“If you do not know where you are going, any road will take you there.”
Sterling Price Holloway, Jr. was born on this day in Cedartown, Georgia, USA in 1905. Today is the 107th anniversary of his birth.
The Holloways owned a grocery story in Cedartown and were prominent citizens the town. His father was mayor for a while when Sterling was in elementary school. He went to the Georgia Military Academy and got his first taste of acting while performing in school plays there. Upon graduating from the GMA at 15 he went to New York and enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He worked with the Shepherd of the Hills touring stock company.
On stage he worked in musicals, vaudeville shows and reviews. He gained national attention in 1925 when he introduced the song Manhattan (as in “We’ll have Manhattan, The Bronx and Staten Island too…”) by Rodgers and Hart. The following year he had another hit with “Mountain Greenery” also by the song writing duo.
Primed for success he moved to Hollywood to try his hands at the movies. He started in silent films with The Battling Kangaroo. He made several silents, but when a director told him he was “too repulsive” for the screen he went back to the stage for a few years. He returned after the stock market crash. The studios were switching to talkies, and the money was good.
His bushy reddish-blond hair and trademark near-falsetto voice made him a natural for sound pictures, and he acted in scores of talkies, although he had made his picture debut in silents. His physical image and voice relegated him almost exclusively to comic roles, [IMDB]
To say he was prolific would be an understatement. Holloway made 19 movies in 1933 alone. He preferred to play in ensemble movies. When Louis B. Mayer offered him a contract at MGM he turned it down because he didn’t want to be a star.
In the 1930s and 40s, the lanky redhead who had a knack for playing country bumpkin roles appeared in such films as “Gold Diggers of 1933,” with Dick Powell, and “Blonde Venus,” with Marlene Dietrich.[Disney.go.com]
Soon his unusual voice came to the attention of Walt Disney and in 1941 Holloway made his first movie for the Walt Disney company voicing the part of Mr. Stork in Dumbo.
His first Disney performance led to subsequent voice roles including, the adult Flower in “Bambi” and the Cheshire Cat in “Alice in Wonderland.” Sterling also played Kaa, the snake, in “The Jungle Book,” in which he sang the memorable song “Trust in Me.” His most beloved role, however, was as the voice of Winnie the Pooh in such featurettes as the Academy Award-winning “Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day.“[Ibid]
He was also featured in The Three Caballeros, the Aristocats and he narrated Peter and the Wolf.
Later in his career he work in television, guest starring on a score of episodic and variety shows.
Holloway died at the age of 87 in Los Angeles.