Phil Harris (June 24, 1904 – August 11, 1995) was a singer, songwriter, jazz musician, actor and comedian, best remembered for his voice work; he provided the voices for “Baloo” in Disney’s The Jungle Book and “Little John” in Disney’s Robin Hood. Born Wonga Philip Harris in Linton, Indiana, Harris grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. Beginning in the late 1920s, he worked as a drummer in an orchestra he formed with Carol Lofner in San Francisco. When the partnership ended, he continued to perform with his own band. In the mid-1930s, Harris became musical director of The Jell-O Show starring Jack Benny. Although responsible for singing and leading the band, Harris had a quick wit and comic timing that insured his inclusion into Benny’s comic ensemble.
Phil Harris and Alice Faye married in 1941; it was a second marriage for both of them. Although insiders predicted the union would not last more than six months, the marriage lasted fifty-four year, until Harris’s death in 1995. In 1946, the couple began co-hosting a Sunday night comedy-variety show titled The Fitch Bandwagon, sponsored by F. W. Fitch Co., a hair products manufacturer located in Des Moines, Iowa. The show’s premise, to showcase big bands, shifted as the popularity of Harris and Faye’s family skits grew in popularity. In 1948, Rexall, a pharmaceutical company, became the show’s sponsor and its title changed to The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show. The couple played themselves in the weekly situation comedy that included two young actresses playing the couple’s real-life daughters. The show featured Harris as a bumbling, slightly vain husband and Faye as his loving, but sharp-tongued wife. During each episode, Faye and Harris sang a couple of songs. Generally, Faye performed ballads and Harris sang swing numbers. The show ended in 1954.
The couple continued to work, separately and together, until Harris’s death.