Phil Harris: Bandleader, vocalist, actor (1904 - 1995) | Biography
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Phil Harris
Bandleader, vocalist, actor

Phil Harris

Phil Harris
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Bandleader, vocalist, actor
Was Singer Actor Bandmaster Musician Conductor Dub actor Film actor Voice actor Comedian Television actor Composer Songwriter Jazz musician
From United States of America
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio Humor Music
Gender male
Birth 24 June 1904, Indiana, USA
Death 11 August 1995, Rancho Mirage, USA (aged 91 years)
Star sign Cancer
Spouse: Alice Faye
Phil Harris
The details (from wikipedia)


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.

His first name "Wonga" is said to derive from a Cherokee word meaning "messenger of fleet" or, perhaps more accurately translated, "fast messenger."

On September 2, 1927, he married actress Marcia Ralston in Sydney, Australia; they had met when he played a concert date.

Harris in The High and the Mighty

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.

Harris, Faye, and their two daughters, Alice and Phyllis, in 1948

After radio

A Democrat, he supported the campaign of Adlai Stevenson during the 1952 presidential election.

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.

Bing Crosby

Harris was a lifelong friend of singer and actor Bing Crosby. He appeared on telecasts of Bing's Pro-Am Golf Tournament from Pebble Beach, California.


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.

In 1994, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars was dedicated to him.

Radio appearances

Year Program Episode/source
1951 Suspense Death on My Hands
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 24 Apr 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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