Providing the voice of Minnie Mouse — the beloved Disney character enamored with original Disney mascot, Mickey Mouse — for decades must have been easy for voiceover actor Russi Taylor.
That’s because not only was Taylor, who died from colon cancer Friday at the age of 75, an accomplished artist who’d previously voiced Strawberry Shortcake and Pebbles Flintstone, she also was deeply in love with Wayne Allwine, the actor who played Mickey from the ‘70s until he died in 2009.
In fact, Taylor first met Allwine while working on the 1988 Disney special Totally Minnie, according to the Washington Post.
“They were both in bad marriages when I started doing the voice [of Goofy] back in 1987,” actor Bill Farmer told the newspaper. “But over a couple of years, they just kind of became Mickey and Minnie. They got divorced from their respective spouses and then fell in love. Everyone saw it coming. Just watching them work together, I could see their relationship develop into something deeper than just a working relationship.”
Taylor and Allwine married each other in 1991 in Hawaii.
Yet they kept quiet about their romance, because they never wanted to overshadow Mickey and Minnie. Allwine would sometimes get around that during appearances by staying in character to show his love.
“Wayne would bring a little ukulele to riff and do little songs, and quite often, he would sing a little love song to Minnie, as Mickey,” Farmer said. “You knew it was Wayne talking to Russi.”
The pair also visited Disneyland, where they would use their voices to delight little ones, especially those who were having an unhappy moment.
When they were inducted into the Disney Legends hall of fame in 2008, Roy E. Disney described the couple as people who “gave generously of themselves for many charitable causes, especially when it came to working with children.”
In 2009, Allwine died at 62 of complications from diabetes, but Taylor continued to talk about her love.
Andrew Farago, the curator of San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum, told the Post that, as far as he was concerned, Taylor and Allwine were Minnie and Mickey: “Good-hearted, generous, kind to everyone they met. … I think they really embodied those characters.”
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