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Bill Lee (singer)

Bill Lee (August 21, 1916 – November 15, 1980) was an American playback singer who provided a voice or singing voice in many films, for actors in musicals and for many Disney characters. He was born in Johnson, Nebraska, and died on November 15, 1980 of a brain tumor[1] in Los Angeles, California.

Bill Lee
Bill Lee in Cinderella (1965)
Born(1916-08-21)August 21, 1916
DiedNovember 15, 1980(1980-11-15) (aged 64)
Los Angeles, California, US
OccupationPlayback singer
Years active1948–1977


Lee grew up in Des Moines, Iowa.[1] His initial musical focus was as a trombone player, but subsequent to singing in several college vocal groups, he decided to concentrate on his voice.[1] He served as an ensign in the United States Navy during World War II, then moved to Hollywood upon discharge.[1] The bulk of Lee's income consisted of singing commercials for radio and television, much of which Lee felt was "silly" but he appreciated the financial independence this work gave him.[1] He sang the lead role in a 1953 Gordon Jenkins made-for-record musical entitled Seven Dreams.[1]

Much of Lee's best-known work is as part of the popular singing quartet known as The Mellomen, founded by Thurl Ravenscroft.[1] It was Lee, rather than Ravenscroft, who provided Shere Khan's sung line during "That's What Friends Are For" in The Jungle Book. Richard Sherman confirmed this fact on the audio commentary on its 2007 DVD release. Though George Sanders, Shere Khan's voice actor, was an accomplished singer, he was not available during the finalized recording of the song.[2]

Lee performed prolifically for The Walt Disney Company. Initially his Disney efforts were as part of The Mellomen, but he was later given many solos on Disneyland Records.[1] For the million-selling second-cast Disneyland album of Mary Poppins, Lee performs as Bert and Mr. Banks.[1][3] In the film itself, Lee sang as one of the barnyard menagerie in "Jolly Holiday".[1] He has appeared as Goofy in the 1965 LP Children's Riddles and Game Songs.[1][4] At the Disney theme parks, he is the voice of Melvin the moose in Country Bear Jamboree.[1]

Lee also provided the singing voice for Christopher Plummer in The Sound of Music.[5]

Partial filmographyEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Hollis, Tim; Ehrbar, Greg (2006). Mouse Tracks: The Story of Walt Disney Records. Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi. pp. 85–86. ISBN 1-57806-849-5.
  2. ^ Richard Sherman (2007). The Jungle Book audio commentary. The Jungle Book, Platinum Edition, Disc 1.
  3. ^ 10 Songs from Walt Disney's Mary Poppins at Discogs (list of releases)
  4. ^ Walt Disney Presents Children's Riddles and Game Songs at Discogs (list of releases)
  5. ^ "The Unsung Overdub Star In 'Sound Of Music'". Weekend Edition Saturday. NPR News. November 24, 2012. Retrieved November 25, 2012.

External linksEdit