Wilhelm Scream (1951- ∞)

Posted: 22/12/2012 in Tribute
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The legendary Wilhelm Scream is an inside joke among the sound engineers and  originates from a series of sound effects recorded for the 1951 movie Distant Drums. In a scene from the film, soldier is bitten and dragged underwater by an alligator. The scream for that scene was recorded later (by actor and singer Sheb Wooley) in a single take, along with five other short pained screams, which were slated as “man getting bit by an alligator, and he screamed.” It was later re-used in many Western and Adventure films. But the greatest triumph of the Wilhelm scream was yet to come! Motion picture sound designer Ben Burtt,  discovered the original recording (which he found as a studio reel labeled “man being eaten by alligator”) and incorporated it into a scene in Star Wars ( IV: A New Hope). Burtt is also credited with naming the famous scream (after Private Wilhelm  in The Charge at Feather River). Over the next decade, Burtt  incorporated the effect in more  films that he worked on, including projects by George Lucas and  Steven Spielberg (you can find the scream in every Star Wars and Indiana Jones film). Other sound designers of course picked up on the effect soon enough , and including Wilhelm Scream became holy tradition among the sound designer community.

Sheb Wooley’s other hit, unexplainable song by the name of  “Purple People Eater

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