Who is Jim Dale?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Jim Dale is known as “the voice of Harry Potter,” and also has received considerable notice as the narrator of the very popular ABC network television series Pushing Daisies, which premiered in the fall of 2007. Born James Smith in 1935 in England, Jim Dale is both an actor and a singer/songwriter with an impressive list of credits in these fields. He wrote the lyrics for the 1966 Georgy Girl, and a number of other singles which performed well in the UK.

Actor Laurence Olivier requested that Jim Dale join London's National Theater, a prestigious theater group.
Actor Laurence Olivier requested that Jim Dale join London's National Theater, a prestigious theater group.

Some of Dale’s most recognizable film work, particularly to British audiences, is his work in the Carry On films, a group of comedy films that were often send-ups of British institutions. Jim Dale was often cast as romantic lead in these movies, and starred in a total of eleven of these films. More recognizable to American audiences may be Dale’s work in the 1977 Disney film Pete’s Dragon, where he plays the role of Doc Terminus.

In the theater, and as a member of some of the most prestigious theater groups, like London’s National Theater, which he joined at the request of Laurence Olivier, Jim Dale has starred in numerous adaptations of Shakespeare plays. He’s also received five Tony nominations, and one Tony award for his Broadway work. In 1980 he won a coveted Tony for Best Leading Actor in a Musical for his performance in Barnum.

In 2006, Dale starred in a one-night performance of the Sherman Brothers musical, Busker Alley. The performance was so enjoyed that a Broadway production with the actor is planned. 2008 also saw Dale honored with a Grammy nomination for his reading of the last Harry Potter book. He’d previously received Grammy nominations for several other of the books, and currently holds a Guinness World Record for most created characters — 134 different voices — in a single audio recording.

It should be noted that Stephen Fry and not Jim Dale has recorded the audio books of Harry Potter for British fans. Fans differ as to which reading they most prefer, but many acknowledge the extraordinary dramatic range exhibited by Jim Dale, especially in his spirited readings of so many of the beloved Harry Potter characters. Dale also narrates some versions of the Harry Potter video games, and uses his voice talents on the DVD releases of the films to narrate some of the special features or “extras” each DVD contains.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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