June 3, 2005 by

Thurl Ravenscroft


Categories: Actors

Thurl Arthur Ravenscroft, the deep booming voice behind Tony the Tiger and various Disney characters, died on May 22 of prostate cancer. He was 91.

The Nebraska native was studying interior design at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles when a friend suggested he audition as a studio singer at Paramount. That audition led to several jobs, including commercial work on the radio and singing back-up for Bing Crosby.

During World War II, Ravenscroft served in the U.S. Air Transport Command. The six-foot-five navigator spent five years flying courier missions across the north and south Atlantic before returning to Hollywood to sing with the Mellomen, a quartet that performed with Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.

In 1952, Ravenscroft became the voice behind Tony the Tiger, the animated feline pitchman for Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes cereal. He would continue to roar his trademark recommendation (“They’re Grrrrreeeeat!”) in television commercials for more than 50 years.

Ravenscroft did voices for the Disney films “Cinderella,” “The Jungle Book,” “101 Dalmatians,” “Sword in the Stone,” “The Aristocats,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Lady and the Tramp,” and lent his voice to characters on the Disneyland rides Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain and the Haunted Mansion. He also sang the song “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” in the 1966 Christmas cartoon, “How The Grinch Stole Christmas,” and provided voices for other Dr. Seuss cartoons (“Horton Hears a Who,” “The Cat in the Hat,” “The Lorax”).

As a singer, Ravenscroft backed Doris Day, the DeCastro Sisters, Arlo Guthrie, Mario Lanza and Jim Nabors. A member of the Johnny Mann Singers, he sang on 28 albums and performed for President Richard Nixon at the White House. Ravenscroft also recorded the “Book of Psalms” for the blind and the spoken word scripture album, “God’s Plan for You.” His favorite gig? Narrating the Pageant of the Masters, an annual art celebration in Laguna Beach, Calif., for 20 years.

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2 Responses to Thurl Ravenscroft

  1. Saskia Van Uylenburgh

    Another little piece of my childhood has died with the estimable Mr. Ravenscroft. From all I hear of him, he was a true gentleman as well as a fine singer and voice actor. Tenors are a dime a dozen, but a good bass like him is a pearl of great price.

  2. Keith R. Wood

    A man whose heart — and voice — were six sizes larger. It was his voice which gave the Grinch the perfect counterpoint, and the finishing touch to the Haunted Mansion.

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