Voice of Minnie Mouse - and wife of Mickey

Born: May 4, 1944;

Died: July 26, 2019

Russi Taylor, who has died of colon cancer aged 75, not only provided the voice of Minnie Mouse in films and on television for more than 30 years, she also married Mickey Mouse in real life.

Taylor met Wayne Allwine, who was the regular voice of Mickey Mouse, at a recording session for the television film Totally Minnie (1988) soon after she took over the job of supplying Minnie’s vocals.

They were both unhappily married to other people at the time. “We met in the hallway when I was going in to do Totally Minnie,” she told the trade magazine Variety. The next time they met they had both separated from their previous spouses.

“We just started hanging out as pals, and the next thing you know, we were an item.” They married in 1991 and remained together till Allwine’s death 10 years ago.

Taylor’s naturally chirpy, high voice readily leant itself to cartoon kids and Taylor voiced several characters on The Simpsons, including Martin Prince (in almost 200 episodes between 1990 and 2019 as well as the 2007 feature film) and the twins Sherri and Terri.

Her other regular characters included Donald Duck’s nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie and Pebbles Flintstone. Sometimes she was hired just to imitate babies crying and one of her assignments was to create the sound of baby maggots in the 1998 animated feature film A Bug’s Life.

Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1944, as Russell Taylor, she amused herself and young friends with funny voices. She visited Disneyland and claims to remember spotting studio founder Walt Disney (who originally voiced both Mickey and Minnie), going up to him and telling him that when she grew up she was going to work for him.

She lived in Europe for a while and found work dubbing voices, before developing her career back in the US in the 1970s, supplying voices for animated characters.

She began doing regular voice work as Pebbles Flintstone and Strawberry Shortcake in the early 1980s and subsequently she was the voice of Pac-Baby on the Pac-Man TV show, Gonzo on Muppet Babies and of various characters on My Little Pony.

In the latter part of the 1980s the Disney studio was looking for an actress to give voice to Minnie Mouse. Mickey’s girlfriend had been mute on screen since Ruth Clifford retired from the job in the early 1950s. Taylor was invited for a meeting with studio bosses and was asked to perform a scene of her choosing.

The balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet was not perhaps the most obvious choice for an audition for the role of Minnie Mouse, but she got the job.

One of her first projects as Minnie was the 1988 feature film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, a blend of live-action and animation, which was added at a later stage. Bob Hoskins was driven half-crazy by having to conduct conversations with thin air. She also voiced Duchess the cat in the live-action film Babe (1995).

She found it very difficult to resume her duties as Minnie Mouse after her husband died and another actor Bret Iwan took over as Mickey. But she did continue recording dialogue as Martin Prince and Minnie Mouse until recently.

She is survived by five stepchildren.

Brian Pendreigh