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The distinctive voice that stands alone
Thurl Ravenscroft might not be a name you recognize but if you grew up watching the 1966 animated Dr. Seuss classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas as I did you recognize his deep baritone voice. I assumed Boris Karloff who narrated the holiday classic was singing the song "You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch" but I was wrong.
I found out after close to 6 decades of enjoying the Christmas cartoon that it was Ravenscroft with the deep baritone. I was not alone as Wikipedia says Ravenscroft's name was accidentally omitted from the credits and it was generally assumed that Karloff or someone else was singing.
One of Ravenscroft's best-known uncredited works is as the vocalist for the song "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch." His name was accidentally omitted from the credits, leading many to believe that the cartoon's narrator, Boris Karloff, sang the song, while others cited Tennessee Ernie Ford as the song's signature voice.
The song, now credited to Ravenscroft, peaked on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart at number 32 for the week ending January 2, 2021. Thanks to "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch", Thurl Ravenscroft has officially hit the Top 40 as a solo artist
Ravenscroft was born on February 6, 1914, and began his career as a singer at a young age. After graduating from the Otis Art Institute in California, he founded the male quartet The Mellomen, in which he provided the bass. While the Mellomen never became a household name, the group was quite active for over 30 years, providing backup vocals for such famous artists as Rosemary Clooney, Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, and Doris Day1.
A Disney sensation
Thurl’s deep, distinctive vocalization made him a valuable part of many audio tracks. He was the vocalist for two songs in Dumbo (1941): “Look Out for Mr. Stork” and “Pink Elephants on Parade.” Ravenscroft also voiced Black Bart in The Sword in the Stone and Captain the Horse in One Hundred and One Dalmatians2. He was a frequent performer in the chorus for films like Sleeping Beauty (1959), The Aristocats (1970), and Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971).
Ravenscroft married June Seamans in 1946 and they had two children. June passed away in 1999 from unknown causes. Ravenscroft semi-retired and did not work at any other studio. He continued to voice Tony the Tiger through 2004 (with Kellogg's providing limo transportation. Kellogg's)
That same year he was interviewed by the Disney "Extinct Attractions Club" website. Ravenscroft died from prostrate cancer at his home on May 22, 2005, and was buried at the Memorial Gardens at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California.
In addition to appearing in animated Disney productions, Thurl also helped bring the immersive attractions at California’s Disneyland to life. He did voice-over work and singing for various Disneyland attractions, including The Haunted Mansion, Country Bear Jamboree, Mark Twain Riverboat, Pirates of the Caribbean, Disneyland Railroad, and Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room 2. Thurl Ravenscroft was inducted as a Disney Legend in 1951.
For those who are interested, there are several ways you can watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas and relive fond memories in 2023. One airing was on November 30 and I was not aware of it so I am sharing for other fans.
The animated holiday classic airs again at 8 p.m. ET on Dec. 25. It will also be available to stream on Peacock Dec. 20-Dec. 31. On Monday December 12 at 8:00 and again at 8:30 p.m. How the Grinch Stole Christmas will air on TBS.