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    Ravenscroft, Thurl (6 February 1914 - 22 May 2005)

    Singer and voice-over artist who has become an immortal fixture in American pop culture for his portrayal of Tony the Tiger in those famous Frosted Flakes ads, a role he performed for almost four decades.  He is also heard every Christmas singing "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch" in the original animated version of Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  In 1933, Thurl moved from his home state of Nebraska to California, intending to attend Otis Art Institute, but a bit of divine intervention altered his path when his choir director in church encouraged him to audition for Paramount.  He landed a gig on The Kraft Music Hall, a popular radio program featuring Bing Crosby, singing background vocals with The Paul Taylor Choristers.  Bill Days and Max Smith left the Choristers to start a quartet called The Sportsmen, and Thurl soon followed.  When America became engaged in World War II, Thurl left show biz behind to serve his country in the Air Transport Command.  His six-feet-five frame was too large for a fighter plane, so he instead flew special missions for five years as a navigator.  Some of his precious cargo included Winston Churchill and Bob Hope.  It was through his aerodynamic adventures that he met his wife June, and they wed on 21st July, 1946.  A year later, his stint with the military expired, and he and June moved back to California.  In 1948, he and ex-Sportsman Max Smith started up The Mellomen, which became an extremely sought-after quartet who could sing anything from barbershop to rock and roll.  The Mellomen backed Rosemary Clooney, Bing Crosby, Spike Jones, Danny Kaye, Frankie Laine, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and Jo Stafford, sang on Disney films, and recorded numerous commercial jingles for the radio.  One of these gigs was with Kellogg's, which was how Thurl came to embody his most enduring character:  Tony the Tiger.  The Mellomen were also a key component to The Norman Luboff Choir and recorded under the moniker Big John & The Buzzards, a name coined by bandleader Mitch Miller.  Thurl appears on one of the biggest-selling albums of all time, the original soundtrack to the film of South Pacific.  He also got a chance to show off his chops on The Eliot Brothers' 1953 recording of "In the Mood" and Rosemary Clooney's 1954 hit, "This Ole House".  Thurl hooked up with The Johnny Mann Singers in the '60s and wound up recording twenty-eight albums with them.  In 1966, he found himself in the studio with Chuck Jones and Dr. Seuss, singing the now-famous "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" for How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  This led to other work on Dr. Seuss specials, such as The Cat in the Hat and Horton Hears a Who.  Thurl was already well-versed in being heard but not seen in such Disney animated films as Dumbo and 101 Dalmatians.  He also worked on The Jungle Book, Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty, and The Sword and the Stone.  His collaboration with Disney extended beyond the recording studio and into its famous theme parks, where it is nearly impossible to not hear his voice on numerous attractions and rides.  In 1970, he recorded a solo LP of gospel standards entitled Great Hymns in Story and Song.  He also continued to be in demand as a session vocalist for the likes of Arlo Guthrie and Jim Nabors.  In 1987, he returned to the silver screen in cartoon form as Kirby in The Brave Little Toaster.  For twenty years, he hosted Pageant of the Masters, a unique and internationally attended event that brings artworks to life with human actors.  In 1995, he was honoured as a Disney Legend.  As the new millennium dawned, Thurl continued to voice Tony the Tiger, but by now he was in his eighties and battling with prostate cancer, which eventually claimed his life on 22nd May 2005.  He was 91.

     

    Sources:

    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thurl_Ravenscroft
    2. http://imdb.com/name/nm0712391/bio
    3. http://members.aol.com/allthurl/biography.htm
    4. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/25/magazine/25raven.html
    5. http://blog.wfmu.org/freeform/2007/07/365-days-184---.html
    6. http://www.sacunion.com/pages/entertainment/articles/4986
    7. http://www.the-trades.com/article.php?id=1526

      

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     



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