Back to Neverland with Kathryn Beaumont the Voice of Wendy in Peter PanSunny Chanel
I have a huge soft spot for Walt Disney’s Peter Pan. Not only did my dad love the film when he was a kid and I too adored it as a child, but my own daughter totally fell in love with the 1953 classic Peter Pan. I can not tell you how many times we’ve watching the film over the years and she has Peter Pan art on her walls, was Peter Pan one year for Halloween and we always head for the Peter Pan ride at Disneyland first thing.
Yes, our family really, really loves Peter Pan. Doing the math, that is three generations who have traveled to Neverland with Peter, Michael, Johnathan and Wendy proving just how timeless this film is.
This year Walt Disney’s Peter Pan celebrates it’s 60th birthday with a new Diamond Edition DVD and Blu-Ray release. And with that comes some incredible opportunities for those who write about these sort of things for a living. It was an absolute thrill to be given the opportunity to chat, for ten glorious minutes, with the one and only Kathryn Beaumont, the woman who was the voice talent for Peter Pan’s Wendy (she also was Alice in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland). We talked about Wendy, Walt and how often she returns to Neverland.
Check out my interview with this Disney legend right here:
60 Years! 1 of 6Babble: It's been sixty years, can you believe it?
Ms. Beaumont: Don't remind me. It's been a long time but it's been a wonderful experience all the way through. It's amazing that the Disney films have had a life from that time on and keep resonating with new generations. They've kept alive so well. They were wonderful stories and such a great collection of talented artists and writers who were at the studio together with Walt who put those wonderful productions together.
My daughter is 7, one of her favorite film. It has such a great shelf life, did you have any inkling that it would be such a timeless classic at the time you were involved in the making of the film?
No, and I don't think anybody did. You hope that it is enjoyed at the time of the release and you don't know that it can go on and have the kind of life that it did. It's been amazing that his particular films - Disney - have had such a life and continue to be so. And the fact that we have the technology today to make additions and enhance in new ways but still retain that wonderful old story told in such a wonderful fashion.
Modeling 2 of 6You also worked as a model for the animators, was that just like playtime?
I had a lot of fun. You got to act out everything. Acting it out for the cameras, only for the animators that was used just for reference so the animators could see hoe the human body moves. they could draw to human figure and it is the most challenging part of animation. They were wonderful to work with, it was a wonderful experience.
Working With Walt 3 of 6What memories do you have of working with Walt Disney?
I had a very lovely experience, he was someone I felt extremely comfortable with, he had two daughters who were little older than I. Because of having children of his own, he understood the child's mind. He knew how to make me feel comfortable. The relationship was really good. He was someone who was visible. He would go go to the cafeteria, line up with everybody else and find a spot at the table. You'd see him in the hallways here and there. and occasionally he would pop in while we were doing recordings just to see how things were going. He wasn't pushy in any way and he was interested in what everyone was doing. If they asked, then he would come back with a suggestion. It was that kind of atmosphere of everyone pulling their own weight, with everyone being so creative, and it was that creativity that made these stories come alive. And that's what impressed me growing up; the creativity and the collaboration of everyone working together.
The Beginning 4 of 6
How did you get the job at Walt Disney in the first place?
In the beginning Walt was looking for an Alice that would be pleasing to both to American ears and British ears as well. I tested among many, many, many, and he found my voice was the most suitable. So I was with Disney for Alice and the Peter Pan story was going to be the next animated feature so they realized, this was a given, since it was British and they needed a British accent again. And Wendy was about the same age as I was, I was going towards adolesence as she was and so it just worked out perfectly. I finished one role and went right into the Wendy role. It was a busy time.
How old were you.
Well, I think was about 10 when I started Alice, the work for animation is a lot longer, so it took about two years for Alice and about another two for Peter Pan.I was with Disney for four years.
Teaching 5 of 6I had read you went on to become a elementary school teacher, did your students know of your Disney past?
At my school, I had been there for a long time, word had gotten around but it never was an issue at any time, expect when they were reissuing the film and then there was a fury of excitement about "oh, this is the voice of my teacher." Then it would go back to normal. But I would draw from what I learned at the studio, the art, the animation, the process. When we would start talking about the film, because they would have questions, they would be curious, we would talk about my role and we would talk about how the animation came about and we would do some very, very simple animation projects and they would learn a little about how you do a story board, how to make characters move, and then we do a little filming. they learned a lot about animation at that time.
Neverland 6 of 6How often do you return to Neverland?
We all want to go back to Neverland at some point in our day. When things are are going awry and you look back to that wonderful place just solace. Neverland is always around the corner isn't it?
The Peter Pan Diamond Edition comes out February 5th.
Read more from Sunny Chanel right here.