Sunday, July 17, 2016

Who should Voice Shere Khan?




Director Woolie Reitherman was looking for actors who might voice the villain in Disney's Jungle Book. This document comes from Woolie's archive, and it gives us an idea about how many candidates were thought of before George Sanders finally was chosen for the part. I don't know how many were actually asked to come to the studio for a test, but I do know that animator Milt Kahl was elated and thought that Sanders was just perfect.





Here are the first five choices listed on Woolie's sheet.
Don Adams was an actor and comedian, who is remembered for his role as Agent  86 in the TV show Maxwell Smart.




Neville Brand was a TV and film actor, who appeared on shows like Bonanza and The Untouchables.



John Carradine was famous for his roles in horror films and westerns.



William Conrad narrated the Rocky & Bullwinkle Show, and became famous as TV detective Cannon.



Hans Conried was no newcomer to Disney, earlier he had voiced Captain Hook in the film Peter Pan.




I am sure you know a few other actors from the list. It's interesting how Woolie categorizes their talents right after the names.

Here is one of my earlier posts on Shere Khan:

http://andreasdeja.blogspot.com/2014/03/kens-and-milts-shere-khan.html


22 comments:

  1. Tony Jay was wonderful in the sequel. One of its high moments. He is greatly missed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed. I recently rediscovered "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", and Tony Jay (as well as Kathy Zielinski's animation of Frollo) is simply sublime in it.

      Delete
  2. Fun to imagine some of these actors in the part and how their character designs might have looked. You can't get much more diverse than Boris Karloff, Don Rickles and Sheldon Leonard. Shere Khan as an east coast mobster. H'mm...

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a fantastic list! I also found Woolie's notes of each actor's traits to be the most interesting part of this document. It gives a window into the aspects of villainous performance Disney Animation was looking for in those days.

    What a face that John Carradine had! He looks like a animated character himself.

    I find it difficult to imagine Vincent Price as Shere Khan. George Sanders really put his stamp on it, and his much deeper, richer voice than Price's fits the weight and gait of Shere Khan much better. However, I do love Vincent Price's later turn as Professor Ratigan.

    Hmmm.... interesting that Thurl Ravenscroft isn't on the list. When I think of George Sanders' voice, Ravenscroft's quickly comes to mind. Different accent, but same depth and richness. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised, since Ravenscroft later in fact did play a tiger ;)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jonathan Harris was also handwritten on the list. Playing a villain on Lost in Space, his voice was certainly animated and his acting sensibilities offered up the threatening tone and comic sensibilities that would have served Khan very well.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I just wanted to add that Disney vet Paul Frees also would have been an excellent choice. Thurl Ravenscroft was already known for voicing another famous tiger for Kellogg's cereal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, my mistake; I just looked up Tony the Tiger. He does indeed predate Disney's incarnation of Shere Khan. It also looks like Thurl Ravenscroft was involved with Disney animated features - at least, musically - from way back.

      Delete
    2. Heidi - From what I've heard, Thurl Ravenscroft actually does do Shere Khan's singing voice where the tiger arrives to finish off the final lyric in the vultures' song. George Sanders apparently could sing well himself, but I doubt that he'd have been able to hit that last deep bass note! :)

      Delete
    3. I just checked that song. It does indeed sound much more like Ravenscroft than Sanders on that line!

      Delete
  7. They considered Vincent Price- the future Ratigan- as Shere Khan? Ya learn somethin' new everyday...

    ReplyDelete
  8. Vincent Price, Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone: Peculiar runner ups.

    Hans Conreid: Meh...too hammy.

    John Carradine: I would've like the voice of the Great Owl from "The Secret of NIMH" to do Shere Khan.

    Hershel Bernardi: That might cause a anti-Semitic controversy attack if Shere Khan was voiced the wrong way.

    Don Rickles: BIG FAT NO!!!

    In conclusion, I'm glad that George Sanders did the final voice for Shere Khan.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Dear Mr. Deja, is there any chance to get Your autograph through the mail? I am a big fan of Yours and I would be honored to have Your autograph in my collection. Greetings from Poland :) maria.wodniok@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  10. Don Rickles as Shere Khan! I really can't imagine it. It would be a completely different performance that - I imagine - would require very different animation and acting. I think it'd be strange to hear Inspector Gadget's (more my time than Get Smart) voice coming through, too.

    Love some of the comments alongside some of these names. 'Dramatic - ham'! Mind you, I think it worked well for Peter Ustinov and another villainous Disney cat...

    ReplyDelete
  11. What an interesting list. Larry STorch? As Shere Khan?!? I guess they really were unsure as to the direction this character would take.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Mr. Deja I left a question for you in an older post by mistake - the Tuesday July 5th (2016) post. Rather than double post I'll just let you know here and hope.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Look up your original question.

      Delete
    2. I left you a thank you under your reply.

      Delete
    3. I left you a thank you under your reply.

      Delete
  13. One reason Don Adams wouldn't have been a good choice at the time is that he was the voice of the lead character in the weekly TV cartoon Tennessee Tuxedo and his Tales. Tough to imagine him as a cartoon penguin and a tiger at the same time.

    ReplyDelete
  14. The actors considered are an amazing list. So many talented classic film and radio actors. I'm surprised (though I probably shouldn't be) how many of radio actors are on the list: William Conrad, John Dehner, Sheldon Leonard, Gale Gordon, etc. Fantastic actors which don't seem to be remembered today solely because they excelled in non-visual medium. I wish there was more of an outlet for fantastic voices today. Without radio plays and animated films appearing to be jam-packed with celebrities as opposed to searching for the correct voice for the character, there seems to be no outlet for memorable voices. Not that celebrities can't do a good job, but when I see animated film trailers, the reason to see the films seems to be celebrity as opposed to story. And how many celebrities have iconic voices today? You hear George Sanders as Shere Khan and the animation plus voice is so perfect and fluid. You aren't thinking about which celebrity is voicing the character, you are immersed in the character. I think many people on the list would have been good choices, but the character would have been different.

    ReplyDelete