Robie Lester (March 23, 1925 – June 14, 2005) was an American Grammy-nominated voice actress and singer.
Lester was born in Detroit, Michigan and raised in northern Ontario, Canada. After a few years in Detroit, she joined the US Army Air Corps before attending UCLA with a major in music. In Hollywood, she worked with Henry Mancini and Herb Alpert, recorded for Liberty, Warner Brothers and A&M Records and sang demos for songwriters.
Work in commercials
Lester was one of the busiest voice-over artists in early 1960s commercials, working in many commercials for Kelloggs breakfast cereal. She was first heard as both of Toucan Sam's infant nephews, with Sam played by Mel Blanc. She also voiced one of the two battling Smackin' Brothers for Sugar Smacks, and sang the commercial's jingle.
Story reader for Disney
In the early 1960s, Disney songwriters Richard and Robert Sherman brought Lester to the attention of Disney's in-house record label. Lester's voice was heard on literally dozens of Disney's children's records. One such record was The Story and Song Of the Haunted Mansion which also featured the voices of Thurl Ravenscroft and Ronnie (Ron) Howard. Her singing voice was heard on the song "Hippity Hop" from the Disney Album "Peter Cottontail and Other Funny Bunnies". and " Beginning in 1965, Lester was the "Disneyland Story Reader" on records where she read the stories, acted out all the parts and reminded children to "turn the page" in their accompanying booklet. Her famous phrase “when Tinker Bell rings her little bells...turn the page" was heard by countless children of a generation. Her "Storyteller" album for The Aristocats was nominated for a 1970 Grammy Award.
Mrs. Santa Claus
One of her most famous roles was as "Miss Jessica", the schoolteacher who becomes Mrs. Kris Kringle (Santa Claus) in the 1970 Rankin-Bass TV special Santa Claus is Coming to Town. In the Christmas special, Lester sings a powerful ballad entitled "My World Is Beginning Today" where her character literally lets her hair down and comes to the aid of her future husband, Kris Kringle (a.k.a. Santa Claus).
Eva Gabor's singing voice
Lester spent her final years in Fillmore, California, writing novels, fund raising and crusading for animal rights. She gratefully discovered a fan base that had grown up with her work. Her last voice performance was for the Adventures in Odyssey radio series. Lester was married to producer Geoff Eccleston, had one daughter Mindy, and three grandchildren.