Actress Russi Taylor, who voiced both Disney’s Minnie Mouse and Martin Prince on The Simpsons, died Friday at the age of 75, Variety reports.
Born in Cambridge, Mass. in 1944, Taylor’s voiceover career began with Toys R Us ads in the 1970s in which she played members of Geoffrey the Giraffe’s family. In 1979, The Sears Radio Theater gave her an early lead role as a 14-year-old who begins remembering her past lives in an episode that loosely riffs on The Exorcist. In 1980, she voiced Strawberry Shortcake in the Kenner Toys’ syndicated TV special The World of Strawberry Shortcake, a role she reprised in the yearly Strawberry Shortcake television specials that followed. Taylor’s resume that decade is a depressing reminder of the degree to which animation at the time revolved around toy commercials disguised as entertainment: she also appears in a wide variety of My-Little-Pony-related properties, the Pound Puppies TV series, and even a series dedicated to the now comprehensively-forgotten toy franchise that was The Glo-Friends.
In 1986 she landed her signature role, beating out 200 other applicants in an audition to provide the voice of Minnie Mouse. Taylor was the seventh person to officially voice Minnie and the most recent link in a chain going back to Walt Disney himself. At Disney, Taylor also voiced Huey, Dewey, and Louie on DuckTales, and took roles in a wide variety of spinoffs and direct-to-video like the Little Mermaid TV show and The Fox and the Hound 2. She also met her second husband at Disney: Wayne Allwine, who voiced Mickey Mouse for more than thirty years. Allwine and Taylor, who used to make joint appearances at Disney events, were married from 1991 until Allwine’s death in 2009. Disney CEO Robert Iger released the following statement celebrating Taylor’s legacy:
Taylor’s second-best-known role was also for a Disney project, although it wasn’t a Disney project when she was cast: Since 1990, she has voiced Martin Prince, the overly-enthusiastic teacher’s pet on The Simpsons. The best appreciation of Martin Prince as a character is Danny Ortberg’s definitive 2014 essay about him for The Toast, but to appreciate Taylor’s performance, all you really need to do is listen to her breathy delivery of “This is the stuff dreams are made of” in “Radioactive Man.” Simpsons writer and producer Matt Selman saluted Taylor’s work on Twitter:
Taylor was nominated for a Primetime Emmy in 2018 for her work on the Disney Channel’s The Scariest Story Ever: A Mickey Mouse Halloween Spooktacular, in which she voiced six separate parts: Huey, Dewey, Louie, Grandma, The Witch, and, of course, Minnie Mouse.