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One year ago: Dallas McKennon

July 14, 2010 |  6:00 am

Dallas-Mckennon Dallas McKennon, tall, gangly and sporting a bushy white beard, was easily enough recognized on screen. It was his voice talents, however, that earned him the most fame. McKennon, an exuberant character actor and voice actor since the 1950s, died one year ago.

McKennon could bend his voice in endless variations to bring personality to a host of sound roles. He helped enliven Gumby, Archie Andrews, Buzz Buzzard and many other animated characters. At Disney theme parks, it is in fact McKennon who warns riders on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad to hang on to their hats and glasses because "this here's the wildest ride in the wilderness!"

In addition to voice acting, he had roles in Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 suspense film "The Birds," the 1967 Elvis Presley vehicle "Clambake," and he hosted a live children's radio show in Portland, Ore.

McKennon, who was born in rural eastern Oregon, said his voice acting began during his childhood when he would try to imitate the sounds of farm animals. He went to drama school when he was older and served in the Army Signal Corps during World War II.

"He was an entertainer," Will Ryan, a friend and fellow voice actor, told The Times. "There was something of the 6-year-old in him, no matter what his age was."

For more on the voice-bending actor, read Dallas McKennon's obituary by The Times.

-- Michael Farr

Photo: Dallas McKennon