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Robie Lester finally officially acknowledged as singing voice of Duchess

Discussion in 'Archive' started by Greg Ehrbar, Feb 5, 2008.

  1. Greg Ehrbar

    Greg Ehrbar Member

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    This is an item I've just added to my blog that I wanted to make sure all of you also got to see:

    Back when acclaimed writer/producer Les Perkins told Tim and I he was preparing a wonderful new Disney DVD bonus feature that acknowledged Robie Lester as the singing voice of Duchess, we had our fingers crossed, hoping nothing would prevent it. Fortunately, when you see the "Deleted Song" Bonus Feature on the new THE ARISTOCATS SPECIAL EDITION DVD released today, you and world will see the great Richard Sherman host a seven-minute segment telling, for the first time, the story behind the song, "She Never Felt Alone."

    In the finished film, Duchess -- with the speaking voice of Eva Gabor -- recites a few lines of the song's lyrics. But originally it was a full-fledged song, performed by our beloved Disneyland Story Reader, the late Robie Lester.

    Tim supplied the personal photos of Robie for Les, which she herself had provided for use in Mouse Tracks. You'll see one photo in which Robie is made up as the Blue Fairy, a publicity shot from a musical TV version she did of "Pinocchio" with Paul Winchell.

    Even we have never heard the snippet of studio chat, as well as the song demo, that is heard in this new segment. Of course, Robie can be heard in the finished film singing "Scales and Arpeggios" and the solo with the harp during "Ev'ry body Wants to Be a Cat." She later also sang "Rescue Aid Society" for Bianca in The Rescuers.

    Disneyland Records' fully-orchestrated version of "She Never Felt Alone," sung by Robie and produced by Camarata, was released on CD a few years ago on an abbreviated disc called Songs from The Aristocats.

    But the big news is that Robie Lester is finally being publicly acknowledged on the new DVD by Disney for her contributions to two animated features. Her husband Geoff was delighted to hear the news and to share it all with her daughter and grandchildren.
     
  2. Gurgitoy2

    Gurgitoy2 Active Member

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    "Tim supplied the personal photos of Robie for Les, which she herself had provided for use in Mouse Tracks. You'll see one photo in which Robie is made up as the Blue Fairy, a publicity shot from a musical TV version she did of "Pinocchio" with Paul Winchell."

    Wow, I've never heard of this, was it a Disney special and featured songs from the movie, or was it something else? I'm really curious now, since this is something that sounds interesting. When was this TV version aired, or was it?
     
  3. Greg Ehrbar

    Greg Ehrbar Member

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    Well, I've been research it since you asked, and here's what I've been able to find out so far. To the best of my knowledge, Paul Winchell did an original musical version of Pinocchio on Decca Records in the fifties. It shows up on eBay occasionally but it's usually pricey. Robie does not play the Blue Fairy on the LP.

    Robie told Tim and I that the special in which she appeared was on the ABC network. I can't find it on the imdb or anywhere else but that does not mean it did not air. A ventriloquist named Jerry Layne is selling a CD of the album on his website here: http://www.jerrylayne.com/html/booksvideos.html. He also was not aware of the TV version.

    It's possible that the special was only shown regionally, or was national but pre-empted in some cities by local programming. Another mystery unravels...
     

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  4. Gurgitoy2

    Gurgitoy2 Active Member

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    Thanks for digging up some more info, Greg. It sounds interesting, I wonder why it's so hard to find info for? It must not have been a Disney version, I guess....otherwise they would have done something with it.

    Oh, and all this time I thought Robie's name was pronounced "Robby", but after watching the Aristocats DVD, they say it more like "Robe-y"...interesting.
     
  5. Tim Hollis

    Tim Hollis Member

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    Greg is right that Robie insisted that the special aired on ABC, but when we went through some of her scrapbook materials, from the ads and articles relating to Winchell's Pinocchio, apparently it was strictly a production of the local Los Angeles ABC affiliate (whatever call letters they were using at the time). Robie, of course, really would not have known whether the show was being seen nationally or not. Apparently that was in the days when local stations rarely if ever saved anything on video tape, so her Blue Fairy photos seem to be as close to seeing that show as we'll get.
     

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