Harris in 1956
Wonga Philip Harris
June 24, 1904
Linton, Indiana, U.S.
|Died||August 11, 1995 (aged 91)|
|Resting place||Forest Lawn Cemetery, Cathedral City, California|
|Other names||Wonga Harris, Wonga P. Harris|
|Occupation||Comedian, jazz musician, singer, actor|
|Years active||1933–1991 (retired)|
(m. 1927; div. 1940)
(m. 1941; his death 1995)
Wonga Philip Harris (June 24, 1904 – August 11, 1995) was an American comedian, actor, singer, and jazz musician. As a voice actor, he played Baloo in The Jungle Book (1967), Thomas O'Malley in The Aristocats (1970), and Little John in Robin Hood (1973).
Early life and career
Harris was born in Linton, Indiana, but grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, and identified himself as a Southerner. His hallmark song was "That's What I Like About the South." He had a trace of a Southern accent and in later years made self-deprecating jokes over the air about his heritage. His parents were circus performers. His father, a tent bandleader, gave him his first job as a drummer with the circus's band.
In 1933, he made a short film for RKO called So This Is Harris!, which won an Academy Award for best live action short subject. He followed with a feature-length film, Melody Cruise. Both films were created by the same team that produced Flying Down to Rio, which started the careers of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. He also starred in I Love a Bandleader (1945) with Leslie Brooks. Here he played a house painter who gets amnesia, then starts to lead a band. He recorded Woodman, Spare That Tree (by George Pope Morris, Henry Russell) in 1947. His nickname was "Old Curly". Additionally, he appeared in The Wild Blue Yonder a.k.a. "Thunder Across the Pacific" (1951), alongside Forrest Tucker and Walter Brennan. He made a cameo appearance in the Warner Bros. musical, Starlift, with Janice Rule and Dick Wesson, and was featured in The High and the Mighty with John Wayne in 1954.
|Best of Jack Benny Spotlight Podcast! October 4, 1936 – Phil Harris' First Show|
|The Fitch Bandwagon/The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show, 102 episodes|
Harris worked as a voice actor for animated films, providing the voice of Baloo the bear in The Jungle Book (1967), Thomas O'Malley in The Aristocats (1970), and Little John in Robin Hood (1973). In 1989, he reprised his role as Baloo for the cartoon series TaleSpin, but after a few recording sessions he was replaced by Ed Gilbert.
Harris died of a heart attack at his Rancho Mirage home on August 11, 1995. Alice Faye died of stomach cancer three years later. He is interred at Forest Lawn Cemetery, Cathedral City, California.
Awards and honors
Harris was a resident and benefactor of Palm Springs, California, active in many local civic organizations.
|1929||Why Be Good||Drummer in band at The Boiler||Uncredited|
|1933||Melody Cruise||Alan Chandler|
|1933||So This Is Harris!||Himself||Short|
|1936||Double or Nothing||Himself||Short|
|1937||Turn Off the Moon||Himself|
|1937||Harris in the Spring||Himself|
|1939||Man About Town||Ted Nash|
|1940||Buck Benny Rides Again||Himself|
|1940||Dreaming Out Loud||Peter Atkinson|
|1945||I Love a Bandleader||Phil Burton|
|1950||Wabash Avenue||Mike Stanley|
|1951||Here Comes the Groom||Himself||Uncredited|
|1951||The Wild Blue Yonder||Sgt. Hank Stack|
|1954||The High and the Mighty||Ed Joseph|
|1956||Anything Goes||Steve Blair|
|1956||Good-bye, My Lady||A.H. "Cash" Evans|
|1956||Saturday Spectacular: Manhattan Tower||Billy||TV movie|
|1960||The Big Sell||Salesman|
|1963||The Wheeler Dealers||Ray Jay Fox|
|1964||The Patsy||Chic Wymore|
|1967||The Cool Ones||MacElwaine|
|1967||The Jungle Book||Baloo the Bear||Voice|
|1970||The Aristocats||Thomas O'Malley||Voice|
|1971||Tom Jones: Movin' Up the River||Himself|
|1971||The Gatling Gun||Luke Boland|
|1973||Robin Hood||Little John - A Bear||Voice|
|1991||Rock-a-Doodle||Narrator / Patou||Voice, (final film role)|
|1957||This Is Your Life||Himself|
|1964||Ben Casey||Clarence Simmons||Episode: "The Only Place Where They Know My Name"|
|1966||The Milton Berle Show||Himself||Episode #1.7|
|1966-1970||The Dean Martin Show||Himself||Eight episodes|
|1967||F Troop||Flaming Arrow||Episode: "What are you doing after the massacre"|
|1968||The Lucy Show||Phil Stanley||Episode: "Lucy and Phil Harris"|
|1969||The Johnny Cash Show||Himself||Episode #1.15|
|1970||This Is Tom Jones||Himself||Episode #2.19|
|1978||Fantasy Island||Will Fields||Episode: "Carnival/The Vaudevillians"|
|1980||The Love Boat||Harvey Cronkle||Episode: "Rent a Romeo/Matchmaker/Y' Gotta Have Heart"|
|1984||This Is Your Life||Himself|
|1985||The Disney Family Album||Himself||Episode: "Voice Actors"|
- NBC Salutes the 25th Anniversary of the Wonderful World of Disney – TV documentary (1978) – Himself
|1951||Suspense||Death on My Hands|
- "Radiography". The Los Angeles Times. 20 September 1936. p. 62. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
- "Phil Harris, Comic, Bandleader". The Press-Enterprise. Riverside, California. August 13, 1995. p. B5.
- "Benny Show's Phil Harris Dies at 89". Los Angeles Times. August 13, 1995.
- Motion Picture and Television Magazine, November 1952, page 33, Ideal Publishers
- Voice actor decisions – Baloo and Kit Jymn Magon, co-creator of TaleSpin who initially cast Harris for the role of Baloo: "his age was a factor. He didn't have the slick, con man timing anymore. I loved working with Phil, so I was distraught to inform management that he just wasn't going to work out for 65 episodes. (Besides, we had to chauffeur him to and from Palm Springs for the recording sessions – a 4 hour round trip!!)", Animationsource.org
- Lobosco, David (March 14, 2010). "THE BING CROSBY NEWS ARCHIVE: SPOTLIGHT ON PHIL HARRIS". Bingfan03.blogspot.com.
- Benny Show's Phil Harris Dies at 89, Obituary in the Los Angeles Times dated August 13, 1995 (retrieved June 30, 2012).
- Brooks, Patricia; Brooks, Jonathan (2006). "Chapter 8: East L.A. and the Desert". Laid to Rest in California: a guide to the cemeteries and grave sites of the rich and famous. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press. p. 245. ISBN 978-0762741014. OCLC 70284362.
- Henderson, Moya; Palm Springs Historical Society (2009). Images of America: Palm Springs. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing. p. 102. ISBN 978-0-7385-5982-7.
- "The Brightest Stars from New-York to Los Angeles" (PDF). Palmspringswalkofstars.com. Archived from the original on October 13, 2012.
- "Those Were the Days". Nostalgia Digest. 39 (1): 32–41. Winter 2013.
- Steen, Ivan D. (2001). "Harris, (Wanga) Phillip ("Phil")." The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives. Charles Scribner's Sons. Retrieved January 9, 2013 from HighBeam Research
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