Top 10 Voice Actors: Disney Films

Recently, we at BTVA have completed the task of adding all of the Disney Classic Movies to our library.  During this project it was interesting to see the number of Voice Actors who seemed to be casting favorites of the Disney company.  Eventually, I wanted to see which voice actors appeared most prominently throughout the history of Disney Feature Films. What better way to do this but sit down with the casting information from every Disney Feature Film and create a Top Ten List!

The following criteria was used in the creation of this list.  First of all, and perhaps most importantly, only original Disney feature films were considered in this process.  In other words, sequels were not part of this process at all.  Their are a number of reasons for this.  One reason being that sequels are almost always direct to video releases and this list is about feature length animated films.  Another reason for this is because most often the voice cast in the sequels is made up of people who are very talented, BUT who are doing their best impressions of the cast in the original representation of the films.

Another criteria for this list was the fact that this was NOT merely a list of which Voice Actors voiced the most prominent characters.  Instead, this is more about which actors were used the most, whether it be that they were used in the most films or that they voiced the most characters overall.  The only time the importance of the individual characters was a factor was once a 'short-list' was made of all of the voice actors who voiced more than just one or two characters overall.

For this last reason you will not be seeing the likes of Kathryn Beaumont who voiced two very prominent Disney characters; Alice from Alice in Wonderland and Wendy Darling in Peter Pan or Eleanor Audley who voiced Lady Tremaine and Maleficent.  It is not because these actors were not talented or that those roles were not important but rather that this list is geared towards people who had more than two roles over the course of their careers.

One last thing to remember when viewing this list is the history of the Disney company.  In previous decades it was much more common for Disney to hire certain voice actors over and over again for their films.  However, in recent decades it seems that Disney has in many ways moved away from this practice.  So, although it may appear at first glance that this list is biased towards the older Disney productions, this is not the case.  It is simply that we have not seen as many actors 're-used' in the last twenty years or so.  Enough talking though, let's get to the list...

Before we get to the list, here are your Honorable Mentions

David Ogden Stiers:
Stiers is one of the very few exceptions to what was said above about the past twenty years or so of Disney Films.  Stiers appeared in Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Lilo and Stich, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Pocahontas and my favorite role of his, Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast

John Fiedler: Fiedler first appeared in a Disney film in 1973 in Robin Hood and last appeared in 2000 in the Emperor's New Groove.  Between those years he appeared in The Rescuers, The Fox and the Hound and most notably as Piglet in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

Frank Welker: It should come as no surprise that Mr. Welker has appeared in more Disney Films and as more Disney characters than anyone in history.  His most notable role was probably as Abu in Aladdin.  The only reason Welker is not in the Top Ten is because the majority of his characters were either animals, monsters, or creatures of some sort.  That is not to take away from the talent it takes to voice those roles but rather that the roles were not as prominent as the roles I believe you will see in the Top Ten.

Top 10 Voice Actors: Disney Films
By on Sat Nov 20 2010, 13 Comments, Add Comment


Thurl Ravenscroft

Thurl Ravenscroft was inducted as a Disney Legend in 1955 mainly because of his work on Disney feature-length films.  Of which the deep voiced actor appeared in over a dozen titles whether it be as the voice of a character or simply as one of the singers in the background.  

Thurl's first Disney film character was that of the Ace Card Painter in 1951s Alice in Wonderland.  Four years later he appeared as an alligator in Lady and the Tramp.  He appeared in a trio Disney films in the 60s including, One Hundred and One Dalmations in which he played Captain the Horse, Sword in the Stone in which he voiced Black Bart and The Jungle Book where he acted as a part of the singing voice for Shere Khan.  His last notable role for Disney came in 1970 when he voiced Billy Bass the Russian Cat in the Aristocats.

J Pat OMalley

J Pat O'Malley was an easy choice for this list as he has voiced ten characters in four different Disney films over the course of a twenty year period.  Like Ravenscroft, O'Malley started with Alice in Wonderland in 1951 when he voiced five minor characters.  Most recognizeable of those five would probably be Tweedledee and Tweedledum.  He also voiced both Jasper Badun and the Colonel in One Hundred and One Dalmations.  In 1967, he voiced both Buzzi the Vulture and Colonel Hathi in the Jungle Book. His last Disney film role was as Otto the Blacksmith in Robin Hood.

James MacDonald

James MacDonald, like O'Malley appeared in four different Disney features. However, unlike both O'Malley and Ravenscroft, MacDonald did not begin with Alice in Wonderland.  He instead started a year earlier in Cinderella where he voiced Bruno the Dog as well as Gus and Jaq the mice.  He did appear alongside our previous two voice actors in Alice and Wonderland where he again voiced a mouse, this time the Doormouse.  The third film he appeared in was the Sword in the Stone where he voiced the Wolf.  His final Disney appearance would be in 1977 when he appeared as Evinrude in the Rescuers.

Candy Candido

Like Ravenscroft, Candy Candido also had a bass voice that could not be mistaken.  Candido appeared in five different films, portraying six different characters over a thirty-three year span.  He began with a role as the Indian Chief in Peter Pan in 1953 and later in the decade would also appear as one of Maleficent's Goons in Sleeping Beauty.  His next three roles would all be as crocodiles/alligators, first as the Captain of the Guards in Robin Hood and last as Brutus and Nero in The Rescuers.  His last role was as the villain sidekick, Fidget in the Great Mouse Detective.

Pat Buttram

Pat Buttram in my opinion, has one of the most unique sounds in voice acting history.  It was because of this sound and the quality of his characters and not the quantity that he appears on our list.  His first Disney film role was as Napoleon the Dog in the Aristocats in 1970 but his most famous role was his second role as the Sheriff of Nottingham in 1973s Robin Hood.  His other roles included Luke from the Rescuers and Chief, the older hunting dog in Fox and the Hound.

Phil Harris

Like Buttram, Phil Harris did not make this list because of the quantity of films he appeared in or the number of roles he was able to voice but rather due to the quality of the characters he portrayed.  I am going to go out on a limb here and say that no other Disney film voice actor has voiced three or more LEAD characters like Harris did.  His first lead role was as Baloo in 1967s Jungle Book.  His second lead role was as Thomas O'Malley in 1970s Aristocats.  His third and final lead role as as Little John in 1973s Robin Hood.  Simply put, you don't need six or seven characters when you have those three on your list!

Bill Thompson

To get into the Top Four of this list it took a pretty special resume.  Previously in this list we had some voice actors who earned their spot simply based on total number of films appeared in or roles played.  We also had a few just before this make it purely on a handful of more prominent roles.  It is at number four though where neither of those alone would be good enough for you to earn your spot.  Now it would take a combination of total number of roles as well as the quality of those roles and Bill Thompson fits that bill to a T.

Bill Thompson appeared in five different Disney films and portrayed ten different characters over his career.  In the 50s, Thompson was basically Disney's go-to guy beginning with his role as the Dodo Bird and the White Rabbit in 1951s, Alice in Wonderland.  Two years after that film he returned as Mr. Smee in Peter Pan.  Two years after that he appeared as Bull, Dachsie, Jock, Joe and the Policeman in Lady and the Tramp. His final role in the 50s would come as King Hubert in Sleeping Beauty.  Thompson would make his final appearance over a decade later in 1970s Aristocats, as Uncle Waldo.

Barbara Luddy

Barbara Luddy, like Thompson appeared in five different Disney films and voiced six different characters.  She portrayed both the Mother Church Mouse and the Mother Rabbit in Robin Hood as well as Rover in One Hundred and One Dalmations.  Her most prominent three roles however were as Kanga in the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Merryweather in Sleeping Beauty and most prominently as Lady in Lady and the Tramp.

Sterling Holloway

Sterling Holloway appeared in six different films and portrayed six pretty prominent figures going all the way back to 1941 and ending in 1977. His first role was that of the Stork in the film, Dumbo.  The next year he appeared as the adult version of Flower, the skunk in Bambi.  In 1951 he obtained his biggest role up to that point as the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland.  He would match that feat in 1967 as Kaa in the Jungle Book.  Three years later he appeared as Roquefort in the Aristocats.  Holloway, however saved his best for last appearing as Winnie the Pooh in the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh in 1977.

Verna Felton

Number One on this list was absolutely a no-brainer.  Verna Felton appeared in six different Disney films as seven different characters.  And once you hear which seven characters those were I think you will agree with me.  Her first role was as both the Elephant Matriarch and Mrs. Jumbo, Dumbo's mom in 1941s Dumbo.  Next came The Fairy Godmother in Cinderella.  A year after that, Felton appeared as the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland.  Four years after that she appeared as Aunt Sarah the main antagonist in Lady and the Tramp. In 1959, Felton appeared as the fairy, Flora in Sleeping Beauty.  Her career came full circle when she appeared once again as an elephant, this time, Winifred in the Jungle Book. Felton unfortunately passed away in 1966 before the Jungle Book was released in theatres.  

So, what do you all think? Where did I get it right and where did I go so awfully wrong? Did I forget a major Disney film voice actor, or at least your favorite? Can you truly change the self proclaimed, Expert's mind?

This was The, er, I mean My Top Ten...What's yours?


Add a Comment

said at 2:27 PM on Wed Aug 8 2012
 1 Shout Out!
No Jim Cummings? I'm surprised! His resume is miles long.
said at 3:10 PM on Mon May 23 2011
Who doesn't love Disney Classics? It's so hard to choose with these guys (and gals)!
said at 10:24 PM on Sat Jul 2 2011
@JayGirl10 I know! How are we supposed to pick just one out of all of them?
said at 12:06 AM on Sat Mar 12 2011
1st off this actors not actresses and there's so many youcould put in. I'm dissapointer the late, great, Tony Jay isn't on here. He lend alot of his voices to Disney villains in his later years but he also lend to pretty much any cartoon that gave him the job. Also Johnathan Freeman should be on here for his performance as Jafar.
OptimusSolo (Admin)
said at 3:31 PM on Sun Mar 13 2011
@pete If you read the description you would see this way about feature films NOT cartoons, hence why Tony Jay was not included. Also, one character (Jafar) is not enough to warrant a spot on the list.
OptimusSolo (Admin)
said at 4:00 AM on Thu Nov 25 2010
@jonhardwick - I never said it was his last role, if you read closely I said it was his last notable role and the context was Disney Classics which Brave Little Toaster was not one of.
OptimusSolo (Admin)
said at 4:40 AM on Sun Nov 21 2010
Yeah, but I love him too - you can check out the Top Ten Voice Actors Pre 1980 and I think you will be happy!
OptimusSolo (Admin)
said at 3:40 AM on Sat Nov 20 2010
I have seen just about every Disney movie either on the Big Screen or on DVD. Sorry, Pinocchio is not even in my top ten. Jungle Book, Robin Hood, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Lion King, Lady and the Tramp, Fox and the Hound are all better for sure.

Let's keep this to the Voice Actors though...if you want to talk about the movies more please do it in the forums
OptimusSolo (Admin)
said at 2:08 AM on Sat Nov 20 2010
I actually LOVE Jiminy Cricket but Pinocchio is not even in the top ten for Disney movies of all-time. Plus you must not have read the first part where I talk about how the list was made. Voicing ONE or TWO roles was not going to be enough to make the list and Edwards only voiced Jiminy Crickett and Jim Crow for Dumbo which doesnt even compare to the people on this list.
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Which do you think should be in the #1 spot?
Verna Felton
Sterling Holloway
Barbara Luddy
Bill Thompson
Phil Harris
Pat Buttram
Candy Candido
James MacDonald
J Pat OMalley
Thurl Ravenscroft
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