This week Mickey Mouse and company star in a original audio adventure, and we take a look at the numerous releases of Orphan’s Benefit – a cartoon soundtrack that just turned 80.
MICKEY MOUSE’S CANDY MINE
RCA Victor Records VY-2001 (Two 10” 78 RPM Mono Discs) WY-2001-3330 (One 7” 45 RPM Mono Disc)
Released in 1952. Producer: Steven R. Carlin. Writer: Dick Huemer. Music: Norman Leyden. Running Time: 9 minutes. Voices: Verne Smith (Narrator); Jimmy Macdonald (Mickey Mouse); Pinto Colvig (Goofy); John Brown (King of the Trolls).
Tunes: “Digging Song,” “There Was a King.”
Like comics and storybooks, phonograph records frequently found the Disney characters in adventures found nowhere else. In the postwar baby boom, children’s records were hot commodities and to compete with other suburban store temptations, some of their producers came up with novel ways to set them apart.
The overused term “immersive” may be prevalent today, but anything that seemed to have multiple marvelous uses was very attractive to parents, especially if they were convinced that it would keep them occupied (and quiet) for even a few more minutes. Enter the RCA Victor Little Nipper Series Record Album. It dices! It slices! It juliennes! Well, what it really did was offer a record to play, a book to read, pictures to color, punch-out puppets, a puppet “stage” and a form for joining the coveted Little Nipper Club. (Note how Goofy’s name is spelled over the stage page.)
Click thumbnails (below) to enlarge images
The story was written by an official Disney Legend, animator/writer/director Dick Huemer, who worked on tons of classic films such as Dumbo, The Band Concert, Alice in Wonderland, classic comics and other non-animated projects. But to Disney record fans, Huemer created original stories for such cherished discs as The What-zis and the Whoo-zis.
In his later years with Disney, Dad occasionally scripted kiddie records—phonograph discs targeted to the younger set—in addition to his TV scripts and newspaper features like ‘True-Life Adventures,’” said Dick’s son, Dr. Richard Huemer. “The most widely popular record was A Christmas Adventure in Disneyland.
“But there were others, like this delightful Mickey Mouse and the Candy Mine, that I later found out about from collectors. I love the good-natured humor of the story and the narrative style so reminiscent of my own childhood, when Dad would tell us tales from Disney cartoons.”
GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Mickey Mouse’s Candy Mine”
To be technical, the mine really belongs to the king of the trolls, therein causing trouble for our pals. Why is Goofy suddenly allergic to the word “licorice?” To serve the story, I guess. Note the part where Verne Smith forces out a cheesy Chevy Chase-like chuckle.
THE ORPHANS BENEFIT
(b/w Three Little Pigs)
RCA Victor Records Y-1 (10” 78 RPM/Mono) WY-2001 (One 7” 45 RPM Mono Disc) (Side Two: 3 minutes / 1944)
First released on records in 1936 (U.K.) and 1937 (USA) on the Bluebird label.
MICKEY’S BIG SHOW
Official Mickey Mouse Club Records DBR-74 (10” 78 RPM or 7” 45 RPM/Mono/1958)
Released in 1958. Executive Producer/Liner Notes: Jimmy Johnson. Producer for Disneyland Records: Camarata. Music: Frank Churchill. Running Time: 7 minutes.
Also issued on these albums: Musical Highlights from the Mickey Mouse Club (Official Mickey Mouse Club MM-12 / Disneyland DQ-1227); Mickey Mouse and His Friends (Disneyland DQ-1321); Mickey and the Beanstalk (Disneyland Storyteller ST-3974); The Mouse Factory Presents Mickey and His Friends (Disneyland DQ-1342); Mickey Mouse—This is My Life (ST-3805).
Voices: Walt Disney (Mickey Mouse); Clarence Nash (Donald Duck); Florence Gill (Clara Cluck).
Orphan’s Benefit celebrated its 80th birthday yesterday – at least the original black and white release, as it was remade in color seven years later. (The apostrophe appeared after the “s” on the title card of the 1941 edition and some records added “The”.) It may be that the soundtrack to this short is the one most released on records (the soundtrack to Three Little Pigs was on RCA Records but not again until the Ovation Records Magical Music of Walt Disney boxed set in the ‘70s and on Disney CD in the ‘80s).
Classic as the animated visuals are, Donald Duck’s recitations and Clara Cluck’s aria in Orphan’s Benefit also hold up beautifully as pure audio. When RCA made it one of their first Disney recordings, they edited it down to “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “Lucia di Lammermoor” so it would fit on one side of the disc, either with Mickey’s Grand Opera or Three Little Pigs.
Disney’s own label released a different cut of the soundtrack for their first Mickey Mouse Club album, then repurposed it on several LPs and singles. Their version also included Donald’s “Little Boy Blue,” but trimmed a little differently than the RCA release.
GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Mary Had a Little Lamb & Aria from “Lucia di Lammermoor”
This never fails to delight, no matter how many times it plays. I used to play the Clara Cluck part in school, watching the amused reactions after the seemingly dignified orchestral introduction gives way to the chicken scratches. (You had to be there.)