parents were both in show business. Her mother, Evelyn, had
worked as a professional dancer.
Kathryn's father Kenneth Beaumont
singer and musician who appeared with a
number of bands. Kathryn relocated from London to Bangor,
North Wales after the blitz began in 1940. In 1943,
Kathryn appeared (uncredited) in an Associated
British production, "It Happened One Sunday."
Kathryn in "It Happened One Sunday."
FILMS: STILLS, POSTERS AND DESIGNS
Upon her return to London in 1945, Kathryn was
spotted by an movie scout and came to the U.S. under contract to
next film was MGM's enjoyable1948 Esther Williams vehicle "On an Island
With You," (which was
briefly available on VHS but is currently out of print.) She appears only
briefly... but sparkles in her role.
As Penelope Peabody
"On An Island With You"
Kathryn appeared very
briefly in an uncredited, non-speaking role as Muriel in
MGM's "The Secret Garden," which starred
the studio's reigning child star, Margaret O'Brien.
The film was released in April of 1949. The
film marked a turning point in Margaret O'Brien's career; it
would be her last film for the studio.
brief appearance in MGM's
"The Secret Garden"
On Halloween that same year,
MGM released "Challenge To Lassie," which cast the famous collie
"against type," considering that the film is the story of the
famous Skye Terrier "Greyfriar's Bobby." (Disney would do a
version of the story in 1961, using a different dog but the same
actor, Donald Crisp.) Kathryn
again appeared unbilled, but did manage to
on one of the film's lobby cards.
Over at the Walt Disney
Studio, it was time to cast the leads and record the soundtrack
for "Alice In Wonderland."
According to Kathryn, Disney was
looking for an Alice "that would be English enough
to satisfy British audiences and preserve the feeling of an
English literary classic, but not so
English that it would put off American audiences."
Disney was obviously delighted by Kathryn's melodic voice, but
How Kathryn Beaumont landed the role of
Alice is actually more complicated.
Kathryn signs a
Disney contract while the boss looks on.
was just eleven when she was
recording the voice of Alice. Kathryn also
Alice on film... but only for the benefit of the Disney
animators, as a live-action reference for their work.
Kathryn's mom and a tutor
were present each day on the set; Kathryn worked four hours, studied for
three, then went home.
Magazine ran a feature with two photos of Kathryn "in action" as
Alice, performing for the animators' reference film. According to Life,
the "Live Alice Had It Rough." Life reported, "To help make the movements of their characters look smooth and
natural, Disney animators are shown films of live people going through the same motions.
For Kathryn Beaumont, the 12-year-old
English girl who was the model for Alice (and also
provided her voice) the motions were many and complex and sometimes dizzying. Studio
technicians fixed up an ingenious collection of
contrivances to spin and whirl and drop
her down imaginary rabbit holes, so that the artists could put in the requisite life and
sparkle to make 'Alice' a
1951 Alice In Wonderland
After "Alice In Wonderland" was finished, Kathryn
embarked on an extensive promotional tour for the 1951 release.
This included appearing on-camera with Walt Disney in his first television
special, "One Hour In Wonderland," telecast Christmas 1950. Two
weeks after she returned from the tour, Walt had a new role for
her... Wendy Darling in the Studio's next animated feature, "Peter
Pan." She returned for a second Disney TV on-camera appearance,
this time as Wendy, in "The Walt Disney Christmas Show" (1951).
"Peter Pan," as in "Alice," Kathryn served not only as the voice for the character, but also
as the physical model. To learn what children would look like in the flying
sequences, animators hoisted Kathryn and her young co-stars -- Tommy Luske as Michael and
Paul Collins as John -- up in the air on cables and whirled them around. "Most kids would say, 'What fun,' but I was a little nervous,"
recalls Kathryn. "I was hooked up with a harness and was thinking the stage looked so
far down there." Another
reason for nervousness just might have been the stunts required in
modeling the role of "Alice" for the animators.
How Peter Pan Was
Photo Essay from Child Life Magazine
After the 1953 release of Peter Pan, Kathryn
headed off for public high school, where she
pursued drill team rather than drama and ran for a position in student
government. Kathryn was subsequently accepted at the University of
Southern California, where she earned a degree and teaching
continued to work for Disney each summer
during college. On the completion of her studies... and for the
next thirty years... Kathryn devoted her time and energy
to being a school teacher in a local elementary school, a move
she has never regretted. "I just went into
another career," she reports. "I was just very young when I did these
roles, so I went back to school and I had other ideas of things I wanted
a sense, the roles that I did were somewhat anonymous because I
lent my voice, not my physical being," Kathryn explains. "When I
went on to school, it became a past experience. Teaching gave me
satisfaction, and I stayed." Occasionally, a sharp-eared student
would wonder why the teacher's voice sounded so familiar, but not
too often, since home video was a decade or two off... and
prior to home video availability, the Disney features were
re-released to theatres only every seven years, on average.
Kathryn lost contact with Disney, even though she lived just a
stone's throw from the studio. In 1983, Disney promotion
executive Howard Green reestablished contact.
Kathryn returned to Disney to
promote the '83 re-release of Peter Pan, and
also resumed her voice-over career, recording as Alice
and Wendy for theme park attractions,
videogames, and television programs. When a new "Alice" Fantasyland Attraction
was created for Disneyland,
Kathryn created a new track to replacing the original show audio she had
recorded in 1958. In 1992, she returned as Wendy: it is Kathryn who calls out to
Peter Pan during the pirate sequence of "Fantasmic!" at Disneyland. (You
won't hear Kathryn at the Walt Disney World version of the
October 16, 1998, at the Disney Legends Ceremony, two Disney
"Alices" joined the group: Virginia Davis, considered to be the first
'Disney Star,' hired by 21-year-old Walt Disney in Kansas City for
his silent "Alice Comedies" ...and Kathryn Beaumont-Levine, whose
voice and personality are essential parts of the Disney landscape.
Return to top of page
Newspaper articles from the time of
Voice Real Teen-Ager
By Patricia Evers
"Teen-agers here and in England are just the same,"
Kathy Beaumont, the voice of Alice in you-know-whom in Wonderland has decided.
"Course, some teens are more generous than others, and some
are more friendly, but these are individual differences one can find in any
country," she continued.
Thirteen-year-old Kathy is well qualified to speak. Her years
have been neatly divided between the U.S. and England; the first seven were
spent in London, next six in California and Canada, whither she fled to escape
All this came out in an interview yesterday on the Queen Mary as
the liner docked after bringing her (and a couple of hundred other people) back
from a month's vacation in England.
Dressed in an Alice In Wonderland costume she looks just like
the Alice in the book illustrations. Same long blonde hair (though hers is
curled) same blue eyes. Only difference is her freckles. She has hundreds of
them but she doesn't mind 'em, she says.
Kathy's a very self-possessed half-pint, with a gracious,
friendly manner and a voice that's easy on the ears. Hasn't got an English
accent exactly, it's more a precision of pronunciation.
how I got the part of Alice," Kathy confided. "Mother and I came to
New York for a vacation. Everywhere we went people kept mentioning my voice.
Finally some friends of father's arranged a screen test for the part of Alice.
Mr. Disney liked my voice, and I got the part."
She hadn't done any professional acting before this, although
she comes from a theatrical family. "And Kathy did get very good marks in
dramatic acting in school," Mrs. Beaumont told us.
Likes Movie Making
Kathy enjoys making movies. "Even though I don't appear in
Alice," she said earnestly, "they made movies of me going through all
the actions Alice goes through, for the artists' inspiration."
The sound track was all recorded before the picture was made.
"It was just like doing a radio broadcast," she said.
Her next movie is going to be made much the same way, she
believes. She'll be Wendy in "Peter Pan," so Kathy's off for Los Angeles,
where she will be in the ninth grade in a movie studio school.
"Arithmetic," she answers unhesitatingly.
Favorite foods are strawberries, raspberries and leg of lamb.
The last named is one of the things she missed in England. Not much meat in
evidence over there.
Terribly excited about getting back to this country, Kathy had
three big thrills aboard ship - One was posing with elder statesman Bernard
Baruch for the news photographers, another was receiving an album of the RCA
records she and the original cast made of Alice. She hadn't heard them before,
as they were taped just before she took off to vacation in England. The third
big thrill was celebrating her 13th birthday half way across the ocean.
Next few days are reserved for New York sightseeing -- being
Alice in Wonderland for real, she declares.
Today's a Big Day
For Kathy, Just 13
by Eileen Creelman
This was an important day. Kathy Beaumont was celebrating her
13th birthday. Thirteen is a great age to someone who only the
day before had been only 12.
The celebration was Kathy's first lunch at Twenty-One with her
own choice of dessert, raspberries and strawberries mixed and served with cream.
Kathy is English. Fresh fruit, even after three years in California, is still a
ABOVE RIGHT: With a bashful Mortimer Snerd;
"One Hour In Wonderland."
BELOW RIGHT: Another moment from Disney's first TV show.
tall, straight little girl, quaint and charming rather than conventionally
pretty, is a very busy actress who will not be seen at all in her next two
pictures. Kathy will be heard as the voice of Alice in Walt Disney's version of
"Alice in Wonderland," and as Wendy in the Disney "Peter Pan." She served as
model, too, for the animators of both cartoons.
She and her fellow actors, Ed Wynn as the Mad Hatter, Richard
Haydn as the caterpillar, Sterling Holloway as the Cheshire Cat, Jerry Colonna
as the March Hare, donned costumes and enacted their entire roles before cameras
Use Film as Model
"We had only very sketchy sets," young Miss Beaumont
went on, "just sketched-in backgrounds really. This picture is to give the
animators ideas for their picture. They watch the film and then use us as
This first movie had four directors, one for the action, one for
the dialogue, one for the music and one for the acrobatics.
"Oh, yes, we had lots of acrobatics," Kathy declared.
"I had to fall down that hole after the White Rabbit, and they had a most
complicated invention for that. Then they had to have me slide into a bottle.
Yes, we needed a director for acrobatics."
will, when she returns from a visit to England with her mother, have to learn to
fly for "Peter Pan." Disney technicians have what Kathy calls a sort
of cradle all arranged to assist her with that stunt." Peter Pan is now
two-thirds completed, the first picture at least, with Bobby Driscoll in the
ABOVE LEFT: Kathy is rigged to float down the
rabbit hole in "Alice In Wonderland."
ABOVE RIGHT: With future "Peter Pan" Co-star Bobby Driscoll; "One Hour
Kathy Beaumont, aged 13, says people have been telling her all
her life that she should play Alice. Her mother agrees. Early in the war, when
Mr. Beaumont was in France and Kathy an infant in arms, Mrs. Beaumont refused to
ship her small daughter off to "safety" on the Athenia. When that
ship, crowded with tiny refugees from bombing raids, went down, authorities
ceased to scold Mrs. Beaumont for disobeying regulations. But when her best
friend, visiting them in their shelter, was blown to death -- "she was
blown out and we were blown in" -- Mrs. Beaumont decided to leave her small
town on the Channel for New South Wales.
ABOVE RIGHT: Kathryn and Walt put their
best feet forward.
Acted in School
"I put Kathy in school there when she was still very
small," Mrs. Beaumont explained. "She appeared in a school pantomime,
then in a little play. The teacher came to me and said what I already knew, that
children must be allowed to follow their own bent. She was sure Kathy had a bent
for acting. Soon everyone was telling me that. People kept speaking of Alice.
Even the head of the university next door said that he'd heard a Walt Disney in
America was looking for a little girl to play Alice, and here she was in Wales
all the time."
ABOVE LEFT: Kathryn with Norma Swank, an
animation checker, as she colors a cel of Wendy. Click
to see other photos of Kathryn's Studio tour. (Most images on this page can be clicked for
a larger view)
Kathy was discovered professionally at the age of 5 by some
London producers on holiday. She made one English film, then signed an MGM
contract. The studio paid her salary for five years while trying to get the
youngster to this country. Once here, Kathy made only one Metro picture
transferred to Disney on a long-term contract.
The Beaumonts hope to be here for the Aug. 1 premiere of
"Alice In Wonderland" at the Criterion. They will attend the London
Opening on July 25, anyway.
"I don't whether Alice looks like me or not," Kathy
said seriously. "She just looks like Alice."
ABOVE LEFT: Kathryn is in great demand at
Disney fan conventions; she autographs this Little Golden Book with a
Great fun, or slow news day?
In any case, pictures don't lie...
Disney's Exclusive Archives
Collection Alice Laser Disc Box
Alice In Wonderland (6139 CS) contained an
astonishing amount of supplemental materials of great interest: the
complete "One Hour In Wonderland" TV special from Dec. 25, 1950,
which features Kathryn as "hostess;" a 1951 promotional film,
"Operation Wonderland," presented as originally broadcast on
"Ford Star Review" on June 14th, 1951; a lengthy excerpt
from "The Fred Waring Show" of March 18, 1951, which is both a charming
example of early live television and a chance to see Kathryn perform the
"Alice" songs live. There's also a one-hour BBC radio
dramatization based on the film; snippets from the animators' live-action
reference film; and an audio recording of "Brahms' Lullaby" from
August 26, 1947 which is labeled "Kathryn Beaumont Test." Also
included are song demos, among them "Beyond The Laughing Sky,"
which was written for Alice but which appeared - with new lyrics - as
"The Second Star To The Right" in "Peter Pan."
Masterpiece Edition DVD (Released Jan.
The DVD contains
substantially less additional material
than the laser disc offers.
An excellent, complete rundown of the DVD is available on the
This site is unofficial, prepared without the
participation of The Walt Disney Company or Kathryn
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"The Courage of Lassie," and "The Secret Garden,"
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