James Macdonald, 84, Disney sound effects veteran and the official voice of Mickey Mouse from 1946 to 1976, died Feb. 1 in Glendale, Calif., of heart failure.
Over a 48-year career, Macdonald was credited with creating and assembling one of the largest sound effects libraries in film history. His menagerie of sound added dimension to all of Disney’s animated shorts and features from 1934 on.
In 1946, Walt Disney selected Macdonald to take over for him as the official voice of Mickey Mouse. Beginning with the “Mickey And The Beanstalk” segment of “Fun And Fancy Free,” he provided the familiar falsetto for the mouse on all film and tv projects.
In 1983, Macdonald turned the voice over to Wayne Allwine, who has since provided the mouse’s voice.
In addition, Macdonald provided the yodeling, whistling and sneezing for the dwarfs in “Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs” (1937).
He was the voice of Jaq and Gus in “Cinderella” (1950); the Dormouse in “Alice In Wonderland”; did the barks for Pluto; provided the high-pitched, excitable voices of Chip ‘n’ Dale; and, in 1977, he came out of retirement to take on the dragonfly Evinrude in “The Rescuers.”
On screen, he could be seen as the silhouetted figure of a timpani player in “Fantasia,” and he made several appearances on the Disney tv series in the 1950s as the drummer in the jazz group the Firehouse Five Plus Two.
He also did sound effects for live-action films.
Macdonald was born in Dundee, Scotland, in 1906, but his parents came to the U.S. when he was 1 month old. He grew up in Philadelphia, and received a correspondence school degree in engineering before moving to California in 1927.
In 1934, he was playing drums and percussion for the Dollar Steamship Lines when the band, between cruises, was called to the Disney Studios to record for a Mickey Mouse short.
In 1989, Macdonald’s sound effects career was depicted in the Disney-MGM Studios attraction “The Monster Sound Show” in Florida.
He remained active and was scheduled to create sounds for the Splash Mountain attraction in Tokyo and Walt Disney World.
Survived by his wife, Roberta.