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Jimmy MacDonald (sound effects artist)

John James MacDonald (May 19, 1906 – February 1, 1991) was a Scottish-born American foley artist, animator, voice actor, musician, conductor, and the original head of the Disney sound effects department. He was also the voice of Mickey Mouse from 1947 to 1977.[3][4]

Jimmy MacDonald
Jimmy MacDonald.jpg
John James MacDonald

(1906-05-19)May 19, 1906
DiedFebruary 1, 1991(1991-02-01) (aged 84)
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery
NationalityBritish, American
OccupationFoley artist, animator, voice actor, musician, conductor
Years active1934–1977, 1979
Spouse(s)Roberta MacDonald[2]

Early lifeEdit

He was born in Dundee, Scotland,[1] on May 19, 1906. His parents were Richard William MacDonald and Minnie Hall.[4] The family emigrated to America when MacDonald was one month old. They travelled via the SS Haverford from Liverpool, England, arriving in Pennsylvania 15 days later.

As a young man, MacDonald landed a job as a musician on the Dollar Steam Ship Lines, which in 1934 led to an opportunity to record music for a Disney cartoon. He went on to secure a permanent contract with Disney, becoming head of the sound department.


Sound effectsEdit

In addition to directing sounds for animated shorts as aurally complicated as Mickey's Trailer (1938), he developed many original inventions and contraptions to achieve expressive sounds for characters like Casey Jr., the circus train engine from Dumbo (1941); Evinrude the dragonfly from The Rescuers (1977); the bees in Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966); and Buzz-buzz (later called "Spike"), the bee who gets the best of Donald Duck in his 1950s short films. He also made the sound effects of Tick Tock the crocodile from Peter Pan (1953) and Dragon Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty (1959) by using castanets.

MacDonald also added voice effects, like on-screen humming for Kirk Douglas in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954).

Many of his effects are available on Cartoon Trax: The Hollywood Edge Volume 1, which was released in 1992. A few of his other effects showed up on other non-Disney sound libraries, such as the International Sound Effects Library and the Hanna-Barbera SoundFX Library, both from Sound Ideas. Some other releases containing MacDonald's sound effects include a few specialty sound effect record releases from Disneyland Records, most notably Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House.

By the time of his death, he was preparing to work on the sounds for the Splash Mountain attraction in Tokyo and Walt Disney World.[5][6]

Voice actingEdit

James MacDonald did the first test yodeling for the dwarfs in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) before they brought in professional yodelers[7] as well as doing some sounds for Dopey such as his hiccuping and sobbing.[citation needed]

By 1947, Walt Disney was getting too busy and too hoarse from smoking to continue voicing Mickey Mouse,[8] so he was replaced by MacDonald after the film Fun and Fancy Free (1947). MacDonald voiced Mickey Mouse until 1977, when he was replaced by young Disney sound-effects man Wayne Allwine for The New Mickey Mouse Club

MacDonald was the original voice actor for Chip, one half of the duo Chip and Dale. He provided the voice of Ajax the Gorilla in Donald Duck and the Gorilla, Dolores the Elephant in Tiger Trouble, The Big Wash, and Working for Peanuts, the Wolf in Make Mine Music, Lumpjaw in Fun and Fancy Free, Jaq and Gus the Mouse in Cinderella (1950), the Dormouse in Alice in Wonderland (1951), Humphrey the Bear, the howling of the dogs at the pound (along with Thurl Ravenscroft) in Lady and the Tramp (1955), the Wolf in The Sword in the Stone (1963), and the hyena in Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971). He appeared in the film Toby Tyler (1960) as the Circus Band Drummer, but was uncredited[citation needed] and appeared in Fantasia (1940) as one of the musicians.[citation needed]

MacDonald played drums in the Firehouse Five Plus Two jazz band. He played with the band on and off from its inception until it disbanded in the early 1970s.

Personal lifeEdit

McDonald was married to Roberta McDonald, they were married until his death in 1991.[9]


MacDonald died of heart failure on February 1, 1991 at his home,[10] and was buried in Glendale's Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery.


Production workEdit

Year Title Position Notes
1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Sound effects Uncredited
1938 Mickey's Trailer Uncredited
1941 The Reluctant Dragon Uncredited
Baggage Buster Uncredited
Dumbo Uncredited
1942 Bambi Uncredited
1948 Inferior Decorator Uncredited
Seal Island Documentary film, uncredited
1949 Honey Harvester Uncredited
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad Uncredited
1950 Beaver Valley Documentary film, uncredited
1951 Nature's Half Acre Documentary film, uncredited
1952 The Olympic Elk Documentary film, uncredited
Water Birds Documentary film, uncredited
1953 Peter Pan Uncredited
Bear Country Documentary film, uncredited
Powlers of the Evergladers Documentary film, uncredited
The Living Desert Documentary film, uncredited
1954 The Vanishing Prairie Documentary film, uncredited
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Uncredited
1955 Lady and the Tramp Uncredited
The African Lion Documentary film, uncredited
1956 Secret of Life Documentary film, uncredited
1957 Perri Uncredited
1958 White Wilderness Documentary film, uncredited
1960 Jungle Cat Documentary film, uncredited
1961 One Hundred and One Dalmatians Uncredited
1963 The Sword in the Stone Uncredited
1966 Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree Uncredited
1970 The Aristocats Uncredited
1973 Robin Hood Uncredited
1977 The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Uncredited
1977 The Rescuers Uncredited
1979 The Black Hole Special sound effects


Year Title Position Notes
1964 Mary Poppins Assistant conductor Credited as James MacDonald
1968 The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band Assistant conductor Credited as James MacDonald
1971 Bedknobs and Broomsticks Assistant conductor Credited as James MacDonald


Year Title Role Notes
1936 The Cowboy Star Still Photographer Uncredited
1937 Clock Cleaners Mickey Mouse Voice, uncredited
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Yodeling Voice, uncredited
1940 Donald's Vacation Various voices Uncredited
Fantasia Percussionist Voice, uncredited
1941 The Reluctant Dragon Sound effects man Uncredited
Dumbo Lion Voice, uncredited
1942 Out of the Frying Pan Into the Firing Line Butcher Uncredited
1943 Private Pluto Chip Voice, uncredited
1944 Donald Duck and the Gorilla Ajax the Gorilla Voice, uncredited
1946 Make Mine Music Wolf Voice, uncredited
Squatter's Rights Chip Voice, uncredited
Peter and the Wolf The Wolf Voice, uncredited
1947 Fun and Fancy Free Lumpjaw Voice, uncredited
Chip an' Dale Chip Voice, uncredited
1948 Mickey Down Under Mickey Mouse Voice, uncredited
Pluto's Purchase Mickey Mouse Voice, uncredited
Three for Breakfast Chip Voice, uncredited
Mickey and the Seal Mickey Mouse Voice, uncredited
1949 Pueblo Pluto Mickey Mouse Voice, uncredited
Winter Storage Chip Voice, uncredited
All in a Nutshell Chip Voice, uncredited
Toy Tinkers Chip Voice, uncredited
1950 Cinderella Jaq and Gus Voice, uncredited
Crazy Over Daisy Chip Voice, uncredited
Trailer Horn Chip Voice, uncredited
Suspense Jeff Episode: "Wisteria Cottage"
Food for Feudin' Chip Voice, uncredited
Out on a Limb Chip Voice, uncredited
1951 Chicken in the Rough Chip Voice, uncredited
Corn Chips Chip Voice, uncredited
Plutopia Mickey Mouse Voice, uncredited
Test Pilot Donald Chip Voice, uncredited
Alice in Wonderland Dormouse Voice, uncredited
R'coon Dawg Mickey Mouse Voice, uncredited
Out of Scale Chip Voice, uncredited
1952 Donald Applecore Chip Voice, uncredited
Lambert the Sheepish Lion Wolf, Lambert Voice, uncredited
Two Chips and a Miss Chip Voice, uncredited
Pluto's Party Mickey Mouse Voice, uncredited
Pluto's Christmas Tree Chip Voice, uncredited
1953 The Simple Things Mickey Mouse Voice, uncredited
Rugged Bear Humphrey the Bear Voice, uncredited
Working for Peanuts Chip Voice, uncredited
1954 The Lone Chipmunks Chip Voice, uncredited
Dragon Around Chip Voice, uncredited
Grin and Bear It Humphrey the Bear Voice, uncredited
Social Lion Lion Voice, uncredited
1955 Bearly Asleep Humphrey the Bear Voice, uncredited
Beezy Bear Humphrey the Bear Voice, uncredited
Up a Tree Chip Voice, uncredited
1955–1968 The Magical World of Disney Mickey Mouse, Chip, Lumpjaw Episodes: "The Mickey Mouse Anniversary Show", "This Is Your Life", "Pluto's Day", "Adventures of Mickey Mouse", "Jiminy Cricket Presents Bongo"
1956 Chips Ahoy Chip Voice, uncredited
Hooked Bear Humphrey the Bear Voice, uncredited
In the Bag Chip Voice, uncredited
1959 Sleeping Beauty Dragon Maleficent's Roar Voice, uncredited
Noah's Ark Animal sounds Voice, uncredited
1960 Toby Tyler or Ten Weeks with a Circus Drummer Uncredited
1963 The Sword in the Stone Wolf, Tiger, Madam Mim Voice, Uncredited
1966 The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Bees Voice, Uncredited
1967 The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin Saloon Percussionist Uncredited
The Jungle Book Shere Khan's Roars, Bagheera's Roars Voice, uncredited
1968 The Mickey Mouse Anniversary Show Mickey Mouse Voice, Uncredited
1977 The Rescuers Evinrude Voice, uncredited
Pete's Dragon Elliott's Roars Voice, uncredited
1981 The Fox and the Hound Bear Voice, uncredited
(archive footage)


  1. ^ a b "Interview: Jimmy MacDonald - The Dundee voice of Disney". 2009-12-23. Retrieved 2017-09-01.
  2. ^ AP (1991-02-08). "James MacDonald, 84, Mickey Mouse's Voice". Retrieved 2016-07-08.
  3. ^ Obituary Variety, February 18, 1991.
  4. ^ a b Book: A Viking in the Family by Keith Gregson, published in 2011 by the History Press.
  5. ^ Interview: Jimmy MacDonald - The Dundee voice of Disney
  6. ^ James MacDonald – Variety
  7. ^ Thomas, Frank; Johnston, Ollie (1995). The illusion of life : Disney animation (1st Hyperion ed.). New York: Hyperion. ISBN 0786860707. OCLC 32509417.
  8. ^ AP (1991-02-08). "James MacDonald, 84, Mickey Mouse's Voice". Retrieved 2016-07-08.
  9. ^ AP (1991-02-08). "James MacDonald, 84, Mickey Mouse's Voice". Retrieved 2016-07-08.
  10. ^ MacDonald, Jimmy. "Obituaries: James MacDonald, 84, Mickey Mouse's Voice". LA Times. Retrieved September 27, 2012.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
original voice
Voice of Chip
Succeeded by
Tress MacNeille
Preceded by
Walt Disney
Voice of Mickey Mouse
Succeeded by
Wayne Allwine