ABC News explores the history of the Wilhelm scream, the familiar screech heard in more than 100 films and TV shows, from Them! to Star Wars to Toy Story, since it was first recorded in 1951. The source of the scream remains a mystery, but it's likely it came from Sheb "Flying Purple People Eater" Wooley, who acted in Distant Drums, the first flick to feature the sound. From ABC New:
The scream was recorded in 1951 for "Distant Drums," a western directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Gary Cooper as a captain who leads a group of soldiers on a mission to defend 19th century Florida settlers from Seminole Indians.
During one scene, a soldier is bitten and dragged underwater by an alligator and he screams the whole way down. The soldier may have died, but a new star was born.
After "Distant Drums," the scream stayed quiet for a couple of years until 1953, when a soldier named Pvt. Wilhelm (played by Ralph Brooks in "The Charge at Feather River") got shot in the leg by an arrow. Sound editors needed a good scream and decided to reuse the one from "Distant Drums."
In fact, the scream worked so well, it became a go-to for sound editors. The blood-curdling shriek was heard in "Them!" in 1954, "Land of the Pharaohs" in 1955 and "The Green Berets" in 1963, without anyone catching on.
Previously on BB:
• Wilhelm Scream – Hollywood's favorite scream Link