For some reason, this is really turning into a Disney-centric week on the Beach. I was sad to hear this morning that Wayne Allwine has died from complications related to diabetes at the age of 62. That name will not be familiar to most of you, but for the past 32 years, Wayne had been the voice of Mickey Mouse - only the third man in history to voice the role, after Jimmy McDonald and Mickey's creator, Walt Disney.
Wayne was also a sound editor and foley artist at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, as well as the voice of several other animated characters, but you can bet his obits will barely mention any of that.
I had the good fortune of meeting Wayne probably a half-dozen times, at various Disney media events. He and his wife, Russi Taylor, would stop by the WMAL broadcast table and spend a few minutes in character being interviewed by our hosts. Russi is the voice of Minnie Mouse, and she and Wayne were married after years of working together in the recording booth. It was a great love story for them both!
The Allwines were special because they were always friendly, always flexible in terms of working around our broadcast clock, and they would always remember us as well. Wayne would carry his ukelele with him and serenade us on the air as Mickey and off the air as himself. When the mic was open, though, he was always careful to be Mickey - there was no betrayal of the toon universe, and we were always strictly interviewing Mickey and Minnie Mouse!
Can you imagine having a better job - or a bigger responsibility - than being the voice of an American icon? Thanks, Wayne!