Goofy’s Unforgettable Voice: Disney Legend Bill Farmer

disney legend bill farmer

March 30, 2024

Written by: Jim Smith

(A version of this article was shared with Laughing Place and published on April 4, 2024.)

Bill Farmer may not be a household name to many, but it’s almost impossible to find someone who doesn’t recognize his signature role as Disney’s top dog Goofy. In a business where performers can be quite different from the roles they play, Farmer is every bit the happy-go-lucky everyman as his most famous role.

For this edition of Disney Legends Spotlight, let’s go for a stroll with Disney Legend Bill Farmer (we’ll do our best not to trip along the way).

goofy and his voice bill farmer 1

Life in Kansas – Growing Up in America’s Heartland

Bill Farmer was born on November 14, 1952, in the wheat farming community of Pratt, Kansas. The second oldest child in the family, Farmer loved science fiction. On the weekends, he could reliably be found watching Saturday morning cartoons, followed by classic sci-fi double-features. Around the age of twelve, Farmer started doing impressions just for the fun of it, with Western film stars John Wayne and Walter Brennan being among his favorites to perform.

The local boy finished up high school before moving not-so-far away to attend the University of Kansas. While in college, Farmer was a member of Sigma Chi fraternity. With pranks being an accepted way of fraternity life, Farmer and his friends would sometimes go through fast food drive-thrus and order foods in any one of his many impressive character voices. Truth be told, the subjects of Farmer’s voice pranks couldn’t help but be impressed! While in school, Farmer found work in radio and television, where he started developing characters.

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A Man On the Move

Farmer capped off an entertaining college career in 1975 with a degree in journalism. After graduating, Farmer moved down south, and in 1982 he used his on-air experience to find work as a stand up comedian at the Comedy Corner in Dallas, Texas. Farmer, who credits the stand-up comedy scene as the best training ground for any budding comedian, filled his set primarily with impressions of classic and contemporary characters and personalities.

The house comic at the Comedy Corner was Bill Engvall, who would go on to legendary success on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, as well as in television and films. Under the guidance of Engvall, Farmer expanded his horizons, performing regularly at various comedy clubs around the Lone Star State. Farmer hired an agent to assist with his fledgling comedy career, and that agent suggested Farmer give his talents a go in Hollywood. 

Striking Disney Gold

So in 1986, Bill Farmer moved out to the California to try his hand in entertainment. Just a few months into his new life, Farmer’s agent asked him if he did Disney characters. As fate would have it, Farmer’s first character audition was for Goofy. Talk about hitting the jackpot right off the bat!

disney goofy 1
Image: Disney

In preparation for the audition, Disney gave Farmer some recordings performed by Pinto Colvig, the first and only official voice of Goofy to that point. Colvig voiced Goofy from the character’s first appearance as Dippy Dawg in 1932, until Colvig’s death in 1967. Since Colvig’s passing, Disney had gone twenty years without settling on a consistent voice for their top dog.

Farmer hit Goofy’s notes perfectly, and got his first gig as the character in Disney’s 1987 television special DTV “Doggone” Valentine. For the role, Farmer was tasked with replacing Colvig’s voice in an existing piece of animation with new dialogue to fit a new script. Farmer’s turn as the Goof was well received, and he quickly followed his first gig with a second role, on DTV Monster Hits. Farmer elevated Goofy to the silver screen in an uncredited in Disney’s 1988 Touchstone Pictures film Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

goofy and bill farmer
Image: Variety

The roles as Goofy began to come more regularly for Farmer. At the same time, he began performing roles as Disney’s other iconic mutt, Pluto. While Mickey’s pet doesn’t speak with specific dialogue, Farmer has noted that performing Pluto’s repertoire of woofs and growls is actually much more taxing on his vocal chords than Goofy.

Becoming the Official Voice of Goofy

Since 1987, Bill Farmer has taken Goofy to new heights. He performed the role as the lead in the 1995 film A Goofy Movie, earning himself an Annie Award nomination for Voice Acting by a Male Performer in an Animated Feature Production. The huge success of A Goofy Movie led to a 2000 sequel An Extremely Goofy Movie, where he was nominated for another Annie Award. Goofy then headlined his own small screen series Goof Troop.

a goofy movie goofy and max 1
Image: Disney

On the small screen, Farmer has voiced Goofy through several long-running Mickey Mouse cartoon series, including The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Minnie’s Bow-Toons, Mickey and the Roadster Racers, Mickey’s Mixed-Up Adventures, Mickey Mouse, The Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse, and Mickey Mouse Funhouse.

Aside from these television series, Farmer has given Goofy his voice in countless television specials, films, audio recordings, video games, and toys. There are too many credits to list here, but just take my word for it. Whenever Goofy appeared in Disney media since 1987, you’ve heard Bill Farmer’s voice.

In the Disney Parks, Farmer has performed the role of Goofy in Mickey’s PhilharMagic and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Outside of Goofy, Farmer loaned his voice to the Cowardly Lion in the extinct Disney’s Hollywood Studios attraction The Great Movie Ride.

goofy in mickey and minnie's runaway railway
Image: Disney

Beyond Goofy – Bill Farmer’s Other Disney Voices

For well over thirty years, Bill Farmer has been the only voice for both Goofy and Pluto. But his resume has grown to include many other characters and contributions.

Farmer has performed a great many tiny roles throughout Disney television and film. In Disney’s 1991 film Beauty and the Beast, Farmer is credited with “other voices.” What was that other voice? It was none other than Gaston’s “gulp, gulp, gulp” when he swallows several eggs. Yes – Bill Farmer was the voice of “eggs.”

Other minor roles performed by Farmer include that of ants in the 1998 Pixar film A Bug’s Life, minor characters in both Monsters, Inc. films, Edgar in the 2003 film Brother Bear, and several characters from the 2006 film Cars, among many others.

bill farmer recording for the 7d
Image: Disney

From 2014 to 2016, Farmer played the role of Doc in Disney’s animated television series The 7D – a more modern take on the seven dwarfs.

Throwing His Voice Beyond Disney

According to Farmer, his voice roles as Goofy, Pluto, or any other Disney character are always paid as individual performance contracts. As such, Farmer is not an employee of The Walt Disney Company, and he is free to perform other voice roles outside Disney.

In the wacky world of Warner Bros. animation, Farmer has voiced Yosemite Sam, Sylvester the cat, and Foghorn Leghorn – most notably in the 1996 film Space Jam. Farmer also took a stab at Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck in four episodes of the long-running parody series Robot Chicken.

Farmer took on the role of Secret Squirrel on a couple episodes of the television series Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.

looney tunes space jam
Image: Warner Bros.

Back on the big screen, Farmer has lent his vocal talents to films such as Horton Hears a Who (2008), The Grinch (2018), Minions (2015), The Secret Life of Pets (2016), and Sing (2016).

Bill Farmer’s “Ruff” Life

In 2020, Farmer took a rare role on-screen, hosting the nine-episode live-action television show It’s a Dog’s Life with Bill Farmer on Disney+.  Each episode of the show spotlighted the amazing talents of some amazing four-legged friends, to the absolute joy of Farmer (and the viewer!).

it's a dog's life with bill farmer
Image: Disney

Sticking with his comedy roots, Farmer still regularly performs comedy routines at the Laugh Factory.

Bill Farmer – An Award Winning Voice and a Disney Legend

Farmer won an Annie Award for Voice Acting in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production for his work as Goofy and Grandma Goofy in Mickey Mouse shorts, and shares an Annie Award for Best Vocal Ensemble in a New Television Series in The 7D.

He’s also won the Behind the Voice Actors Television Voice Acting Award twice for his efforts in The 7D.

In 2011, the International Family Film Festival awarded Bill Farmer the ‘Friz Award’ for entertainment in animation.

But perhaps the most meaningful award Farmer has received in his career came in 2009, when he was named a Disney Legend.

bill farmer recording
Image: Disney

Farmer asserts that voice acting is not just about making funny voices. Early in his career Farmer learned that when doing cartoon voices, a person is not merely doing a funny voice, but they are an actor, and the acting is premier. The performer has to think like the character they are performing.

In other words, a successful voice actor has to “be” the character. In performing the voice of Goofy, Farmer has truly come to identify with the clumsy canine. As Farmer once said, “In the beginning, I had to stop and think what Goofy’s motivation was, but now he lives inside me.”

Thanks for reading about one of the all-time great Disney voice performers – Bill Farmer. If you’d like to hear Farmer perform a bunch of his best impressions all in one sitting, tune in to the Dizney Coast To Coast Podcast episode where host Jeff DePaoli interviews Farmer. I got much of my information for this article from that podcast, which was incredibly entertaining. Enjoy!

dizney coast to coast logo
Click the DTCT Logo to Listen!

Are you a big fan of Goofy? Offer a comment or share this article with a friend by reaching out on social at:  Instagram  Facebook  X

Check out more Disney Legends in our spotlight collection.


Dizney Coast to Coast Podcast – Goofy and Pluto Voice Actor, Bill Farmer (via Spotify)

Disney Legend Bill Farmer, D23

Disney Wiki – Bill Farmer

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