Instead, Disney dusted off and remastered the original 40-plus-year audio recordings made by character actor Royal Dano. And Dano’s rendition, despite being identified in the public’s mind as the voice of Lincoln, didn’t sound much like that of the 16th president of the United States, prominent Lincoln historians say.
“I’m listening to Royal Dano again,” said Lincoln expert Harold Holzer, who has written 35 books about the Civil War-era president. “You know, I am an absolutely committed Sam Waterston man. … I will take his readings of Lincoln over anyone’s on Earth.”
To be sure, no one living today has ever heard Lincoln speak — and there are no recordings. Much of what scholars have deduced about Lincoln’s delivery comes from contemporary accounts of his relatively high-tenor voice.
“He often was so nervous at the beginning, he would almost shift up into a falsetto before he settled himself,” said historian Ronald C. White Jr., author of “A. Lincoln: A Biography.”