MEET THE CHARACTERS Coming Fall 2013 For A Limited Time ©2013 Disney MOWGLI © Disney The jungle’s favorite mancub, his adventures were first told ...

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Coming Fall 2013 For A Limited Time ©2013 Disney

MOWGLI © Disney

The jungle’s favorite mancub, his adventures were first told within Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Mowgli’s Stories.” Walt Disney’s 22nd animated feature film, ‘The Jungle Book,’ features the story of an abandoned human boy who is raised by the animals of the jungle. Life is seemingly happy for young Mowgli, but with one minor problem – which part of the animal kingdom does he belong to? Throughout the film, he is presented with a number of identities - wolf, elephant, bear, ape, snake, even vulture, but none provide the answer. Try as he might to fit in, it’s his jungle friends who realize Mowgli clearly belongs in the man-village and they help him find his way. As carefree as Mowgli’s days in the jungle may seem, the making of this Disney classic was not without problems. As production ran on over a lengthy period of four years, the initial boy cast as the role of Mowgli experienced a dramatic change as his voice began to shed its high-pitched innocence. Numerous voices were tested and it was young Bruce Reitherman, the son of ‘Woolie’ Reitherman, the director of the picture, who stepped into the vacated spot. Bruce’s voice matched the previous young actor’s perfectly. A lot of time and money could have been saved if they would have utilized both boys voices in combination, but according to the animators, Walt was such a perfectionist that he called for a complete re-recording of the entire film using Bruce’s voice. Largely animated by Ollie Johnston, one of Walt’s ‘Nine Old Men,’ the character of Mowgli taps into a full range of emotions as the quintessential kid who gets to play all day and actually talk with the animals of the jungle. He is the memorable little boy who fulfills every child’s fantasy to be at home in the jungle!

Coming Fall 2013 For A Limited Time ©2013 Disney


Well over ten rainy seasons ago, Baheera heard a strange noise in the jungle which turned out to be the wailing of an abandoned mancub. The wise panther gave him to a family of wolves who adopted him and raised Mowgli as their own. After the threat of Shere Khan’s return to that part of the jungle, it was determined that the safest thing for the mancub would be to return him to the man-village. As Mowgli’s reluctant escort from the jungle, Bagheera spends most of his time wishing he hadn’t volunteered for this particular duty. A sophisticated panther, he serves as the narrative eyes and ears of the jungle and is arguably the central character of Walt Disney’s interpretation of Rudyard Kipling’s tale of the jungle. Unselfish in his relationship to Mowgli, Bagheera is at once annoyed, stern and deeply dedicated when it comes to the care of the mancub. Serving as the conscience of the story, he is constantly ready to do what is right for the boy, despite his own feelings and emotions. Inspired by the personality and the voice of the famed character actor Sebastian Cabot, Bagheera is one of several roles portrayed by this Disney veteran. A frequent narrator of many Disney nature adventures along with the “Winnie the Pooh” cartoons, Cabot was also the voice of Sir Ector in the Studio’s previous animated feature, “The Sword in the Stone.”

Coming Fall 2013 For A Limited Time ©2013 Disney


The self-proclaimed King-of-the-Jungle, King Louie has one chief ambition -- to become a human being. The reasoning behind his eager drive to ‘be-like-you’ is to know the secret of controlling man’s ‘red flower’ - fire. Believing Mowgli holds the secret of this power King Louie has his army of guerrilla monkeys bring the boy in for a little interrogation…King Louie style. Brilliantly scatted and voiced by bandleader, Louis Prima, King Louie goes down in animation history as the character who turns a supplementary song ‘I Wanna Be Like You,’ into a frontline, featured number. “The bunch of us flew in to play for the animators so they could study the way we perform and get a feeling of us in action. We spent the entire afternoon in an empty soundstage laying down number after number. They kept asking us to play different things and wouldn’t let us stop.” Inspired by the showmanship of Louis Prima and his band, the Disney animators infused the excitement of their performance into the final animated characters. Louis Prima’s enthusiasm with the characters was evident, “This cat really rocks the jungle. In fact, the whole monkey tribe in the picture swings!” Handing out bananas as if they were cigars doled out by an overzealous politician eager for votes, King Louie is hardly a villain in this scenario. Indeed, one area that critics have pointed out about Disney’s ‘The Jungle Book,’ is the fact that there are no real villains. If we can accuse King Louie of any villainous act, it might be in the buffoonish manner he attempts to swindle naïve, little Mowgli out of his presumed ability to control fire. But with such a swingin’ style about him, one can hardly find fault in this would-be King!

Coming Fall 2013 For A Limited Time ©2013 Disney

BALOO © Disney

Boisterous, burly, blue-grey and big, Baloo originally began as nothing more than a cameo role. The animators found Phil Harris’s vocalization of this big fella so fascinating to work with, that Baloo developed into one of the films major stars. Laid-back and easy going, Baloo is the perfect counterpoint to Bagheera’s constant concern. Referring to him as a ‘jungle-bum’ along with several other colorful references, Bagheera thinks very little of Baloo’s casual ways. Taking his freedom to excess, the panther is worried that Mowgli will follow Baloo’s example and become nothing more than a pest of the jungle. Yet as carefree and easy as this big bear can be, he’s the first to risk his life to save Mowgli from the treachery of Shere Khan. This extraordinary level of courage and loyalty within Baloo somehow seems to fit his character perfectly. Such strength, when combined with his laid-back manner, gives Baloo, much like his physical form, a well-rounded depth of character. The friendship he shares with Mowgli is indeed light-hearted and fun, but perhaps it’s this act of heroism that unlocks Baloo’s unselfish side, permitting him to do what is best for Mowgli in the long-run. Introduced by one of the most memorable songs every written for a character, ‘The Bare Necessities’ clearly conveys Baloo’s general jungle philosophy. Indeed, events unfold throughout the course of the song that seem to support Baloo’s belief that what you need, will always come your way -- bananas conveniently fall from the trees, just when he simply stretches out his paw. Joyous and spontaneous, Baloo

Coming Fall 2013 For A Limited Time ©2013 Disney

KAA © Disney

Sssneaky, ssslithering and sssuffering from a sssevere sssinus condition, this pesky python is far less threatening than he would first seem. Between his sacroiliac problems and the constant knot in his tail, Kaa is more-likely the jungle hypochondriac. No matter how crafty Kaa can be by ensnaring his prey into his coils with one hypnotic look from his evil stare, Mowgli somehow manages to shrug him off, sending Kaa slithering into the jungle with some new ailment. It seems the casting department at the studio was undone trying to find the perfect ‘hiss’ for this funny boa constrictor and it was Walt Disney’s guiding genius that came up with the answer. Masterfully voiced and inspired by the legendary Sterling Holloway, Kaa becomes a more frightening fellow by sound, than by sight. In a complete reversal from his usual characters such as cats, mice, bears, storks and penguins, Holloway was stopped by Walt in the studio commissary to see how ‘Winnie-the-Pooh and the Honey Tree,’ was progressing. During this conversation, Walt realized the voice of Holloway might be perfect for the elusive jungle python’s hissing dialogue. “I tried on voices with all kinds of hisses and thought it would be funny to have a snake that tried to be mean but really wasn’t,” recalled Holloway. As the character of Kaa developed, it was soon apparent that this sinister snake deserved more of a role than originally planned. Before production was finished, an additional scene and the song, “Trust In Me,” by the Academy Award-winning composer team of The Sherman Brothers, completed Kaa’s winding role.

Coming Fall 2013 For A Limited Time ©2013 Disney


Everyone in the jungle fears Shere Khan. The very mention of his name strikes dread in the hearts of every jungle citizen. Yet, for all this ferocious fury, Shere Khan seems far too civilized for such vicious behavior. Droll, witty, urbane and sophisticated, one gets the sense that he’s a bit bored with the usual antics of the jungle inhabitants. Clearly, Shere Khan welcomes a break in this tediousness with his stalking of the little man-cub, Mowgli. Don’t let his ambiguity fool you, Shere Khan could devour his unwitting prey with one swift, cold and calculating pounce. It seems that only a few creatures in the jungle are unafraid of Shere Khan’s presence. Mowgli can’t be bothered with such annoyances and Colonel Hathi is quite certain that his trained pachyderm patrol is fully capable of prevailing against the jungle’s evil foe. Baloo doesn’t seem to give Shere Khan a second thought until he must finally take this tiger on to protect his best buddy, Mowgli. Shere Khan is inspired and based on the suave and sophisticated personality of the Academy Award-winning actor of stage and screen, George Sanders. Walt’s approach in developing the character of Shere Khan, from the famous ‘Mowgli’ stories of Rudyard Kipling, was to avoid the ferocious stereotype of this jungle beast. Critics found Sanders interpretation of this treacherous tiger a bit too cultured, but there clearly is a calculating wryness about his portrayal. Sanders debonair performance was captured in his first recording session, not requiring any additional takes.

Coming Fall 2013 For A Limited Time ©2013 Disney


In search of a place to ‘fit-in’ and finally finding an animal close to his size, Mowgli eagerly joins ranks with the elephant parade. Baby Elephant is the junior version of Colonel Hathi, and clearly is the marching apple of his father’s eye. This little elephant quickly coaches Mowgli in his pachyderm-in-training drills. Voiced by a very young Clint Howard, Baby Elephant quickly becomes one of Mowgli’s many jungle friends. The unwilling recruits of the elephant herd include Bugler, who is capable of trumpeting so loudly that the entire jungle shakes. Slob elephant is not only the scruffiest member of the herd, but also the hungriest as any pause in the parading finds him contently grazing. The Lieutenant Elephant has a snappy haircut until Colonel Hathi properly ‘cuts’ it down to size by noting it’s not regulation, but “… rather on the gaudy side, don’t you think?” Colonel Hathi’s wife Winifred is voiced by the legendary Verna Felton, who supplied one of the voices for another round of elephants in ‘Dumbo.’ The voice of conscience, Winifred soundly insists they search for the mancub, Mowgli, when he is discovered missing! The leader of the Elephant Herd Dawn Patrol is Colonel Hathi, a former member of Her Majesty’s Fifth Pachyderm Brigade. Voiced by J. Pat O’Malley, Colonel Hathi’s days are spent drilling his herd in the proper military fashion. Though most of his bulky, four-footed recruits are unwilling, Colonel Hathi is undeterred – in a wonderfully proper, British sort-of-way, believing in discipline above all else. Totally convinced that ‘an elephant never forgets,’ his memory is a bit short and clearly not quite as long as his loyal service record.

Coming Fall 2013 For A Limited Time ©2013 Disney

THE VULTURES Buzzy, Dizzy, Ziggy and Flaps – four feathered fowls who, at first, appear to be foes, but they quickly become whole-hearted friends to Mowgli at a crucial turning point in his jungle adventures. This feathered foursome bares a striking resemblance to another well-known group of the day, namely the Fab Four – The Beatles. Reminiscent of the legendary rock group in many ways from their mop-top hairstyles, to the various Liverpudlian brogues they each warble, this feathered flock is apparently more pre-occupied with contemplating what they want to do for the evening – a familiar refrain coming from any teen-ager – feathered or not! Though each has their own distinct characteristics, as a collective of typical teenagers, no single one of them could function on their own. Watching this flock’s antics, you get the sense this group could be found on any random corner in every part of the world – or jungle. One must note however, that when they do put their heads together to render a little musical number, it sounds much more like a barbershop quartet, than the latest sounds of the British Invasion.

THE WOLVES Discovered abandoned in the jungle, Mowgli is brought to a family of wolves by Bagheera to be raised along with their new litter of pups. Though we only meet them briefly at the beginning of Mowgli’s adventure, they are the source of vital nurturing that keeps Mowgli rooted in his jungle home. Rama, Mowgli’s adoptive father, is quite convincing as the paternal source of this familial foundation. Mowgli’s adoptive siblings are adorable little wolf cubs who are all lovingly cared for by their mother. This warm, nurturing environment seems to give credence to the persistent legends of children being raised in the wild by wolves and the Disney animators manage to establish an idyllic family-life where a young man-cub could want for nothing. But when Shere Khan is sited within the region, it is the wise, old leader of the pack, Akela, who makes the fateful decision which changes everything, sending Mowgli out on his own jungle journey to find a new home.

Coming Fall 2013 For A Limited Time ©2013 Disney

THE GIRL © Disney

It would require a powerful force to make Mowgli want to give-up his jungle paradise and become part of the man village. Walt was certain that this presented the biggest problem in his telling of ‘The Jungle Book.’ Not wanting a lot of complicated scenes that would slow the story down or weaken the overall telling of this adventure, Walt’s solution was quite simple: “We won’t show the village at all. We’ll just hint at it, have one very cute little girl come along a man-made path to meet him, and just end it that way.” Animated by Ollie Johnston, this little lass who comes from the man village clearly captivates Mowgli as she fetches water from the river.

Singing her siren song “My Own Home,” another memorable song from the multiaward-winning songwriters, The Sherman Brothers and interpreted by Darleen Carr, this mysterious, young girl weaves a powerful spell on the young mancub. Baloo advises him to “…forget about those – they ain’t nothin’ but trouble!” Mowgli, however, pays no attention and with a simple smile, he’s hers!

Coming Fall 2013 For A Limited Time ©2013 Disney