The Animation Hall Of Fame family is sad to acknowledge the passing of one of animations great voice talents, Russi Taylor. Russi will always be known as Minnie Mouse.
Russi was born Russel Taylor on May 4th, 1944 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She played around with different funny voices and singing tones since she was a child. At an early age, still a little girl, she visited Disneyland and had a remarkable encounter with Walt Disney himself. In later years she recalled, "The sweetest thing of all is at one point he said, 'What do you want to do when you grow up?' ", "I said, 'I want to work for you.' "
She got her big start playing Geoffery Giraffe's Children Baby G and Gigi in Toys R US commercials. There she worked with legendary voice artist Thurl Ravenscroft. He encouraged her to keep pursuing her dream. When she landed the voice of Ted and Georgette’s baby on the Mary Tyler Moore Show she vowed to go out and make her lifelong dream to work in the Disney Studios. When they had open auditions for Minnie Mouse she wowed them by doing her Minnie voice with dialogue from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. She beat out more than 200 others during a 1986 audition.
Her work over the years was spot on and she took one of the most creative approaches to voice acting and researching her characters. She once said in front of Animation Hall Of Fame Co-founder Nancy Miles that she would not only listen to films and tapes and records for inspiration or new ideas but also listen to how people (particularly children) used tones and inflections as they pronounced words.
She started working at Disney doing Minnie and made acquaintance with Wayne Allwine who voiced Mickey Mouse. But it wasn't until working together on "Totally Minnie" that they formed a fast friendship that became something more! They were married in 1991 and were always the ying and yang of each other like the characters they voiced. When Wayne died in 2009 she was devastated. Voice actors are a special breed of person and she credited her circle of close friends such as Alan Young, Bill Farmer, Tony Anselmo, Tress MacNeille for getting her to get up and get back to work.
Russi's inner child made her perfect to play the voice roles that made her famous. She was everything Minnie Mouse was, sweet, kind, generous, and fun loving. She made the best baby sounds and speech. We always enjoyed Baby Gonzo's voice and loved her work in Pixar's A Bugs Life doing all the baby maggots! When I realized she was the one doing the voice of The Simpsons character little Martin Prince and Huey Dewey and Louie in Disney's Duck Tales we became big fans.
"I can't believe my life," she said in a Variety interview. "I've been so lucky. I sit back and go, 'Don't let anybody know." This Emmy and Annie winning Disney Legend will be sorely missed. Our deepest sympathy to her family and her stepchildren. "Among hundreds of other characters she gave voice to my favorites include Strawberry Shortcake, Duchess the Cat in the 1995 film Babe, and the English dubbing of Studio Ghibli's Pom Poko's Otama and Kanta's aunt in My Neighbor Totoro" said Nancy Miles.
"We're so grateful to have known and seen for so many years Russi's great talent. She was so wonderful to be around and you could see the great joy she brought to everything she did. It was an honor to have known her"--Hal Miles.