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Kathryn Beaumont - Voice of Wendy Darling and Alice in Wonderland

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Peter Pan
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Kathryn Beaumont is the memorable voice behind two of the most lovely sounding characters in animation history: Wendy Darling and Alice in Wonderland. Talking to her now, for the 60th anniversary release of Peter Pan, she still sounds just as wonderfully polite and whimsical as the young girl who brought those familiar characters to life.

What did Kathryn do after working with Disney on two magical films? She went to school and became a teacher. A decision like that might seem curious in this day and age when fame and fortune seem to be the most sought after prizes, but Kathryn was swayed more by the prospect of shaping young minds than of being in the spotlight. Still, she looks back on the experience at Disney with fond memories and sees it as an important life experience. Here is what she had to say about working with Disney as a young girl, and about the Diamond Edition release of the classic movie Peter Pan:

What was the most memorable part of working at Disney?

You look back on the role, and you remember so many wonderful experiences. What stands out, is the fact that I had some experience at MGM studio, and then I was over at Disney...and as a little child, I was noticing big differences. When you have that experience as a child you think, oh it’s all the same at the studios, so therefor I will go to the next studio and it’s going to be the same. And of course it wasn’t anything like it. And I think I picked up on this wonderful atmosphere, where it was very relaxed and everbody was just so enthusiastic about what they were doing.

And when I got to know everybody, I became sort of a part of this creative process. They were creating the story and the film. They were doing all this wonderful artwork, and they were embracing me by bringing me in and showing me -- well this is what we’re doining now and this is what your part is going to be. So, I felt that I was really a part of everything and I think that was what made it such a spectacular experience was to see that creativity.

And I was kind of aware. I would sit in awe at when they were discussing the scene that was going to be filmed and all of that, and I would be watching and they put the scene together before they even wrote a script. It was all on storyboard and just being there for the process was great, but seeing how they made changes and what they did –- I was fascinated with that, so I was old enough to evaluate and see how exciting this all was and my being a part of it was even more exciting.

How is it that Peter Pan is still relevant 60 years later?

You know, you watch the films, and they don’t date. They’re still relevant to us now with so many years in between, and so much that’s changed in everything in the world. And we still love those stories, and that’s what’s so remarkable about Disney.

Why did you leave acting behind?

Probably, I didn’t have let’s say maybe the passion for this is what I want to do the rest of my life. I had this opportunity, and I was thrilled and grateful with everything I was doing, but I also needed to explore a little bit further. I wasn’t quite sure where my future might go. And I also felt that I had not had any experience in a public school here in America, and I sort of wanted to have that experience as well. So, I went to public high school finished that, and then went to college.

And that was when I was trying to find a direction, and yes, I started to get a teaching credential. I walked into the classroom, because we had to have teacher training, and I became so wrapped up when I got to work with the classroom – managing classroom control, how you do a lesson, what a lesson involves – all of that which is also fascinating to me. So, all of that is what sort of made my decision and I never looked back.

I really loved being a teacher because, I loved working with the children. And I also loved to see the development through the year that I was with them. So, I was just perfectly satisfied with what I was doing, and that’s why I stayed with teaching.

What can children today learn from Peter Pan?

Well, we all reach that stage where we’re afraid of growing up and all of that sort of thing. But yes, it does sort of tell about the brink and growing up and it’s okay. And first of all, Peter Pan is such a wonderful adventure story. The fantasy is great. We all love fantasy, even as adults. We accept the fantasy and we know it is, but it’s what storytelling is all about, and it’s just what’s so marvelous about it.

What's your favorite Disney movie (other than the two you worked on)?

Oh my gosh, well the list is long. I can remember getting in serious trouble one day as a child, because there was a little local movie theater near us and Bambi was my favorite, and I went to see it. Well, after it was over the announcement came on, “In 10 minutes we’re going to see Bambi again” right? Well, guess what I didn’t realize as a kid, is of course it runs continually throughout the afternoon and into the eventing –- there’s a 2o’clock, a 4 o’clock, a 6 o’clock... I didn’t realize that. Oh, you mean I can sit here and see it again, and I never thought, I just watched it. And when I got home, did I get in trouble! "Where have you been?" Of course, my mother was worried.

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