HomeAmerican EntertainmentWill Ryan, Longtime Disney Voice Actor, Dead at 72

Will Ryan, Longtime Disney Voice Actor, Dead at 72

by Joe Rutland
(Photo by Liliane Lathan/Getty Images)

Will Ryan, whose voice-over work at Disney included The Land Before Time and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, has died.

He was 72. The Hollywood Reporter had news of Ryan’s death. He died after a brief battle with cancer on Friday.

Nery Lemus, Ryan’s talent agent, confirmed his death.

“The world is a little less bright tonight with the passing of Will Ryan,” Lemus writes in a statement. “As much as he was known to many of you as a Disney icon, voice-over legend, gun twirling cowboy, musician/songwriter, a brilliant comedic actor, along with a list of credits that don’t even touch the essence of what he accomplished… he was my friend.”

Ryan is survived by his wife, Nancy Niparko Ryan, and siblings Patty Ryan, Marsha Ryan Russo, and George Ryan.

Disney Voice-Over Actor Worked On Numerous 1980s Animated Shows

Ryan started providing voices for animated shorts like Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore and the Oscar-nominated animated film Mickey’s Christmas Carol. He also had voice-over work in G.I. Joe: The Revenge of Cobra, G.I. Joe, and Dumbo’s Circus.

His work, though, led Ryan to other projects outside Disney. In 1988, he voiced Petrie in Universal’s animated adventure film, The Land Before Time. Ryan did voice-over work on other 1980s animated shows like Teen WolfDuckTales, The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin, and The Smurfs. He was the voice of Willie the Giant in Disney works like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and House of Mouse.

Ryan provided his voice to Adventures in Odyssey, a weekly radio series in which he performed over 100 characters; and to Family Guy.

Ryan Earned Two Gold Records, Wrote Songs For Jim Henson Company

He was a longtime member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Ryan served as a past president of ASIFA, an international animation organization.

As a musician, Will Ryan and the Cactus County Cowboys released five records. He often performed with the Saguaro Sisters at The Autry Museum of Western Heritage. Ryan also was a songwriter for The Jim Henson Company, many recorded by familiar Disney characters.

He has two Gold Records from the Recording Industry Association of America.

“For those who didn’t know him, he was a beautiful person,” Lemus said. “He was selfless. His humility was endless. He spent his entire life helping others and the loss his friends and family feel tonight would be a tragic understatement. He was a beautiful soul and I was honored to just know him, let alone represent him. I can’t find all the words that would express what he meant to our company CelebWorx, and the rest of the world he touched with his talent.”

Ryan’s work at Disney will remain a testament to his talent.