Classic Movie Travels: John Fiedler – Wisconsin and New Jersey
A longtime actor, John Fiedler made his mark upon the stage, film, and radio, in addition to notably voicing the beloved Piglet in Disney’s Winnie the Pooh. Fiedler was born John Donald Fielder on February 3, 1925, in Platteville, Wisconsin, to beer salesman Donald Fiedler and wife Margaret. He also had a brother named James Fiedler. The family relocated to Shorewood, Wisconsin, in 1930, where Fiedler would continue his education and graduate from Shorewood High School in 1943.
After his graduation, Fiedler enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served through the end of World War II. Following his discharge, he pursued an acting career in Manhattan, appearing on radio in The Aldrich Family. He also carried out early television performances in the 1950s, namely portraying meek or nervous individuals. His film debut occurred in 12 Angry Men (1957), while a departure from his usual anxious roles would be in True Grit (1969) as a lawyer.
Among his distinct performances in his participation as an original cast member of the stage play A Raisin in the Sun (1961), in which he portrayed a housing representative. He would execute the same role in the 1961 film and the 1988 television version. He also appeared in The Odd Couple (1968), Harper Valley PTA (1978), and The Cannonball Run (1981). Fiedler made many television guest appearances in Twilight Zone, Columbo, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Munsters, and more.
In the 1970s and beyond, Fiedler collaborated frequently with Walt Disney Productions. He first lent his voice to Disney in Robin Hood (1973) as the church mice, among additional characters; The Rescuers (1976), The Fox and the Hound (1981), and The Emperor’s New Groove (2000), in addition to two live-action appearances. He also voiced Piglet in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977), The Tigger Movie (2000), Piglet’s Big Movie (2003), and Pooh’s Heffalump Movie (2005).
Fiedler passed away on June 25, 2005, in Englewood, New Jersey, while residing at the Lillian Booth Actors Home. He was 80 years old. Interestingly, Paul Winchell, his co-star, and voice of Tigger passed away the previous day. Fiedler was cremated and scattered on Long Island. Since then, voice actor Travis Oates has carried on voicing the role of Piglet.
In relation to Fiedler’s life, his alma mater of Shorewood High School remains. It is located at 1701 E. Capitol Dr., Shorewood, Wisconsin.
Additionally, the Lillian Booth Actors Home is now the Actors Fund Home, continuing to assist American entertainment and performing arts professionals. It is located at 155-175 W. Hudson Ave., Englewood, New Jersey.
While few locations of relevance to Fiedler remain, his legacy lives on through his voice talent.
–Annette Bochenek for Classic Movie Hub
Annette Bochenek pens our monthly Classic Movie Travels column. You can read all of Annette’s Classic Movie Travel articles here.
Annette Bochenek of Chicago, Illinois, is a PhD student at Dominican University and an independent scholar of Hollywood’s Golden Age. She manages the Hometowns to Hollywood blog, in which she writes about her trips exploring the legacies and hometowns of Golden Age stars. Annette also hosts the “Hometowns to Hollywood” film series throughout the Chicago area. She has been featured on Turner Classic Movies and is the president of TCM Backlot’s Chicago chapter. In addition to writing for Classic Movie Hub, she also writes for Silent Film Quarterly, Nostalgia Digest, and Chicago Art Deco SocietyMagazine.