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Corey Burton finds just the right Hook for Disney's "Jake and the Never Land Pirates"

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Corey Burton finds just the right Hook for Disney's "Jake and the Never Land Pirates"

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Did you hear the one about how Hans Conried gave Corey Burton the hook?

Hans Conried in the Captain Hook costume he wore
while shooting the live-action reference footage for
Disney's animated version of "Peter Pan."
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

To hear Corey tell this story, this happened sometime in the Fall of 1974. Back when Burton was just getting started with his voice work career. And Corey was thrilled beyond words that he was getting the chance to sit in on a broadcast of the Salvation Army's Heartbeat Theater. Which was the last live, regularly scheduled radio drama to be produced in Hollywood.

Now one of the main reasons that this show's director - Don Hill - had invited Burton to drop by the studio for the recording of this particular episode of Heartbeat Theater was because Hans Conried was voicing the lead character on that week's broadcast. And knowing what a huge fan Corey was of Hans' voice work ... Well, Don thought that it might be fun to get these two in the same room at the same time.

"So Don introduces me to Hans. And then - in a teasing sort of way - Hill says 'You know, the kid does a pretty good impersonation of you,' "Burton recalled. "And then Conried looks me up & down and says: 'The kid does my voice, eh? Well, he can have it. A fat lot of good it's done me in over 40 years of show business."

Corey Burton doing voice work for "Atlantis: The Lost Empire"
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

And in that moment ... In a weird sort of way, a baton got passed. In that Corey eventually became the go-to guy if you needed a Hans Conried sound-alike when Hans wasn't himself available.

"That's actually how I got my first job at Disney," Burton explained. "The educational department at the Studio was producing this film strip that Conried was supposed to narrate. But Hans was out of town at that time . So I filled in for him. And I must have done an okay job. Given that it was through that recording session that I met Les Perkins. And Les then introduced me to the people who were producing Disney's Storyteller Albums. And since then, I've been doing voices for Disney for over three decades now."

It's really startling how ubiquitous Burton is around The Walt Disney Company these days. Take - for example - that pre-recorded spiel which you hear while riding the tram at the Disneyland Resort. The voice that tells you to " ... remain seated with your hands, arms, feet and legs inside while the tram is moving ... and supervise children" ? That's Corey.

Copyright Disney Channel. All rights reserved

Likewise, whenever Dale of Chip 'n Dale or Professor Ludwig Von Drake make an appearance on "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse," it's Burton who's now doing the voice work for these much beloved cartoon characters. Likewise the Ghost Host for Haunted Mansion Holiday. Plus all of the sound-alikes and brand-new Disney characters that Corey portrayed on 50+ Storyteller records.

But these days, the Disney voice that's keeping Burton busiest is the elegant Captain Hook. Ever since Hans passed away in January of 1982, Corey's been doing this Disney Villain's voice.

"That's me you hear as Hook in 'Fantasmic!.' Likewise in that 'Back to Neverland' movie that they used to show at Disney-MGM Studios. I also voiced this character for the 'Kingdom Hearts" games as well as the 'Return to Never Land' movie," Corey continued. "But each time that I do Hook, I try and follow the template that Conried originally laid down for this character. So that there's then some real consistency to the way this 'Peter Pan' character sounds and is portrayed in every new project at Disney."

Copyright Disney Channel. All rights reserved

Which was something of a challenge when it came to "Jake and the Never Land Pirates." You see, given that this new Disney Junior show is aimed at a preschool audience ... Well, it just wouldn't do if the sometimes truly scary version of Captain Hook who appears in Walt Disney's 1953 version of "Peter Pan" were to suddenly pop up on this brand-new animated series.

So what does a voice actor like Corey Burton (who's all about consistency. Especially when it come to honoring each voice actor who originated a role by making every effort to replicate the sound - more importantly, the performance style -- of the original performer) do in a situation like this? Burton's answer came in some of the TV work that Hans Conried had done back in the 1950s.

"To be honest, I just imagined what Hans would have done if he'd been asked to portray Captain Hook on the old Jack Benny or Burns & Allen show. Conried - being the pro that he was - would have modulated his performance so that Hook would have then worked within the confines of that particular program," Corey said. "Hook's always been a comic villain. So - for 'Jake and the Never Land Pirates' - I just played up the comedy and dialed down the villainy."

Copyright Disney Channel. All rights reserved

Mind you, what really helps here is Burton is now working with one of the best voice actors in the business. And that's Jeff Bennett, who plays Mr. Smee to Corey's Captain Hook.

"Jeff and I have had so much fun recording 'Jake and the Never Land Pirates.' You see, on this show, we play Hook and Smee like they're an old vaudeville comedy team," Burton laughed. "Which is kind of appropriate. When you consider that Hans Conried actually got his start in vaudeville. As did Bill Thompson, the radio comic who originally voiced Mr. Smee for Disney's animated feature."

If you'd like to hear Burton & Bennett (which - you'll have to admit - does sound like a really great name for an old comedy team) in action ... Well, there's a brand-new episode of "Jake and the Never Land Pirates" airing on Disney Junior on April 11th at 8:30 a.m. / 7:30 a.m. C.

Copyright Disney Channel. All rights reserved

And I'm sure - once you hear the silly-rather-than-sinister spin that Corey Burton has put on this classic Disney villain ... Well, you certainly won't feel the need to give "Jake and the Never Land Pirates" 's version of Captain Hook the hook.

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  • I have caught the show a few times and I really can't say that I am impressed.  It is not Disney's best work and my kids seem to feel the same.

    My suggestion is for them to come up with original shows and not rip off movies.

  • Corey is an amazing voice talent.  Along with the roles noted above (the Ghost Host narrator throughout Haunted Mansion Holiday being best known to Disneyland fans) Corey has been voicing Ludwig Von Drake for many many years he also re-dubbed much of the Deems taylor voice for Fantasia Roadshow version and dozens and dozens of other roles - Disney and NON-Disney as well.  He's a huge fan of Paul Frees and like Paul, is a vocal chameleon and is also the Announcer in Tough to be a Bug, the film reel narrator in the Indiana Jones pre-show, the pirate in the barrel looking for Jack Sparrow, the announcer for the Lincoln show and many others.  If you're at Disneyland chances are you'll here Corey many times throughout the day - with a different voice each time.  Check out his list of credits at coreyburton.com

  • I love the show, my kids wont stop telling me to turn on "Jake". The good thing about the show is It's enjoyable for me too and I get a kick out of Hook and Smee.

  • Corey Burton can transform.

  • I just searched for "who does the voice of captain hook on jake and the neverland pirates" and found this site. I am very impressed and find his version of Hook's voice on this show VERY humorous. Mostly how goofy/dramatic he is! Funny, good stuff!

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