Will Ryan
William Ryan

(1949-05-21)May 21, 1949
DiedNovember 19, 2021(2021-11-19) (aged 72)
  • Voice actor
  • musician
  • singer
Years active1966–2021
Musical career

William Ryan (May 21, 1949 – November 19, 2021)[1] was an American voice actor, musician and singer.[2][3] He provided the voice of Petrie in the 1988 animated film The Land Before Time. He was also known for his voice work as Eugene Meltsner in the Christian radio drama Adventures in Odyssey and Grubby in The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin. Ryan was also the creator of Elmo Aardvark, a character that served as a pastiche of early animated cartoon stars, in 1993.

Life and career

Ryan was born on May 21, 1949, and grew up in Cleveland, Ohio.[1][2] He became established by singing about the American West. In summer 1966, Ryan's earlier band, Wead, played a gig in Wellington, Ohio.

In late 1970s, he teamed up with Phil Baron as Willio and Phillio.[4] They had regular gigs on television, radio and comedy clubs and universities throughout the U.S.. They later paired up again voicing characters of best friends Teddy Ruxpin (Baron) and Grubby the Octopede (Ryan) in the Teddy Ruxpin book and tape series as well as the 1986–87 television show The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin. In August 2002, Willio and Phillio returned to Cleveland for two performances at historic Cain Park and another at the famed Beachland Ballroom. At the Cain Park show, friend Alec Nordstrom of Hudson was invited onstage. Cleveland's revered rock critic and "world's oldest teenager," Jane Scott, attended and reviewed the Beachland performance for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The Willio and Phillio act brought Ryan back into music and after moving to California, he began to write and record songs for The Walt Disney Company.

Willio and Phillio performed "I Wish it Could Be Christmas All Year Long" on a Disney Christmas album in a voice similar to Micky Dolenz of The Monkees.

He provided the voices of Rabbit and Tigger, and the singing voice of Eeyore, in the Disney Channel's long-running series Welcome to Pooh Corner and in many other Pooh cartoons. He also provided the voice of Barnaby the Dog on the popular series Dumbo's Circus.

In 1987, Ryan became a fixture of the radio drama Adventures in Odyssey, as Eugene Meltsner, Harlow Doyle, David Harley, Patrick O'Ryan and over 100 individual characters. He voiced Rabbit in Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore, Digit in An American Tail, Petrie in The Land Before Time, and Willie the Giant in Mickey's Christmas Carol. He continued to do voice work. In 2009, he was working on the third season of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, the 21st season of Adventures in Odyssey, and the new radio series of Will Ryan's Cactus County Round-Up which featured his band The Cactus County Cowboys. In the Family Guy episode "Road to the North Pole", he provided the voice for Winnie-the-Pooh. As a side project, with Andrew J. Lederer and Michael Rosenberg (Jackie Diamond), Will Ryan briefly performed in the '20s-style music and comedy trio The Merry Metronomes. He and Lederer also appeared from time to time as a duo, usually under the name The Natty Nabobs. He and Nick Santa Maria also performed occasionally as a vaudeville-era comedy team, Biffle & Shooster (Ryan played the latter); and in 2013 they made their first film, a faux 1930s comedy short titled It's a Frame-Up!.

Beginning on January 28, 2021, until his death Will was the co-host of the "Tell Ya Later" show on YouTube with longtime friend and co-star Katie Leigh. The final episode featuring Ryan during his lifetime premiered on November 15, 2021, 4 days before his death. There is still unreleased footage recorded before he died that will air posthumously.[5][6]


Ryan died from pancreatic cancer on November 19, 2021, at the age of 72. [7][8][9]

Selected filmography






  1. ^ a b Grobar, Matt (November 20, 2021). "Will Ryan Dead". deadline.com. Retrieved November 20, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Hischak, Thomas S. (2011-09-15). Disney Voice Actors: A Biographical Dictionary. McFarland. ISBN 9780786486946.
  3. ^ "Will Ryan". FilmHub. Archived from the original on 30 October 2016. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  4. ^ Cleveland Jewish News[dead link]
  5. ^ "The Bermuda Triangle of Thought! - Tell Ya Later". youtube.com. January 28, 2021. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  6. ^ "Meet the Interns! Tell Ya Later - Episode 44 with WIll Ryan & Katie Leigh". YouTube. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  7. ^ @MylaReson (November 20, 2021). "My dear friend Will Ryan succumbed to pancreatic cancer yesterday" (Tweet). Retrieved March 16, 2023 – via Twitter.
  8. ^ "Farewell to our friend Will Ryan". adventuresinodyssey.com. November 19, 2021. Retrieved November 20, 2021.
  9. ^ Beresford, Trilby (November 20, 2021). "Will Ryan Dead". hollywoodreporter.com. Retrieved November 22, 2021.