Random Factoid #325

18 06 2010

Rejoice!  “Toy Story 3” opens today!

However, it will be without one familiar face.  Wheezy, the lovable penguin that Woody risks his life to rescue, does not appear in the latest installment of the beloved series.  His absence is quickly explained, but it’s easy to let out a sad “aww” when the news is broken.

Why is there no Wheezy?  Unfortunately, there’s some tragedy behind that.

Joe Ranft, the Pixar animator who lent his voice to the character, passed away in a car accident in 2005.  He was 45 years old with a wife and two children.  Ranft was the head of story at Pixar beginning in 1991, helping to craft every story from “Toy Story,” for which he received an Oscar nomination, to “Cars.”  He also lent his voice to many Pixar characters, most memorably Wheezy, Heimlich the caterpillar in “A Bug’s Life,” Jacques the Shrimp in “Finding Nemo,” and Red the shy firetruck in “Cars.”

The movie “Cars,” which he co-directed, was dedicated to his memory.  And I’d like to dedicate today’s random factoid to Ranft, who stole our hearts with Wheezy 11 years ago.

As part of my tribute, enjoy Wheezy’s song from the end of “Toy Story 2” (although it’s sung by Robert Goulet – also RIP – and not Ranft).