Voice of Piglet
Tuesday 05 July 2005
The high-pitched tones of John Fiedler, an actor notable for his short, balding physique and tendency to play meek characters, proved at their most memorable in two different screen guises. Although his own face was not seen, he was the unmistakable voice behind Piglet in all of Disney's Winnie-the-Pooh stories, on film, television and video. They began with the Oscar-winning short film Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968), in which Pooh and Piglet are blown through the Hundred Acre Wood by a strong wind that sets them off on an adventure and a dream about Heffalumps and Woozles. Fiedler felt the role of Piglet, Pooh's best friend and a kind-hearted worrier, fitted him like a glove, saying: "There are elements of Piglet that are me: the shyness and the anxieties and fears."
In front of the camera, the actor made an impression as the henpecked therapy patient Emil Peterson in the American sitcom The Bob Newhart Show (1972-78) - regularly seen in group sessions with the psychologist Bob Hartley (Newhart).
Born in 1925, the son of an Irish-German beer salesman, Fiedler served with the US Navy during the Second World War, and trained as an actor at the Neighborhood Playhouse, New York. Theatre experience was followed by regular roles as Cadet Alfie Higgins in Tom Corbett, Space Cadet (1951-54) on television and Homer in the radio serial The Aldrich Family (1952-53). He made his film début as one of the jurors in 12 Angry Men (1956), alongside Henry Fonda. His later films included That Touch of Mink (1962), opposite Cary Grant, and True Grit (1969), starring John Wayne. Among many television appearances, he will be remembered by Star Trek fans as the snivelling bureaucrat Mr Hengist in a 1967 episode, "Wolf in the Fold".
A prolific character actor, Fiedler once said: "With my voice and my looks, I got the milquetoast, nerd parts." But his distinctive voice meant that he was heard in Disney productions for almost 40 years, including more than a dozen Pooh stories and the 83-part television series The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1988-91).
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