Although he appears to have spent most of his life elsewhere, the late, great voice actor and character actor Junius Matthews was born in Chicago in 1890. He acted in various television and film roles, including on episodes of Dragnet and Have Gun–Will Travel, but he’s best known for voicing Rabbit in the original Disney Winnie The Pooh shorts and feature-length film. My favorite Junius Matthews performance has to be Archimedes the owl from The Sword in the Stone.
This clip illustrates his genius as a voice actor. In it, Archimedes laughs hysterically, much to Merlin’s chagrin. I’ve never heard an owl break out laughing, but Matthews clearly spent a lot of time thinking about what such a thing would sound like. At the same time, he didn’t let the fact that this character is an owl limit him–the laughing moves beyond, “Hoo hoo hoo!” into a broader range of cachinnation that still retains a certain avian quality.