Legacy: Sterling Holloway
Actor Sterling Holloway may have been 87 when he died Nov. 22 of cardiac arrest in Los Angeles, but his voice was forever young. Even if you never saw Holloway, the comic character actor, in classic films like Meet John Doe (1941) and The Lady Is Willing (1942), you knew him as the voice of the stork who delivers Dumbo (1941) to the circus, Flower the skunk in Bambi (1942), the grinning Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland (1951), Kaa the sibilant constrictor in The Jungle Book (1967), and Roquefort the mouse in The Aristocats (1970).
Above all, Holloway was the voice of Winnie-the-Pooh — in Disney’s 1965 feature as well as the ’70s shorts. With that gravelly, chuckling voice, forever optimistic, Holloway’s Pooh was always a shade behind the eight ball, the neighborhood fat kid certain of a honey jar just around the corner.
But as comfy as he seemed on a soundtrack, the Georgia-born actor was really a stubborn eccentric who collected offbeat modern art and once said of his career, ”Everything I’ve done I’ve disliked.” Clearly, he was not just a Bear of Very Little Brain. But he knew how one sounded, and so will every Disney-watching cub for generations.