Sterling Holloway

Sterling Price Holloway Jr. (January 14, 1905 – November 22, 1992)[3] was an American actor who appeared in over 100 films and 40 television shows. He was also a voice actor for The Walt Disney Company and served as the original voice of the title character in Walt Disney's Winnie the Pooh.

Sterling Holloway
Holloway, circa 1930s
Sterling Price Holloway, Jr.

(1905-01-14)January 14, 1905
DiedNovember 22, 1992(1992-11-22) (aged 87)
Alma materGeorgia Military Academy[1]
OccupationActor, comedian, voice actor
Years active1926–1986
Notable work
Original voice of Winnie the Pooh, Kaa, Roquefort, Cheshire Cat, Amos Mouse, Adult Flower and Mr. Stork
ChildrenRichard Holloway (adopted)[2]

Early life

Born in Cedartown, Georgia, Holloway was named after his father, Sterling Price Holloway (1864-1930), who, in turn, was named after a prominent Confederate general, Sterling "Pap" Price. His mother was Rebecca DeHaven Boothby (1879-1963). He had a younger brother named Boothby (1909-1978). The family owned a grocery store in Cedartown, where his father served as mayor in 1912. After graduating from Georgia Military Academy in 1920 at the age of fifteen, he left Georgia for New York City, where he attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.[4] While there, he befriended actor Spencer Tracy, whom he considered one of his favorite working colleagues.


Motion pictures and shorts

In his late teens, Holloway toured with stock company of The Shepherd of the Hills,[5][6] performing in one-nighters across much of the American West before returning to New York where he accepted small walk-on parts from the Theatre Guild, and appeared in the Rodgers and Hart review The Garrick Gaieties in the mid-1920s. A talented singer, he introduced "Manhattan" in 1925, and the following year sang "Mountain Greenery".[4]

He moved to Hollywood in 1926 to begin a film career that lasted almost 50 years. His bushy red hair and high pitched voice meant that he almost always appeared in comedies. His first film was The Battling Kangaroo (1926), a silent picture. Over the following decades, Holloway would appear with Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Lon Chaney Jr, Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, Bing Crosby, and John Carradine. In 1942, during World War II, Holloway enlisted in the United States Army at the age of 37 and was assigned to the Special Services. He helped develop a show called "Hey Rookie", which ran for nine months and raised $350,000 for the Army Relief Fund. In 1945, Holloway played the role of a medic assigned to an infantry platoon in the critically acclaimed film A Walk in the Sun. During 1946 and 1947, he played the comic sidekick in five Gene Autry Westerns.[7]

With Walt Disney

Walt Disney originally considered Holloway for the voice of Sleepy in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), but chose Pinto Colvig instead. Holloway's voice work in animated films began with Dumbo (1941), as the voice of Mr. Stork. Holloway was the voice of the adult Flower in Bambi (1942), the narrator of the Antarctic penguin sequence in The Three Caballeros (1944) and the narrator in the Peter and the Wolf sequence of Make Mine Music (1946).

He was the voice of the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland (1951), the narrator in The Little House (1952), Susie the Little Blue Coupe (1952), Lambert the Sheepish Lion (1952), Kaa the snake in The Jungle Book (1967), and Roquefort in The Aristocats (1970). He is perhaps best remembered as the voice of Winnie the Pooh in Disney's Winnie the Pooh featurettes through 1977. He was honored as a Disney Legend in 1991, the first person to receive the award in the Voice category. His final role was Hobe Carpenter, a friendly moonshiner who helps Harley Thomas (David Carradine) in Thunder and Lightning (1977).

Radio and recordings

Holloway acted on many radio programs, including The Railroad Hour, The United States Steel Hour, Suspense and Lux Radio Theater. In the late 1940s, he could be heard in various roles on NBC's "Fibber McGee and Molly". His voice retained a touch of its Southern drawl and was instantly recognizable. Holloway was chosen to narrate many children's records, including Uncle Remus Stories (Decca), Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes (Disneyland Records), Walt Disney Presents Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories (Disneyland Records) and Peter And The Wolf (RCA Victor).


Holloway easily made the transition from radio to television. He appeared on the Adventures of Superman as "Uncle Oscar", an eccentric inventor, and played a recurring role on The Life of Riley. He guest-starred on Fred Waring's CBS television program in the 1950s and appeared on Circus Boy as a hot air balloonist. Some other series on which he performed include Five Fingers (episode "The Temple of the Swinging Doll"), The Untouchables, The Real McCoys ("The Jinx"), Hazel, Pete and Gladys, The Twilight Zone ("What's in the Box"), The Brothers Brannagan, Gilligan's Island, The Andy Griffith Show, The Donald O'Connor Show, Peter Gunn, F Troop, and Moonlighting. During the 1970s, Holloway did commercial voice-overs for Purina Puppy Chow dog food and sang their familiar jingle, "Puppy Chow/For a full year/Till he's full-grown!". He also provided the voice for Woodsy Owl in several 1970s and 1980s United States Forest Service commercials. In 1982 he auditioned for the well-known comic book character Garfield but lost to Lorenzo Music. In 1984, he provided voice-over work for a commercial for Libby's baked beans.[8]

Final years, death and legacy

Holloway was a lifelong Democrat who supported the campaign of Adlai Stevenson during the 1952 presidential election[9]. Holloway adhered to Methodism[10].

Never married, Holloway once claimed this was because he felt lacking in nothing and did not wish to disturb his pattern of life,[7].

Holloway died from a cardiac arrest on November 22, 1992, in a Los Angeles hospital. His body was cremated and his ashes scattered in the Pacific Ocean.[11]

Fellow Winnie the Pooh cast member Hal Smith (who originated the character Owl) took over the role of Winnie the Pooh for the 1981 short Winnie the Pooh Discovers the Seasons. He would maintain the role until Jim Cummings replaced him in 1988 for The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and also took over most of Holloway's other voice roles, including Kaa in Jungle Cubs and The Jungle Book 2.


Feature films

Short subjects

  • The Battling Kangaroo (1926) as Napoleon French
  • The Girl from Everywhere (1927) as Assistant Director
  • The Girl from Nowhere (1928) as Minor Role (uncredited)
  • One Track Minds (1933) as Train Snack Salesman
  • Not the Marrying Kind (1933)
  • Meeting Mazie (1933)
  • Born April First (1934)
  • Pleasing Grandpa (1934)
  • Picnic Perils (1934)
  • Sterling's Rival Romeo (1934) as Sterling
  • Father Knows Best (1935) as Bashful Boy
  • My Girl Sally (1935)
  • Bring 'Em Back A Lie (1935)
  • Double Crossed (1935)
  • His Last Fling (1935)
  • The Pelican & The Snipe (1944) as Narrator (voice, uncredited)
  • The Cold-Blooded Penguin (1944) as Narrator (voice)
  • Donald's Crime (1945) as Donald's Conscience (voice)
  • Unusual Occupations L-5-2 (1945) as Himself
  • Peter & The Wolf (1946) as Narrator (voice)
  • Moron Than Off (1946) as Elmer Fossdinkle
  • Mr. Wright Goes Wrong (1946)
  • Scooper Dooper (1947) as Himself
  • Hectic Honeymoon (1947) as Eddie Jones
  • Mickey and the Beanstalk (1947) as Narrator (voice, 1955 TV version)
  • Speaking of Animals No. Y7-1: Dog Crazy (1947) as Dog Owner
  • Man or Mouse (1948) as Elmer Dinkle
  • Flat Feat (1948) as Officer Sterling Smith / Smith's Father
  • Lambert the Sheepish Lion (1952) as Narrator / Mr. Stork (voice)
  • Susie the Little Blue Coupe (1952) as Narrator (voice)
  • The Little House (1952) as Narrator
  • Ben and Me (1953) as Amos Mouse (voice)
  • Goliath II (1960) as Narrator (voice)
  • Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966) as Winnie the Pooh (voice)
  • Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968) as Winnie the Pooh (voice)
  • Man, Monsters & Mysteries (1974) as Nessie (voice)
  • Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too (1974) as Winnie the Pooh (voice)


  • Adventures of Superman (1953–55) as Prof. Oscar Quinn / Prof. Twiddle
  • The Life of Riley (1953–56) as Waldo Binny
  • The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet (episode "Pancake Mix"; 1953) as The Groceryman
  • Willy (1955) as Harvey Evelyn
  • Our Mr. Sun (1956) as Chloro Phyll (voice, uncredited)
  • Hemo the Magnificent (1957) as Lab assistant (uncredited)
  • The Real McCoys (episode "The Jinx"; 1960) as Orval McCoy
  • Zane Grey Theatre (episode "Blood Red"; 1961) as Luther
  • The Andy Griffith Show (episode "The Merchant of Mayberry"; 1962) as Bert, a traveling salesman
  • Hazel ("The Retiring Milkman" Season 3, Episode 13; 1963) as Claude the Milkman
  • The Twilight Zone (episode "What's in the Box"; 1964) as TV Repairman
  • The Restless Sea (1964) as Mr. H2O (voice)
  • Burke's Law (episode 28, "Who Killed Annie Foran?"; 1964) as Fisk
  • The Baileys of Balboa (1964–65) as Buck Singleton
  • F-Troop (in the episode "Wilton the Kid"; 1966) as Sheriff Pat Lawton
  • That Girl (episode 14, "Phantom of the Horse Opera"; 1966) as Everett Valentine
  • Gilligan's Island (1967) as Burt, a prisoner with a homing pigeon
  • Tony the Pony (1976) as GG, the Wizard
  • Tukiki and His Search for a Merry Christmas (1979) as Northwind (voice)
  • Federal Budget Review[12] (1980) as Man in Washington
  • We Think the World Is Round (1984) as Pegleg Pelican (voice)
  • Moonlighting (episode "Atomic Shakespeare"; 1986) as Narrator (voice) (final television appearance)


  • Uncle Remus Stories (Decca, 1947) as Narrator
  • Peter and the Wolf (RCA Victor, 1949) as Narrator
  • Alice in Wonderland (RCA Victor, 1951)[13] as the Cheshire Cat
  • Susie, the Little Blue Coupe (Decca, 1952)[14] as Narrator
  • The Little House (Decca, 1952)[14] as Narrator
  • The Sorceror's Apprentice/Peter and the Wolf (Disneyland, 1958)[15] as Narrator
  • The Country Cousin (Disneyland, 1959)[16] as Narrator
  • Goliath II (Disneyland, 1960)[17] as Narrator
  • The Grasshopper and the Ants (Disneyland, 1960)[18] as Narrator (also writer)
  • The Stories and Songs of Walt Disney's Three Little Pigs (Disneyland, 1961)[19] as Narrator
  • The Absent Minded Professor (Disneyland, 1961)[15] as Narrator
  • The Best Stories of Aesop (Disneyland, 1961)[15] as Narrator
  • Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes (Disneyland, 1963) as Narrator
  • Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories (Disneyland, 1964) as Narrator
  • Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (Disneyland, 1965)[15] as Winnie the Pooh
  • A Happy Birthday Party with Winnie the Pooh (Disneyland, 1966)[20] as Winnie the Pooh
  • Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (Disneyland, 1967)[21] as Winnie the Pooh/Narrator
  • Winnie the Pooh and the North Pole Expotition (Disneyland, 1968)[20] as Winnie the Pooh/Narrator
  • Winnie the Pooh and Tigger (Disneyland, 1968)[20] as Winnie the Pooh/Narrator
  • Winnie the Pooh and the Heffalumps (Disneyland, 1968)[20] as Winnie the Pooh/Narrator
  • The Aristocats (Disneyland, 1970)[15] as Roquefort
  • Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too (Disneyland, 1974)[15] as Winnie the Pooh
  • Winnie the Pooh for President (Disneyland, 1976)[20] as Winnie the Pooh


  1. "Sterling Holloway, Actor, 87, Is Dead – Voice of Pooh Bear". November 24, 1992. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  2. "Sterling Holloway, Voice of Disney Characters, Dies : Entertainment: Actor who made Winnie the Pooh speak also played country bumpkins in comedy films in the 1930s and '40s. He was 87. – latimes". November 24, 1992. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  3. "Sterling Holloway". AllMovie. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  4. Collura, Joe (July 7, 2008). "Sterling Holloway: A Way with Words". Classic Images. Retrieved August 21, 2018.
  5. "The Shepherd of the Hills". Cladirite Radio. Cladrite Radio. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  6. "It's Pure Sterling!". Kdmccrite. Kdmccrite. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  7. Rothel.
  8. Libbys Baked Beans 1984. January 11, 2014 via YouTube.
  9. Motion Picture and Television Magazine, November 1952, page 33, Ideal Publishers
  10. Morning News, January 10, 1948, Who Was Who in America (Vol. 2)
  11. "Sterling Holloway, Actor, 87, Is Dead; Voice of Pooh Bear". New York Times. November 24, 1992. Retrieved July 8, 2012.
  12. "Stan Freberg, Master of Satire: 1926-2015"
  13. "Walt Disney's "Alice in Wonderland"". Retrieved 2018-02-21.
  14. "Taking a Spin with Susie, the Little Blue Coupe". Retrieved 2018-02-21.
  15. "Sterling Holloway at Discogs". Retrieved 2018-02-21.
  16. "Walt Disney's "The Country Cousin" on Records". Retrieved 2018-02-21.
  17. "Disney s "Goliath II" (and Kevin Corcoran) on Records". Retrieved 2018-02-21.
  18. "Disney's "Grasshopper and the Ants" on Records". Retrieved 2018-02-21.
  19. "Walt Disney's "Three Little Pigs" on Records". Retrieved 2018-02-21.
  20. Hollis, Tim; Ehrbar, Greg (2006). Mouse Tracks: The Story of Disneyland Records. University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 978-1578068494. Retrieved 2018-02-21.
  21. "Disney's "Winnie the Pooh" on Records". Retrieved 2018-02-21.


  • Rothel, David. 1984. Those Great Cowboy Sidekicks. Scarecrow Press, Metuchen, New Jersey; ISBN 0-8108-1707-1
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