June 29th, 2005
Milwaukee: John Fiedler, the voice of Piglet in Walt Disney’s film adaptations of Winnie the Pooh, has died from cancer, aged 80, a day after the death of Paul Winchell, who voiced Tigger.
Fiedler’s distinctive soprano was once described as “the sound of an old child, tentative yet seasoned, breathless yet weary”.
“People will come up and say: ‘Gosh, I thought it was you,” Fiedler once told the Los Angeles Times. “Then I heard your voice and I knew.’ Nine times out of 10 they don’t know the name.”
As an actor, Fiedler played Juror No. 2, the unassuming bank clerk, in director Sidney Lumet’s classic 1957 courtroom drama 12 Angry Men, and Vinnie, one of the poker-playing buddies in the original Broadway production and movie version of Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple.
Fielder’s breathy voice was a natural for animated films.
When Walt Disney was casting voices for the 1968 short Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, Disney heard Fiedler’s voice and said, “That’s Piglet”, Fiedler’s brother James recalled being told.
Jim Cummings, now the voice of both Winnie and Tigger, said Fiedler’s personal sweetness extended to his vocal delivery for the character: “It was kind of like the wind blowing through tall grass,” he said. “It sounded homey and it sounded comforting.”
Of the characters he played, Fiedler identified most with Piglet. “There are elements of Piglet that are me: the shyness and the anxieties and fears,” he said. “Even after all these years. The more you know, the higher your standards are and the more you have to lose.”
Winchell, 82, who died on Friday, began playing Tigger in Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, which won an Oscar for best animated short film.
He played Pooh’s bouncing buddy on TV and in movies until 1999, when Cummings also took on Tigger.
The Washington Post, The New York Times