Ever since the news broke about the untimely passing of Wayne Allwine, the voice of Mickey Mouse, two weeks ago I have been struggling to put into words how saddened I was by the loss. The clash is, internally, because I never had the honor to meet Wayne Allwine or his wife, and the voice of Minnie Mouse, Russi Taylor, and yet he has had a profound impact in my life.
First and foremost, to say that I feel anything akin to the feeling that Russi Taylor and their family must be feeling would be deluded and inappropriate. The world lost a giant among mice and men, but they lost a piece of their hearts and souls. My deepest sympathies go out to Russi, their children, and their family.
The long running television series Doctor Who stars a character named the Doctor. Unlike most characters in literature, television, or film, the Doctor is able to regenerate his form, which allows for a new actor to create the character anew, in their own likeness. Anyone who has ever been a fan of the series has, what has been termed, their Doctor, the Doctor of their childhood or that they took a charm to when they first began watching the series. It is, in a similar fashion, the connection I have to Wayne Allwine, he was my Mickey Mouse.
Mickey Mouse was created by Walt Disney, and was also voiced by the extremely talented Jimmy MacDonald, but from the time I was born Wayne Allwine has been the voice behind the ears. While I may have seen every single Mickey Mouse cartoon still available, I still return again and again to those moments I most remember: Mickey as Bob Crachit in Mickey’s Christmas Carol, the voice on the radio as we approached Walt Disney World and in the parades on Main Street U.S.A., the Prince and the Pauper, and all the little places in between. The life given to Mickey in each of those places was done so by Wayne Allwine, and even though there are a set of traits inherent to Mickey Mouse, no matter who is behind the mic, a piece of a person finds its way out of the voice and into the life of the character. My children will grow up with a Mickey Mouse all their own, and whomever that may be they will be a tremendous talent. And that is, I suppose, as it should be.
Wayne Allwine once said, “Mickey is Walt’s,” and that is so very true. But to everyone who grew up in the late 1970s and beyond, Wayne Allwine was our Mickey, and he always will be.