Whence Baloo?

I saw the Jungle Book II today. John Goodman voices Baloo and does a passable Phil Harris imitation. Phil Harris was born and raised in Indiana but always made a career like he was a Southerner (His signature song was “That’s What I Like About the South.” IMDB)

Anyway : As Harris voices Baloo – where is Baloo “coming from”?

Is he supposed to be an Eisenhower jazz hipster? A southerner who loves speakeasy bluesy stuff … Is he supposed to be a Jackie Gleason-like/ratpacker 60’s era Vegas guy with an accent? How about a 40’s big band swinger (which Harris was too) …

I’m not sure what he is supposed to be but it is driving me crazy.

I may be wrong about this, but I always thought he was supposed to be a bear.

Grin, Duck, Run. :smiley:

In the extra material in the 30th anniversary addition, Harris states that he pretty much played Baloo as himself. He was kind of skeptical about doing a cartoon voice, and said he’d do it if they let him do it his way. Basically how he imagined himself as a bear, I guess.

Incidentally, that movie was (according to the interviews) the first to use recognizable entertainers as cartoon voices. People who were known for other things, that is. Jazz man Louis Prima, actors Sebastian Cabot, Sterling Holloway, and George Sanders were some other well-known-at-the-time voices. Before the Jungle Book, animated movies had mostly used otherwise-unknown voice actors.


I don’t think that’s right, Ferrous – “Lady and the Tramp,” 1955, had Peggy Lee doing Peg and the Siamese cats – “Jungle Book” was 1967.

I think Ferrous has a point here.

Jungle Book is the first of the Evil Empire’s films to use a recognizable actor to provide the voice and appearance for major characters. Bagheera looks just like Mr. French, only thinner, and Shere Khan has Mr. Freeze’s profile.

Peggy Lee’s bitch was just a simple gag for one song, no more significant than Ed Wynne’s portrayal of the Mad Hatter or Jerry Colonna as a very recognizable March Hare. The key term here being “major character” of course…