Voice actor Russi Taylor, best known for her work as the voice of Disney’s Minnie Mouse for more than three decades, has died.
The Walt Disney Company confirmed the news in an emotional tribute on its website, explaining that she had passed away in Glendale, California, on Friday (26 July).
Included in the tribute was a quote from Taylor herself, explaining that she had wanted to work for Disney since she was a child. It reads: “When I was a little girl, I was with my mom and my brother, and it was late at night at Disneyland. We had just come off the Mark Twain Riverboat and were getting some popcorn.
“I looked over and saw Walt sitting on a bench, so we introduced ourselves and shared our popcorn with him. At one point during our chat, he asked me what I wanted to do when I grow up, and I said, ‘I want to work for you!’ So he said, ‘Okay!’ And now I do!”
Russi Taylor has passed away aged 75. Credit: PA
Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1944, Taylor’s voiceover career hit its stride in 1980, as she played the title character of the animated series The World of Strawberry Shortcake. Roles in cartoons such as The Flintstones Comedy Show, The Smurfs and Muppet Babies (in which she voiced Gonzo) followed, before her first work with Disney in 1985, in Adventures of the Gummi Bears.
In 1986 she landed the role for which she would become most famous, beating more than 200 hopefuls to become the third voice of Minnie Mouse, following in the footsteps of Walt Disney himself, Marjorie Ralston, Marcellite Garner, Thelma Boardman, Ruth Clifford and Janet Waldo.
Later in her career, Taylor would also become known as the voice of The Simpsons‘ infamous teacher’s pet, Martin Prince.
Taylor also voiced Martin Prince in The Simpsons. Credit: 20th Century Fox
In 1991, she married Wayne Allwine, who voiced Minnie’s partner (and Disney’s signature character) Mickey Mouse from 1977, until his death in 2009. The couple were named Disney Legends – the company’s own ‘hall of fame’ – in 2008.
Bob Iger, the Walt Disney Company’s chairman and CEO, said: “Minnie Mouse lost her voice with the passing of Russi Taylor.
“For more than 30 years, Minnie and Russi worked together to entertain millions around the world – a partnership that made Minnie a global icon and Russi a Disney Legend beloved by fans everywhere.
“We’re so grateful for Russi’s talent as well as the tremendous spirit and great joy she brought to everything she did. It was a privilege to have known her and an honour to have worked with her, and we take comfort in the knowledge that her work will continue to entertain and inspire for generations to come.
“Russi will be sorely missed and our hearts go out to her family and friends, along with our deepest condolences.”
Bill Farmer, known as the voice of Goofy, added: “Russi was as close as family; as wonderful, funny, and sweet as Minnie Mouse, and as talented yet humble as you would expect. I will deeply and dearly miss her.”
Simpsons writer and showrunner Al Jean also expressed his condolences, writing on Twitter: “Deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Russi Taylor – a true delight to work with.”