Open main menu

Jimmy MacDonald (sound effects artist)

John James MacDonald (May 19, 1906 – February 1, 1991) was a Scottish-born American animator, voice actor, musician, and the original head of the Disney sound effects department. He was also the voice of Mickey Mouse from 1948 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, original head of Disney sound effects department
Years active1934–1977
Spouse(s)Roberta MacDonald[2]
(m. ?–1991, his death)


Early lifeEdit

He was born in Dundee, Scotland, [5] 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.

Career and 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.[6][7]

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[8] 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,[citation needed] 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.


Having retired in 1977, MacDonald died of heart failure on February 1, 1991 at his home,[9] and was buried in Glendale's Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "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". 2009-12-23. Retrieved 2017-09-01.
  6. ^ Interview: Jimmy MacDonald - The Dundee voice of Disney
  7. ^ James MacDonald – Variety
  8. ^ 1912-2004., Thomas, Frank, (1995). The illusion of life : Disney animation. Johnston, Ollie, 1912-2008., Thomas, Frank, 1912-2004. (1st Hyperion ed.). New York: Hyperion. ISBN 0786860707. OCLC 32509417.
  9. ^ 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