Remembering Russi Taylor: The Voice of Minnie Mouse
The Disney community received some sad news recently as we learned that Russi Taylor, the voice of Minnie Mouse, passed away at the age of 75. Russi’s career as Minnie Mouse began in 1986, and she was actually married to Wayne Allwine, the then-current voice of Mickey Mouse, in 1991. (Wayne Allwine passed away on May 18, 2009.) Both Russi Taylor and Wayne Allwine were named Disney Legends in 2008.
Though most famous for Minnie Mouse, Russi voiced quite a number of characters throughout her career. For Disney, she played Nurse Mouse, the assistant to Doctor Mouse and a competent second-in-command in 1990’s The Rescuers Down Under, and also voiced Huey, Dewey and Louie and Webby Vanderquack in the television series DuckTales (as well as in video games and films). She was also the voice of Drizella and the Fairy Godmother in the Cinderella sequels, Cinderella II: Dreams Come True and Cinderella III: A Twist in Time.
Taylor also provided the voices of numerous characters in The Simpsons, including Martin Prince, purple-haired twins Sherri and Terri, and German exchange student Üter. Other roles included Strawberry Shortcake, Pebbles Flintstone, and the Muppets Baby Gonzo.
In honor of Russi, here are some of our favorite facts about Minnie Mouse; some that we’ve shared before (and a few new ones) to celebrate the legacy of Disney’s second most famous mouse and her real life counterpart, Russi Taylor:
1. Like her beau, Mickey Mouse, Minnie’s first appearance was in the 1928 short Plane Crazy. While Minnie would go on to appear in 73 cartoons with Mickey and Pluto, she is the only member of the famed Fab 5 to never have headlined her own film.
2. Did you ever wonder what “Minnie” was short for? Before we get to that, let’s find out how she got her name in the first place. Minnie’s name was dreamed up by Walt Disney himself, and he later said that she was named after Minnie Cowles, the wife of Dr. John Cowles, who was an investor in one of Walt’s earliest animation ventures, Laugh- O-Gram studios. But is “Minnie” her proper name? Nope, that would be “Minerva,” as revealed in the 1942 comic strip story “The Gleam.”
3. We all know Minnie Mouse is a star, but did you know she has her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? She is one of the few Disney characters to be so honored, joining the likes of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Winnie the Pooh, Tinker Bell, and Snow White.
4. Minnie had her own country house in Mickey’s Toontown Fair in the Magic Kingdom (which eventually closed to make way for the New Fantasyland and Storybook Circus). Her pink home was covered with hearts and was quite cozy. A favorite photo spot was by her open refrigerator, which was filled with – you guessed it – cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. No wait, there was some ice cream in there. Vanilla? Chocolate Cookie Dough? Nope…(and you might have seen this coming), Cheesy Chip. Um…yum?
5. You could also see Minnie’s To-Do list hanging on the bulletin board. She was one busy mouse, as her list consisted of nine items! But then again, three of them were “Call Mickey,” so perhaps her day wasn’t quite so frenetic. In case you were wondering, her other to-do items included Mousersize, make lunch (for Mickey), bake a cake (for Mickey), and tend to her garden.
6. And it looked like she had a good jump on baking that cake, for you could find a bowlful of Tasty Toon Cake Mix on her kitchen counter. (I wonder if the main ingredient was cheese?)
7. As the only girl in Disney’s “Fab Five” (which also includes Mickey, Donald Duck, Pluto, and Goofy), you would think she should get an honorary title of Disney Princess, right? (Yes, we know she’s not really a princess by the strictest of definition…OK, not by any definition, but come on, this is Minnie we’re talking about!). Well, unofficially she is! Sometimes. While she’s not in the official Disney Princess lineup, she has occasionally appeared along side them in promotional materials.
8. Minnie has been known to take on another princess persona, however. In the early years of Star Wars Weekends held yearly at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you could often spot Minnie wearing the the distinctive hair buns and white dress of Princess Leia!
9. Minnie’s birthday is November 18, same as her beau Mickey! But the big question is, are they married? While they’ve never been married onscreen, Walt Disney, in a 1933 interview with Film Pictorial magazine, said, “In private life, Mickey is married to Minnie… What it really amounts to is that Minnie is, for screen purposes, his leading lady.” So that settles the question, right? Not quite. Two years later in 1935, Walt told Louise Morgan in the News Chronicle “There’s no marriage in the land of make-believe. Mickey and Minnie must live happily ever after.”
10. The Partners Statue of Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney in front of Cinderella Castle may be more famous, but you can also find a statue of Minnie sitting on a bench next to Roy O. Disney as you enter the park. Roy was Walt’s brother of course, and his business expertise was crucial to the Disney’s success.