Thurl Ravenscroft: A Voice of Your Childhood

Meet the legendary bass from all of our childhoods: Thurl Ravenscroft.

Thurl Ravenscroft: A Voice of Your Childhood
Thurl Ravenscroft (source: Matt Haney/The World-Herald)

You may not know his name, but you definitely know his voice.

Thurl Ravenscroft was a legendary voice actor and singer who lent his voice to some of the most iconic songs, movies, and characters of all time – most notably, the Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes mascot: Tony the Tiger.

“They’re grrrrreat!”

That’s one of those mottos you can hear just by reading it, and you can thank Mr. Ravenscroft for making it so memorable.

Frosties Television Commercial (Kellogg's, 1960s)

Of his many television show and film credits, the bulk of Ravenscroft’s work was with Walt Disney in his earliest films and beyond. Voicing Monstro the whale in Pinocchio (1940), a card painter in Alice in Wonderland (1951), Al the alligator in Lady and the Tramp (1955), the titular character in the short Paul Bunyan (1958), Captain the horse in 101 Dalmatians (1961), Sir Bart in The Sword in the Stone (1963), Hog in Mary Poppins (1964), Billy Boss in The Aristocats (1970), and Kirby the vacuum cleaner in The Brave Little Toaster (1989), Ravenscroft’s deep bass makes up more of our childhood memories than any of us fully realize. Ravenscroft didn’t just voice characters, though, as he also sang in the chorus of many Disney films such as Dumbo (1941), Peter Pan (1953), Sleeping Beauty (1959), The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh (1977), The Jungle Book (1967), and Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971). Oh, and did I mention he’s one of the busts singing “Grim Grinning Ghosts” on The Haunted Mansion dark ride in Disneyland?

"Grim Grinning Ghosts" (The Haunted Mansion, Disneyland)

In fact, Ravenscroft’s voice is a regular around the park, as you can also hear him as Buff, the buffalo head mounted on the wall in The Country Bear Jamboree as well as Fritz, the bird with the German accent in The Enchanted Tiki Room.

Thurl Ravenscroft (2003 - Source: Laughing Place)

Despite his extensive and most impressive catalog of vocal experience, Ravenscroft’s standout performance is undoubtedly in the classic song, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” which was first featured in the 1966 television Christmas special: Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! While Ravenscroft sang in other Dr. Seuss productions, this was by far his most famous – even more so than his Disney escapades. To this day, the original version of this song remains a household favorite around the holiday season and in my opinion, immortalizes him as one of the richest-sounding basses to ever exist.

"You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" (Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! 1966)

It’s such a shame that Thurl Ravenscroft’s natural talent often went unaccredited and unrecognized while he was still alive. Even so, I think it’s fair to say that although we were mostly unaware of it, we’ve all been his fans from the very beginning.

Thurl Ravenscroft and Tony the Tiger (2005)