ANIMATION SPIN
September 5, 2017 posted by

Jymn Magon & Ted Kryczko’s “Bambi” Storyteller Records

In Part Two, we look at how Bambi benefitted from the late ‘70s renaissance of the Disneyland Records label and the optomistic dawn of the compact disc era.

Walt Disney’s Story and Songs from BAMBI

Disneyland Records – Storyteller Series 3903 (12” 33 1/3 RPM with Book / Mono)

Released in 1980. Producer/Writer: Jymn Magon, based on the film story by Perce Pierce, Larry Morey, Vernon Stallings, Mel Shaw, Carl Fallberg, Chuck Couch, Ralph Wright. Based on the book by Felix Salten. Music: Frank Churchill, Edward Plumb. Conductor: Alexander Steinert. Choral Arrangements: Charles Henderson; Solist: Donald Novis. Orchestrations: Charles Wolcott, Paul J. Smith. Engineer: George Charouhas. Running Time 28 minutes.

Voices Include: Hal Smith, Pat Parris, Linda Gary, Tony Pope, Corey Burton.
Songs: “Love is a Song,” “Little April Shower,” “Let’s Sing a Gay Little Spring Song,” “I Bring You a Song” by Larry Morey, Frank Churchill.

The Bambi Storyteller album of 1980 came during a perfect storm of hefty record sales—thanks to such albums as Mickey Mouse Disco, other character-driven titles and non-Disney products like Star Wars and Charlie Brown records—with a visionary production team and top drawer stock company.

Jymn Magon, who would only a few years later become Story Editor of such TV hits as DuckTales and TaleSpin, had already adapted and produced dozens of Disney films into little LP book-and-record sets read-along. A few albums had also been done in this way, mostly with soundtrack dialogue, but there were rare cases in which a new studio re-creations of the dialogue were needed.

For Bambi, Magon used the generous amount of background music already assembled on past albums by Tutti Camarata, and adapted the actual film dialogue so it matched the movie as much as possible. The 7” read-alongs were also done in this way (including the title listed next), and many of the same cast members were assembled for the full-length album: Hal Smith, Corey Burton and others.

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN

Excerpt from Bambi Storyteller

This is the scene in whichc Bambi meets Flower. What is particularly impressive is the accuracy with which Magon directed the actors to duplicate the dialogue–so much so that it could be mistaken for the real thing if one doesn’t listen too closely.


Walt Disney’s Story of BAMBI
Disneyland Records – Read Along 309 (7” 33 1/3 RPM with Book / Mono)

Released in 1977. Producer/Writer: Jymn Magon, based on the film story by Perce Pierce, Larry Morey, Vernon Stallings, Mel Shaw, Carl Fallberg, Chuck Couch, Ralph Wright. Based on the book by Felix Salten. Music: Frank Churchill, Edward Plumb. Conductor: Alexander Steinert. Choral Arrangements: Charles Henderson. Orchestrations: Charles Wolcott, Paul J. Smith. Engineer: George Charouhas. Running Time: 13 minutes.

Songs: “Little April Shower,” “Love is a Song” by Larry Morey, Frank Churchill.

Voices: Bob Holt (Narrator); Linda Gary (Bambi’s Mother); Bobby Stewart (Baby Bambi); Donnie Dunagan (Boy Bambi); Hardy Albright (Adolescent Bambi); Hardy Albright (Adult Bambi); Fred Shields (Stag); Bill Wright (Friend Owl); Peter Behn (Boy Thumper); Tim Davis (Adolescent Thumper); Stanley Alexander (Boy Flower); Sterling Holloway (Adolescent/Adult Flower); Cammie King (Young Faline); Ann Gillis (Grown Faline); Donald Novis (Soloist).

This was among the first in the series of updated read-along book and record sets which replaced the narrator-only version with full casts, background music and sound effects. In this case, Bob Holt reads the book and plays Friend Owl.

The traumatic death of Bambi’s mother has been omitted in this version; instead the story simply skips ahead to spring, the fire sequence and the happy ending. Also, the Oscar-nominated “Love is a Song” is used in place of the more pensive and less kid-friendly “I Bring You a Song” for the romantic moments between Bambi and Faline.

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN

Bambi Read-Along

Note the deliberate technique of “aging” the sound to make it resemble a vintage soundtrack. This was a technique that Magon and engineer George Charouhas developed on several of these read-alongs.


Walt Disney’s BAMBI
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and Story
Narrated by Richard Kiley
Disneyland Records CD-009 (Compact Disc / Mono)

Released in 1988. Producer/Writer: Ted Kryczko, based on the film story by Perce Pierce, Larry Morey, Vernon Stallings, Mel Shaw, Carl Fallberg, Chuck Couch, Ralph Wright. Based on the book by Felix Salten. Music: Frank Churchill, Edward Plumb. Conductor: Alexander Steinert. Choral Arrangements: Charles Henderson. Orchestrations: Charles Wolcott, Paul J. Smith. Soloist: Donald Novis. Engineer: George Charouhas. Art Direction: Rod Meehan. Total Running Time 55 minutes (Story & Songs 41:00 / Bonus Material: 14:00).

Voices: Richard Kiley (Narrator); Paula Winslowe (Bambi’s Mother); Bobby Stewart (Baby Bambi); Donnie Dunagan (Boy Bambi); Hardy Albright (Adolescent Bambi); Hardy Albright (Adult Bambi); Fred Shields (Stag); Bill Wright (Friend Owl); Peter Behn (Boy Thumper); Tim Davis (Adolescent Thumper); Stanley Alexander (Boy Flower); Sterling Holloway (Adolescent/Adult Flower); Cammie King (Young Faline); Ann Gillis (Grown Faline); Marjorie Lee (Mrs. Hare); Mary Lansing (Aunt Ena, Female Skunk, Mrs. Posum, Pheasant); Thelma Boardman (Female Bunny, Mrs. Quail, Pheasant); Thelma Hubbard (Frightened Pheasant); Marion Darlington (Bird Warblings); Jeanne Christy, Janet Chapman, Babs Nelson, Jack Horner, Francesca Santoro, Elouise Wohlwend, Sandra Lee Richards, Dolyn Branston Cook (Bunnies, Children).

Bonus Audio Interviews: Walt Disney, Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, Henry Mancini.
Songs: “Love is a Song,” “Little April Shower,” “Let’s Sing a Gay Little Spring Song,” “I Bring You a Song” by Larry Morey, Frank Churchill.

When compact discs hit the stores, people were snapping them up and record companies were only too happy to release anything that moved on the shiny little things. These were salad days for collectors, before sales started to mature and marketing analyses started to hone in on what would and would not sell massive amounts.

After Jymn Magon moved on to TV series and theatrical film, producer Ted Kryczko not only took on the mantle of the Disneyland Storyteller and read-along recordings, he continues to produce new ones today, with one of the longest careers associated with the label. For Bambi, Kryczko filled the compact disc to the tippy-top, much like his earlier Snow White CD.

There were still those collectors who preferred a purely musical soundtrack, but these were still days of experimentation and the labels were figuring out what the public really wanted. Thus, the Bambi disc disc offered a bit of everything: songs, music, celebrity narration and for the first time, actual soundtrack dialogue (though RCA had offered some on their earlier Shirley Temple version).

Richard Kiley, one of the late 20th century’s finest and most versatile actors—and perhaps a little underappreciated as well—was the first “above the title” star of stage, screen and TV to narrate the story album for a Disney animated feature since Mary Martin on the Sleeping Beauty LP in 1958.

Kiley was no stranger to children’s records. In the early 1970s, he narrated three LP’s for Golden Records: Tall Tom Jefferson, The Legend of the Twelve Moons and Man of LaMancha. (Speaking of LaMancha, for which Kiley won the Tony Award, Tutti Camarata and the Mike Sammes Singers also recorded an album of music from that Broadway show for Disney’s superb Buena Vista “FantaSound” LP series.)

Kryczko turned the Bambi CD into the equivalent of a big DVD release (and at the time of its release, it was an exciting event along the same lines), right down to special bonus tracks with Walt Disney himself, Disney Legends Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, and multiple Oscar and Grammy winning composer Henry Mancini (who would go on to compose the music for The Great Mouse Detective).

There is even a booklet with art from the film and a complete list of credits. Lots of loving care went into this release. It seems that Bambi always inspired that extra special touch over the decades.

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN

Richard Kiley Narrates the Story of Bambi

Kiley certainly was a great choice for a story of such emotion and drama.

1 Comment

  • Even though the comments are few, we are reading these.

    It is great to hear Richard Kiley in his later years while he was still doing the National Geographic specials post-Thorn Birds.

    The Bambi Read-a-long obviously recycles images from the 1941 Little Golden Book. There were two popular Golden books, both “big” and “little”, that were published the year before the film’s release that were in wide circulation for all of the Wartime, Baby Boom and Generation X kiddies in multiple reprints right through the 1970s.

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