Jimmy MacDonald (John James MacDonald)

Jimmy MacDonald

He was born in the family home at 268 West Street Crewe, Cheshire on May 19, 1906. His parents were Richard William MacDonald and Minnie Hall. The family emigrated to America when MacDonald was six months 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.  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).  James MacDonald did the yodeling for the dwarfs in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) as well as doing some sounds for Dopey such as his hiccuping and sobbing.

By 1947, Walt Disney was getting too busy and too hoarse from smoking to continue voicing Mickey Mouse, so he was replaced by MacDonald, who voiced some parts of Mickey for the film Fun and Fancy Free (1947). MacDonald voiced the mouse until 1977, when he was replaced by young Disney sound effects man Wayne Allwine for The New Mickey Mouse Club (Allwine’s first theatrical role of Mickey was in the 1983 featurette Mickey’s Christmas Carol).  MacDonald was also the original voice actor for Chip, one half of the duo Chip and Dale. He provided the voice of Lumpjaw in Fun and Fancy Free, Jaq and Gus and Bruno the dog 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), Shere Kahn’s roars and Mowgli’s brothers in The Jungle Book (1967), and the hyena in Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971). He even appeared in the feature film Toby Tyler (1960) as the Circus Band Drummer, but was uncredited. He also appeared in Fantasia (1940) as one of the musicians.  MacDonald also found time to play 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, and was buried in Glendale’s Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, where Disney is also buried.

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  • May, 19, 1906
  • United Kingdom
  • Crewe, Cheshire


  • February, 01, 1991
  • USA
  • Glendale, California

Cause of Death

  • heart failure


  • Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)
  • Los Angeles, California
  • USA

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