Bing Crosby Meets the Sherman Brothers Meet De-Patie-Freleng Meets Disney – in soundtrack albums for their live-action/animated TV special.
Bing Crosby Introduces Mary Frances Crosby as
Original TV Soundtrack
Evans-Black Carpets by Armstrong Promotional Album (Produced by Disneyland Records) DL-3511 (12” 33 1/3 RPM / Stereo)
Disneyland Storyteller Series ST-3998 (12” 33 1/3 RPM / Mono)
Released in 1970. A Sherman Bros/DePatie-Freleng Production. Show Producers: David H. DePatie, Friz Freleng. Director: Marc Breaux. Associate Producer: Walter Bien. Co-Producers: Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman. Teleplay: A.J. Carothers. Arranger/Conductor: Doug Goodwin. Running Time: 28 minutes.
Performers: Bing Crosby (Himself); Kathryn Crosby (Herself); Mary Frances Crosby (Herself, Goldilocks); Nathaniel Crosby (Himself); Paul Winchell (Narrator, Bob Cat, Forest Animals); Avery Schreiber (Forest Animals).
On Tuesday, April 2, 1970, NBC broadcast Goldilocks, a 30-minute special that was unique for its technique, participants and position in entertainment history. It was the first TV special, a rare venture into combining live-action and animation, for De-Patie Freleng. At the center of the project were the Sherman Brothers, who brought with them great talents and close friends: Mary Poppins co-choreographer Marc Breaux to direct the live-action and Disney’s Happiest Millionaire scribe A.J. Carothers (also the creator of ABC’s Nanny and the Professor) to write the special. They also enlisted Jimmy Johnson at Disneyland Records to release the complete soundtrack on records.
Songs: “Take a Little Longer Look”, “The Human Race”, “Don’t Settle for Less (Than the Best)” by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman.
In 1970, DePatie-Freleng was producing cartoons starring The Pink Panther, The Ant and the Aardvark and others for theaters and Saturday morning TV, but would also eventually make almost two-dozen primetime specials, many with Dr. Seuss. The Shermans, only a few years after were weathering post-Walt changes at the Disney studios. Their last musical fantasy for Disney, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, was a year away, and they were exploring new ventures and responsibilities. The Goldilocks special was an important step.
Because the show was produced by DePatie-Freleng with their musical director (Doug Goodwin) and their character designer (Al Wilson), the Disney release of the record is a curious hybrid. The uncredited illustrator of the 11-page Disney Storyteller book—who created art for quite a few albums in the line, including two based on Oz books—smoothes out the distinctive Xeroxed DePatie-Freleng rough-hewn edges and retains only the character shapes. The backgrounds only bear a passing resemblance to those in the film. (Click each double-page spread below to enlarge)
The Disneyland Storyteller LP release was released in single-channel mono, while the promotional LP offered at Evans-Black Carpet dealers (the program’s sponsor) was in with mono tracks mixed inventively in multiple left and right channels to create a stereo feel. Even though the Evans-Black-Armstrong record does not list Disney anywhere on the label or cover, the print on the label is identical to a Disney album of the era and the “DL-3500” catalog series indicates a Disney promotional record. The art direction on the Armstrong LP appears to have been done by their ad agency.
The Sherman Brothers’ connection with Bing Crosby goes back to the days when their father, Al, wrote songs for the star. They remained friends for decades (Bing was even considered for the lead in the Sherman-scored Disney musical, The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band). He was also a good friend of Disneyland Records Musical Director Tutti Camarata, who arranged many of his Decca records in the ‘40s. The whole project made good sense all around, since Bing, Kathryn and their children had, for NBC, become welcome faces in annual Christmas TV spectaculars.The Goldilocks special is just the right length for a simple story and three songs, in the manner of half-hour Rankin/Bass specials. The live portion takes place at a family campout, with Bing telling the story to pass the time. Mary runs after a butterfly and transitions into an animated forest, where her father, mother and brother are the three bears.
As songwriters, the Shermans fashioned a mini-musical, expressing the philosophies of Bing as dad, Bing and Kathryn as adult bears, and of Goldilocks’ familiar multiple choices. Because this special has been out of circulation for so long, these fine original tunes are not as well known as they ought to be.
Writer Carothers, faced with the always-tricky task of expanding a basic fairy tale, starts fleshing things out by giving Papa Bear a Bing-like love of golf. Through Papa’s game, we meet the highly irritable (and irritating) Bob Cat, who dominates the second act with his intolerance of humans. Bob stirs up the animals into a sign-carrying protest to get Goldilocks away from her protector, Papa Bear, and is bad through and through.
It’s not rocket science to position this story in its 1970 context, when Richard Nixon was president and the country was in a ideological flux over the war, civil rights, women’s liberation, rock music, violence, drugs, sex and choosing between Ginger or Mary Ann. Sadly, the special isn’t as dated as it might have been had the issues been resolved in the ensuing 45 years.
Bing left us in 1977 (shortly before that legendary “Drummer Boy” duet with David Bowie was broadcast). Mary—who made TV history as the person who shot J.R. on worldwide hit series, Dallas—recently appeared with her mom in director Henry Jaglom’s film, Queen of the Lot. Oldest son Harry (who did not appear in the special) is a successful investment banker. In addition to acting, Kathryn has written three books about Bing and a State Fair cookbook (which we bought when she was appearing in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical). Lovely lady, “noooo doubt about it.”
GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“The Human Race”
A showcase for Bing, Kathryn and DePatie-Freleng’s shot at live-action/animation, this looks to have been done with a bit of modeling for the dance steps, perhaps by Mr. and Mrs. C themselves. Note the nod to the Sherman Brothers and Mary Poppins; Papa rides a turtle across the stream à la Jolly Holiday.
By the way, more actors who vaguely resemble doctors recommend Minute Maid orange juice for their patients who drink juice…
SO RARE: TREASURES FROM THE CROSBY ARCHIVE
Collectors Choice Music / Bing Crosby Enterprises CCM-2109 (Compact Disc / Stereo & Mono) Also available as a download.
Executive Producers: Kathryn Crosby, Gordon Anderson. Producer/Liner Notes: Robert S. Bader. Research: Martin McQuade. Mastering: Bob Fisher.
Songs: “Just One More Chance”, “I’m Through with Love”, “Buckin’ the Wind”, “Where the Turf Meets the Surf”, “Over the Rainbow”, “As Time Goes By”, “I’ll be Seeing You”, “Why Don’t You Fall in Love With Me?”, You’re the Gem State Wonder, Idaho / Buckle Down, Winsocki”, “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town”,” What Do You Mean, You Lost Your Dog?”, “We’re in the Money”, “I Hear Music”, “I Can’t Get Started”, “Because”, “Pledging My Love”, “The Yellow Rose of Texas”, “My Old Kentucky Home”, “So Rare”, “Straight Down the Middle”, “Tomorrow’s My Lucky Day”, “The Second Time Around”, “Incurably Romantic”, “Anthem of the Clams”, “Pennies from Heaven”, “Far From Home”, “How Green Was My Valley”, “Step to the Rear”, “Live a Little”, “Don’t Let a Good Thing Get Away”, “What Do We Do with the World”. “The Human Race”, “Take a Longer Look”, “That’s What Life is All About”.
Spoken: “Bing Talks about His First Radio Show”, “Bing Talks about Rock and Roll”, “Bing’s Message to the Kentucky Junior Derby”.
This two-disc set (also downloadable on iTunes) is a great way to appreciate the length and breadth of Bing Crosby’s extraordinary recording career, spanning generations and rivaling even the biggest contemporary music stars in record sales and industry influence. And because it’s comprised of hard-to-find recordings, even a Crosby collector will probably seek it out.
The album is mentioned here because it includes Bing’s groovy pop single versions of “Take a Longer Look” and “The Human Race” with peppy arrangements by music veteran by Jimmie Haskell. According to this CD’s liner notes, the Shermans asked Bing to record the single versions. Bing was fond of the Goldilocks score and happily complied, meeting with his longtime friend Al Sherman at the session. The two songs were originally intended for release as a 45 RPM 7” single and were remixed especially for this compilation by Richard Sherman and Robert S. Bader.
GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“The Human Race” (No. 2) Pop Single Version
This was, in essence, the Shermans’ take on the “humans-from-the-animals-POV” novelty song, in the tradition of Louis Prima’s hit, “Civilization” and Floyd Huddleston’s “If You Want to See Some Strange Behavior (Take a Look at Man)” from Disney’s More Jungle Book Storyteller LP. In the special, the lyrics are written to be Papa and Mama Bear’s opinions; on the single, the words are altered to reflect Bing’s perspective.