On Friday Minnie Mouse (Russi Taylor) joined her beloved Mickey (Wayne Allwine) in the cartoon heaven. The voice-over actress died from colon cancer on 26 July at her home in Glendale, California, according to a press release from the Walt Disney Company. Details of a memorial service have yet to be announced.
Bill Farmer who voiced Goofy alongside Russi Taylor, stated that she was “as wonderful, funny, and sweet as Minnie Mouse, and as talented yet humble as you would expect”.
A lifelong Disney fan was born on 4 May 1944 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Taylor began her career in 1980 with “The World of Strawberry Shortcake”, doing voice work at Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc. In 1986 she became Disney’s choice out of more than 200 candidates who auditioned for the role of Minnie Mouse. Before Taylor, other voice actors who played Minnie included Marcellite Garner (in the 1930s), Thelma Boardman (in the 1940s) and Ruth Clifford (in the 1940s and 50s).
According to Russi Taylor’s profile released by Disney Company, she met Walt Disney – the first voice of Minnie and Mickey – when visiting Disneyland as a girl. “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!”
Taylor voiced Minnie across Disney projects in film, television and theme parks, including the movie “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”, “Runaway Brain”, “Get a Horse!”, “Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers”, and the television series “Mickey MouseWorks”, “House of Mouse”, “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse”, and “Mickey and the Roadster Racers”.
Beyond famous giggly Minnie Mouse, Taylor voiced other Disney characters like Donald Duck's nephews Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Scrooge McDuck’s huge fan Webbigail ‘Webby’ Vanderquack in original “DuckTales”, Nurse Mouse in “The Rescuers Down Under”, Gonzo on “The Muppet Babies”. Taylor voiced the roles on American animated television series like “TaleSpin”, “The Little Mermaid”, “Buzz Lightyear of Star Command”, and “Kim Possible”.
She also took on several roles outside of Disney, providing the high-pitched voice of Bart's dorky classmate Martin Prince as well as of Üter Zörker and the twins, Terri and Sherri Mackleberry, in “The Simpsons” for 30 seasons and almost 200 episodes, Duchess the Cat in Babe, and Annie Winks in Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks, for which she earned two Daytime Emmy Award nominations.
In 2018 Russi Taylor was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for voicing Minnie Mouse in the latest Mickey Mouse TV show rendition. Her voice can also be heard in “The Smurfs”, “Paddington Bear”, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and more.
Russi Taylor’s biography pretty much imitates her animated counterpart’s love life. She was married to her first husband Dr Robert Taylor, computer music composer pioneer, until 1991 when in Hawaii Russi tied the knot with Wayne Allwine, the third voice of Mickey Mouse from 1977 up to 2009 when he died of complications from diabetes on 18 May. Likewise, Minnie Mouse had a boyfriend, Mortimer Mouse, before she was happily coupled up to Mickey.
This is what Taylor told the Los Angeles Times in 2014 about meeting her real-life Mickey first time: “Wayne was coming out of a session as Mickey for ‘Totally Minnie’. We met in the hallway. We just blended really well”. The couple, generally, kept their personal romance utterly private as they “didn’t want it to be about Mickey and Minnie been married. It was about Wayne and Russi being married. We had the best time. We laughed a lot. We were always singing. We always had music in the house”.
Portraying their iconic characters longer than any other voice-over actors, Russi Taylor and Wayne Allwine were both named Disney Legends in 2008. “I never wanted to be famous. The characters I do are famous, and that’s fine for me”, the humble actress said. Indeed, talent and modesty belong to each other. A mouse was just a mouse until one gifted man has created a whole new world based on an animated character. Like Walt Disney regarded on 27 October 1954, let’s "never lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse”. The original voice of Mickey and Minnie Mouse (“Steamboat Willie” in 1928) would have known better.