Being the procrastinator that I am, I usually wait to write my posts until hours before they are published. Don’t get me wrong, there are cases in which I do plenty of research and plan things out days or weeks in advance, but those are outnumbered by the fly by the seat of my pants posts. I hope this isn’t necessarily evident in my writing, but I digress.
So, as I finished editing other posts I realized I didn’t have anything for myself. Needing background noise, I scrolled through the Disney Family Movies channel on demand and noticed they added the Jungle Book. I hadn’t seen it in a year or so and could listen to Louis Prima sing the phone book, so I started it.
Moments into the movie divine inspiration struck! I heard the unmistakable voice of Sterling Holloway. For many Disney fans, he is best known for his voice talents as that lovable stuffed with fluff Winnie the Pooh. I’m sure some are familiar with some of his other roles, but I thought I’d take this opportunity to shine a spotlight on some of his best known Disney voices.
The first role Sterling Holloway provided for Disney was that of the Messenger Stork in Dumbo in 1941. He delivers the cutest little baby elephant ever born to Mrs. Jumbo from the clouds above. His first role is short and sweet, but this is the one that started a forty plus year career with the Walt Disney Company.
Next up for the Georgia native was a bit more prominent role in the next Disney animated feature film. Sterling Holloway provided the adult voice of Flower in 1942’s Bambi. The most precious skunk you’ll ever encounter, Flower is one of Bambi’s best friends who also often pals around with Thumper.
During the war years, Walt made use of Sterling Holloway in several of his package films and shorts. Most notably, Sterling voiced Professor Holloway (the narrator) in The Three Caballeros. He also provided narration for Mickey and the Beanstalk, Peter and the Wolf, Lambert the Sheepish Lion and several other segments into the early 1950s like Susie the Little Blue Coupe. Walt liked Holloway so much he even used him in his crossover to television primarily in episodes of Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color.
The 1951 classic Alice in Wonderland featured Sterling Holloway in one of his most recognizable roles as the Cheshire Cat. This trickster is an enigma wrapped up in a riddle surrounded by mystery. He likes to lead Alice astray on her adventures in Wonderland and has a tendency to vanish into thin air.
By far, Sterling Holloway’s most notable role for Disney was as Winnie the Pooh fro 1966 to 1974. He voiced the best friend of Christopher Robin in three shorts: Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, and Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too. These were repackaged and rereleased in 1977 as The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. It is often difficult to hear Holloway’s voice in other roles and not to picture Pooh since they are so inextricably linked.
1967’s The Jungle Book brought Sterling Holloway his only villainous voice role for Disney (to my knowledge) in that of Kaa the snake. His hypnotic lullaby “Trust In Me” almost does poor Mowgli in, but Bagheera’s interruption saves the day. The boy is later truly hooked by the girl serenading him from the Man Village.
Roquefort in The Aristocats was one of Sterling Holloway’s last voice roles for Disney. In this 1970 film he plays a cute mouse who is the neighbor of Marie, Berlioz, Toulouse and Duchess. He lives in harmony with these cats, but seems to be afraid of most all other felines. Despite his fear, he plays an integral role is saving the kidnapped kittens.
Have you seen some or all of these roles voiced by Sterling Holloway? Which is your favorite? I have to go with Pooh, with the Cheshire Cat as a close second. Hope you enjoyed! Leave a message in the comments with your thoughts.Share this article:
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3 thoughts on “The Many Roles of Sterling Holloway”
I LOVE Sterling Holloway! My favorite is Peter and the Wolf. “Peter, don’t just stand that way! … And don’t stand that way either.”
When I was growing up, I remember seeing Sterling in a funny video that was made for International Harvester. I was hoping to find a copy of the video before Dad passed away. Dad worked for IH for 37 years and that is how I got to see the video. Can anyone help me to locate anything like this?