William Phipps, the voice of Prince Charming in the animated Disney film Cinderella and a prolific actor who appeared in more than 200 film and television productions, has died. Phipps passed Friday at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica at age 96 from lung cancer complications, according to his friend, author Tom Weaver.
Phipps had an interesting career in film, debuting in the Oscar-nominated Crossfire, which was a Best Picture candidate that year. But he was best known for his many roles in 1950s science fiction films, where he was one of the genre’s main players.
Among his appearances were the films Five, The War of the Worlds, Invaders From Mars, Cat Women of the Moon, and The Snow Creature.
Phipps voice-over gig as Prince Charming was a direct hire by Walt Disney himself. It brought Phipps a whopping $100 for an afternoon’s work. He later made a live appearance as the Prince in a nationwide contest that offered a date with the voice of Prince Charming, appearing at the Pantages during a radio broadcast of the Art Linkletter show.
A native of Vincennes, Indiana, Phipps attended Eastern Illinois University, arriving in California in 1941. He served in the Navy during World War II and enrolled in the Actors Lab upon his 1945 return. He landed a role in its production of Men in White, which launched his career when he was “discovered” by actor Charles Laughton.
Among his other roles were in the RKO Westerns The Arizona Ranger and Desperadoes of Dodge City, both released in 1948; as a servant to Marlon Brando’s Antony in Julius Caesar; as the French Impressionist painter Emile Bernard in Kirk Douglas’ Lust for Life (1956); and as Quentin in Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993).
In television, he had a recurring role as Curly Bill Brocius on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp and also appeared onThe Twilight Zone (the 1960 episode “The Purple Testament”), Perry Mason, Rawhide, 77 Sunset Strip, Gunsmoke, F Troop, Batman, The Virginian and Mannix.
Phipps moved to Maui in the late 1960s, but came back to portray Theodore Roosevelt in the 1976 ABC miniseries Eleanor and Franklin, which won 11 Emmy Awards. He later performed the role in a commercial for Maxwell House coffee.
No details on survivors or any memorial service was immediately available.