Fulton Burley’s unique brand of humor and authentic Irish brogue made him an audience favorite at Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe Revue, where the silver-toned tenor performed for 25 years.
Born on June 12, 1922, in Tipperary, Ireland, and raised in Ontario, Canada, Fulton came to the United States in 1943 after a telephone audition landed him the singing lead in Billy Rose’s Diamond Horseshoe Revue on Broadway. He later marveled at his “Irish” luck, saying, “The peculiar thing is I was at the Golden Horseshoe for 25 years, and I had started at the Diamond Horseshoe.”
Fulton was born to sing. By age 7, he performed in church weddings; by 14, he could be heard on CKNW radio in Windsor three mornings a week before school. He later went on to sing with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra.
After high school, Fulton attended Patterson Collegiate Institute in Windsor, followed by Wayne State University in Detroit. There, he studied law with a minor in music. Ultimately he dropped his law studies to pursue a career in entertainment, and eventually won a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He appeared as a supporting actor in films such as Without Love with Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, and Homecoming with Clark Gable and Lana Turner.
During World War II, he served as a member of the 40th Special Services Division; under the command of actor Melvyn Douglas, he traveled to China, Burma, and India.
After the war, Fulton spent several years touring the United States with a number of musical productions, during which he developed his keen instinct for light comedy and a legendary repertoire of jokes.
In 1962, he was playing at the Hacienda Hotel in Las Vegas when he received a call from his pal Wally Boag, with whom he had worked as a contract player at MGM. Wally, who had been performing in the Golden Horseshoe Revue for seven years, explained that one of his fellow cast members had become seriously ill and urged Fulton to take over the role. Fulton did, and went on to light up the stage with his jovial nature and lilting brogue.
While at Disneyland, he also recorded the voice of Michael, the Audio-Animatronics® parrot featured in the Enchanted Tiki Room. He later entertained Disney fans across the country, traveling on special tours to promote the re-release of such films as the animated classic Cinderella in 1981. After a quarter century with The Walt Disney Company, Fulton retired from the Golden Horseshoe Revue in 1987. Ten years later he emerged from retirement to record a new narration for Walt Disney World’s The Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Management) alongside original Enchanted Tiki Room co-stars and fellow Disney Legends Wally Boag and Thurl Ravenscroft.
Fulton Burley passed away on May 7, 2007, in Carlsbad, California.