When Russi Taylor visited Disneyland as a young girl, she met Walt Disney. She thought that was the pinnacle of any experience any fan of the Magic Kingdom could ever have. As it turned out, it was only the beginning of a life — and love — connected to Disney’s creations.
Russi had just gotten off the Mark Twain boat ride with her family. They went looking for something to eat when Russi saw someone very familiar to her. A man was sitting on a bench, and she recognized him as Walt Disney himself.
Excitedly, she pointed the man out to her mother, who said, “Honey, it couldn’t be!” Russi was insistent, however, so her mother walked over and asked the stranger if he was, in fact, the man who was responsible for Disneyland and all of its characters.
When Disney confirmed his identity, Russi quickly rushed over and sat right beside him and started to talk. She remembers him asking her, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” Without hesitating, she replied, “I want to work for you.”
Perhaps she was wishing on a star because Russi’s dream came true. She came to work for Disney Studios and earned the coveted role of providing the voice for Mickey Mouse’s girlfriend, Minnie Mouse.
The opportunity arose in 1985 when Disney developed the show Totally Minnie. Russi got the job and continued as Minnie’s official voice for the next thirty years.
It was while working on Totally Minnie that she ran into Wayne Allwine. Wayne was the actor who supplied the voice to Minnie’s love interest, Mickey Mouse. “Wayne was coming out of a session as Mickey for Totally Minnie,” remembers Russi. “We met in the hallway. We just blended really well.”
Minnie and Mickey dated for decades but never tied the knot. The same is not true of Russi and Wayne. Five years after meeting, they were married. They were together for 18 years until Wayne’s death in 2009.
Russi continued to provide Minnie’s voice for another ten years, although she acknowledged it was difficult for her to address any lines to Mickey. She said for a while she just couldn’t get the words out because she could not separate her thoughts of the beloved mouse from her beloved spouse. She rose above the difficulties, however, and brought life to Minnie until 2019 when Russi died at the age of 75.
The next time you see Mickey and Minnie holding hands and looking lovingly at each other, remember the real-life romance behind those familiar and enduring voices.
Read more fun facts about marriage.
Read about more amazing coincidences.