Sterling Holloway's distinctive looks led him to voice Winnie the Pooh

When a Hollywood exec shrewdly told the actor his face was too repulsive for the pictures, he almost quit before Winnie the Pooh ever got to utter "Oh, bother."

On Now
How Many Characters from Winnie the Pooh Showed Up In Mayberry?
Up Next:

Sterling Holloway is an actor best known for saying, "Oh, bother," the catchphrase Winnie the Pooh utters whenever he gets himself into a sticky situation.

Voicing the loveable cartoon bear is likely Holloway’s most famous role, and there’s a chance that we never would’ve heard his dulcet take on Winnie the Pooh if Holloway had listened to a Hollywood executive who during his very first screen test discouraged him from pursuing any acting career.

As Holloway told the story to The Los Angeles Times in 1979, he showed up at Paramount, stepped in front of the camera, and a shrewd executive did not mince words when he told him, "Give up on the movies. Your face is too repulsive."

There were many times in Holloway’s career when he considered quitting acting, but this was the most discouraging.

Ever since he was a young boy putting on plays in his father’s barn and dragging neighborhood kids in to act in them all, he knew he wanted to be an actor.

Determined, he took on small parts where he nearly always played a comedic role, appearing on sitcoms like The Andy Griffith Show and Gilligan’s Island. Just as the Paramount executive predicted, his distinct looks held him back from the dramatic roles he craved.

"I wanted to be a serious actor," Holloway said. "But they kept giving me comedy parts. I asked them why and they said, 'Well, you go home tonight and look in the mirror.'"

His career turned around when Frank Capra spotted him onset one day when he was visiting with a cousin who happened to be dating Capra’s assistant director. Capra liked Holloway’s look and invented a bank teller role that Holloway improvised throughout the film American Madness.

From there, Holloway drew interest from many directors, ultimately appearing in more than 200 roles in his career, but before all of that happened, it was Walt Disney who saw the actor performing and heard the voice of a star.

Holloway told the Times that three days after the Paramount exec dashed his dreams of doing movies, Walt Disney called to pull the actor into the voicework that made him famous.

In his life, Holloway proved that Paramount exec wrong, amassing enough wealth to design a hilltop house with a view of the ocean that housed an art collection so massive that the Winnie the Pooh voice actor’s home became known as a "lived-in museum."

In his collection, he had famous works of artists like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, but perhaps most important to marking the magnitude of his acting legacy, in his living room, he hung an abstract portrait of himself done by the Dutch painter Karel Appel.

Every day that he sat on his couch, his distinctive face, which almost denied his ambitions as an actor entirely, hung on the wall above him, an artistic rendering that proved what the Paramount exec considered "repulsive" in his features was actually a work of art and a huge part of pop history.

Watch The Andy Griffith Show on MeTV!

Weeknights at 8 & 8:30, Sundays at 6 & 6:30 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


VickiD 2 months ago
I read an article that said he never married but adopted a young boy, I'm sorry to say he always was creepy to me I couldnt stand his voice. I thought omy he is a creep. But one of the comments I read explains it I hope this guy wasn't too young. ugh
horribleHDanny 19 months ago
That's rich,considering the executive probably looked like Fred Flintstone after a 3 week meth and alcohol bender!!
horribleHDanny 30 months ago
Not just Winnie the Pooh,but Kaa the Snake in "The Jungle Book",The Cheshire Cat in "Alice in Wonderland",the Stork in "Dumbo",and he narrated Disney's version of "Peter and the Wolf".Disney kept him busy for a while!
bagandwallyfan52 31 months ago
I wonder if Sterling Holloway and Jack Gilford appeared in
any movies together or TV shows together and I am I
the only person who noticed
that Sterling Holloway and
Jack Guilford Resembled Each
Other ??!! I think that actors
Alan Oppenheimer (Mickey Malph in one episode of Happy Days) and Bernie West (Wayne
Hinshaw the crooked lawyer
On Gomer Pyle USMC episode
Sue The Pants off them .
Actors Herbie Faye and Ned Glass also Resemble each other.
I saw an actor on Fantasy Island
Who looked Exactly Like
Humphrey Bogart.
I definitely think that actors Alan Oppenheimer
And Bernie West Resemble
Each Other. Alan Oppenheimer played Mickey Malph on one episode Only of Happy Days (AKA The Fonz where
Officer Kirk (ED Peck tried
to run Fonzie out of town)
And Bernie West who played crooked lawyer
Wayne Hinshaw on one
Episode Only of Gomer Pyle USMC do resemble each other and Actors
Sterling Holloway and
Jack GILFORD resemble
Each Other.
Nala92129 32 months ago
Sterling Holloway gave me the willies!
lynngdance 32 months ago
Slightly off-topic here, but another particular Disney character had A birthday yesterday, hmm...I wonder who that could be...let me see... he’s the leader of the club that’s made for you and me... oh I know! M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E! 😆 lol, here’s a belated birthday drawing to celebrate Mickey’s 97th. 😄
lynngdance lynngdance 32 months ago
CaptainDunsel 32 months ago
MeTV Staff - You have a typo in your sub-heading:

"When a Hollywood exec shrewishly told the actor his face was too repulsive for the pictures[...]"

There. I fixed it for you.
vinman63 32 months ago
At a time when same sex marriages were illegal, Sterling adopted his companion so he could leave him his estate.
Patty18 32 months ago
I loved him in Remember The Night. How he was always muttering when the two old maid sisters would get him to do chores and how he loved the hat from Fred McMurray. It's on my to watch list of Christmas movies. He definitely was a joy to watch.
sjb66coronet 32 months ago
From the terrific Christmas movie,"Remember the Night",Sterling singing A Perfect Day....
BrentwoodJon 32 months ago
He was A great actor!
Movies and TV
DannyEstridge 32 months ago
Always liked his voice. It was perfect for interesting roles. Wonder if anyone remembers him in the original Super Man tv series from the '50s? Plus, because of his voice, you knew it would be great for family-type shows. Too bad I was so young back then. There were so many actors' voices that were oriented to the family. Too bad nowadays no one appreciates their talent and now they're pretty much all gone. But that was back when people actually had values, not like today.
I absolutely remember Sterling Holloway from "Adventures of Superman".
DZee CaptainDunsel 32 months ago
Me too. He was on 2 episodes,
MikefromJersey 32 months ago
I will always remember him for the 2 or 3 differently named professors he played on Superman.
He was in some great movies such as Meet John Doe. He was hilarious in Mad Mad Mad
World as the fire chief warning the madcaps not to all grab on to the fire truck ladder.
Any of you guys who haven't seen Mad Mad Mad World, you are cheating yourself,
Jonathon Winters tearing apart a service station is one of the greatest bits ever.
daDoctah MikefromJersey 32 months ago
My favorite part of Mad Mad World is at the gas station, where Winters breaks free from the chair he's been tied to, and Arnold Stang (the voice of Top Cat) turns to Marvin Kaplan (the voice of Choo Choo) and says "We're gonna haveta kill 'im".
MikefromJersey daDoctah 32 months ago
Holy Smokes, it never occurred to me they were both in Top Cat too. And I am with you pal,
the line you cited was killer.
GeorgeVieto 32 months ago
I remember him as the television repairman in the "Twilight Zone" show called "What's In The Box"?".
Bifocals 32 months ago
I had the good fortune to meet him in 1987. I kept talking to him and would occasionally
close my eyes while listening in order to enjoy Poo's voice. He had a wicked sense of humor. 🤠 I was amazed to discover he hadn't lost a hair on his head.
CouchPotato19 32 months ago
He sure had a nice head of hair!
Big3Fan CouchPotato19 32 months ago
To quote Warren Zevon in Werewolves of London, "his hair was perfect".
JulieTV 32 months ago
How awful for Mr. Holloway to be told that to his face (no pun intended at all) about his features. He will always be Winnie the Pooh to me and he was a wonderful actor.
MikefromJersey JulieTV 32 months ago
It isn't exactly a surprise that Hollywood or many other industries favor good looking people
over the average or homely person. Jennifer O'Neill was a terrible actress, never worse than
in Duke Wayne's Rio Lobo, yet she was a star, on looks lone.
Blonde chippy newsreaders get jobs over accomplished journalists who are only average
looking, then 12 years later when they are canned for the latest 'hot' blonde
24 year old they then sue for ageism, completely unaware of the irony. Yes it isn't fair that
women especially suffer for getting older, but these airheads didn't mind when they
unfairly got a job over a better prepared person in the 1st place.
Wow your sure bitter.
"Wow your sure bitter"
Hi Jon,
Wow, you sure read me wrong. I got stuck on a jury for 6 days because a newswoman
sued her station for ageism. It was apparent to all she was marginally more intelligent
than a dunny house door after she was cross examined - "um, like New Mexico isn't a state,
right?" - then she suddenly settled with the station. Judge takes 6 seconds to dismiss
jury, after we spent 6 days listening to this stuff. Lawyers get paid, courthouse staff gets
paid, the ditzy newsreader she got paid, all at the expense of the poor saps on the jury
who were subjected to this sideshow while taken away from our families/jobs.
Nala92129 MikefromJersey 32 months ago
Truer words never spoken!
GEMof72 32 months ago
Hollyweird is so cruel. Glad he kept going.
bagandwallyfan52 32 months ago
I have tried to ask Google for
Side By Side Photos of movie
And TV actors STERLiNG
With No Luck because I think that Sterling Holloway and
Jack Guilford Resemble each
Other . Can anybody Post a
Photo of Jack Guilford and a
Photo of Sterling Hollyway to
See if they resemble each other.
I know that TV and movie actors
Herbie Faye and Ned Glass
Look a lot alike.
Thanks for the photos of
Sterling Holloway (Left)
And Jack Guilford(Right).
Also I would like to mention that Ned Glass
Ran the Hangout of either
The Jets or the Sharks(I
Don't remember whether the Sharks OE Jets had the
Hangout where Ned Glass
Worked and I can't remember the name of the
Character that Ned Glass
Played) and Herbie Faye
Played Pops the man that
Ran the Dukes hangout on
Happy Days in the episode
Knock Around The Block.
Richie Cunningham was friends with Frankie in that.episode and the Dukes
Stole Postie's bicycle.
Herbie Faye and Ned Glass
Both appeared on Gomer
Pyle USMC and The Dick Van Dyke Show in different
I remember Sterling Holloway
And Jack Guilford in several TV shows but I
Can't remember the names
Of any movies that Jack
Gilford and Sterling Holloway were in over the. Years.Anyone remember
Their movies?
When I first saw the pic I thought of the Cracker-Jack commercial and then realized it was Jack I was thinking of.
Both of them played the same type of part.
They were both Great!
MrsPhilHarris 32 months ago
He is somewhat amusing in the Christmas movie Remember The Night with Fred MacMurray.
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?