FULTON BURLEY
by Scott Wolf

One of my biggest regrets of Mouse Clubhouse is that I never had the chance to interview Fulton Burley who passed away on May 8, 2007.

Fulton Burley was an Irish tenor who for 25 years starred in the Golden Horseshoe Revue (one of my favorite things at Disneyland).

On June 12, 1922, the world was blessed with the birth of Frank Fulton Burley. He was born in Tipperary, Ireland… or so he said. While he really was Irish, and he did live in Ireland for a short time as a small boy, that was just a little bit of blarney, and those who knew Fulton would expect nothing less from him. He lived his life trying to put a smile on everyone’s face… and he succeeded.

In reality, Fulton was actually born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. He was one of ten children. Fulton said, “We slept three in a room … three in a bed… I didn’t even know what it was to sleep alone until I got married!”

Fulton always had entertaining in his green blood. He sang and acted in high school and in 1942 was known as the “Promising Young Windsor Tenor,” performing throughout Windsor at several events including the “Concert for the Queens Fund for air raid victims.”

After his last semester at Wayne State University he hit the road to New York as part of "Billy Rose’s Diamond Horseshoe Revue."

Fulton signed a nine month contract with Billy Rose, but on his second night of the show fate was on his side when he was discovered by an MGM talent scout.

Fulton signed a contract with MGM and appeared in several films including Thrill of a Romance starring Van Johnson and Esther Williams. Fulton played a Canadian flier and was uncredited in that film.

Fulton Burley at the Golden HorseshoeWhile working on Thrill of a Romance, Fulton met another actor who also was uncredited and also played a Canadian flier. That person’s name is Wally Boag, and it’s Wally who would eventually bring him to Disneyland to perform in the Golden Horseshoe Revue.

Fulton delighted audiences at the Golden Horseshoe from 1962 until the show's final performance in 1986.

His regular routine included singing "Clancy Lowered the Boom" while getting the audience involved singing "boom boom boom" during the chorus. He'd stop and have fun with audience members and told the same jokes in each performance. Yet, with all the redundancy of the performance he brought a freshness to the part which delighted audiences, no matter how many times they'd seen it before. 

Before home video & DVD’s, Disney would re-release many of their films theatrically, and they would send out road shows to promote the films such as in malls and on local television shows. Fulton promoted Lady and the Tramp, Dumbo, Winnie the Pooh, and many others.

In these road tours, Fulton got to dress up as various characters and do what he did best… entertain… to help get people excited about the release of the film.
Fulton's voice is still heard in Disneyland as the voice of Michael the macaw in Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room, a show he helped write with Wally Boag. 

Every time I interview somebody who knew Fulton I learn what an amazing man he was. He had an incomparable charisma and always went out of his way to bring a smile to everybody around him. It didn't matter who they were or how important they were. He even went out of his way to bring laughter to complete strangers on the street. People constantly tell me, "You would've loved him!" I have no doubt about that.

In 1995, a day I'll never forget, Fulton, along with Golden Horseshoe Revue co-stars Betty Taylor and Wally Boag, was honored as a Disney Legend, the highest honor bestowed by the Walt Disney Company, at a ceremony at the Walt Disney Studios.

Click here to listen to Fulton in one of his typical Golden Horseshoe Revue routines.

Wally Boag remembers Fulton Burley

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