Wayne Allwine, the actor who voiced Mickey Mouse for more than 30 years, has died.
The Walt Disney Co. says Allwine died Monday of complications from diabetes, with Russi Taylor, his wife of 20 years and the voice of Minnie Mouse, by his side. He was 62.
"Wayne dedicated his entire professional life to Disney," chief executive Robert Iger said in a statement Wednesday. "Over the last 32 years, (he) gave so much joy, happiness and comfort to so many around the world by giving voice to our most beloved, iconic character, Mickey Mouse."
A Southern California native, Allwine joined Disney in 1966 when he took a job in the mail room. He went on to work in the sound effects department and began voicing the company's main mouse in 1977.
His falsetto can be heard in 1983's "Mickey's Christmas Carol," 1988's "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" and at Disney theme parks around the world. He won an Emmy Award in 1986 for his sound editing on the NBC series "Amazing Stories."
Allwine was the third man behind Mickey's voice. The first was Disney himself, then Jimmy MacDonald, who became Allwine's mentor and passed him the reins after voicing the mouse for 30 years.
"He said, 'Just remember kid, you're only filling in for the boss,'" Allwine once recalled. "And that's the way he treated doing Mickey for years and years."
"Mickey's the real star," Allwine continued. "You know you just have to love the little guy while you have him, because he won't be yours forever."
Roy E. Disney, director emeritus for The Walt Disney Co., said Allwine did more than give Mickey a voice. He "gave him a heart and soul as well."
"He did an incredible job of bringing emotion, humor and appeal to the character, and superbly carried on the tradition originated by my Uncle Walt, and later by sound-effects wizard Jimmy Macdonald."
Besides Taylor, Allwine is survived by five children from a previous marriage: Erin, Alison, Peter, Christopher and Joshua.