The Story Of “The Wilhelm Scream”
Coming across weird, useless things like this, is what makes life fun.
When films need vocal sound effects, professional voice actors are frequently called in to a recording studio to create them.
For the Warner Bros. 1951 film “Distant Drums” the sound needed was “a man being bit by an alligator. ” Instead of the actor being “bit” by the alligator recording the scream of pain, someone else at the studio, did the screaming.
An anonymous actor, thought to be Sheb Wooley, whose big claim to fame is his 1958 novelty hit song, Purple People Eater, recorded several screams. The scream that was used in “Distant Drums” and the other screams he recorded for that one scene, were then put in the Warner Bros. sound effects library so they could be used again.
And used again they were. Two years later in 1953’s “The Charge at Feather River” the scream is heard when a soldier named Pvt. Wilhelm (actor, Ralph Brooke) gets shot in the leg by an arrow.
That one scream, now known as “the Wilhelm Scream” has been used in over 200 films & TV shows to date, including every “Star Wars” movie, “Iron Man 2,” “Inglorious Basterds” and an episode of “The Simpsons.”
Here is the complete story of the Wilhelm Scream from the web site Hollywood Lost and Found and a video they made which is worth watching.