ANIMATION SPIN
November 14, 2017 posted by Greg Ehrbar

Mickey’s Birthday & Donald’s Unbirthday on Golden Records

When “Mickey’s friends from Disneyland” gather for a surprise birthday party, a sullen Donald needs a “Goofy Knows Best” moment on this disc from the mid-‘50s.

Walt Disney’s
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MICKEY MOUSE

and DONALD DUCK’S UNBIRTHDAY
With the Original Voices of Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and Goofy
Big Golden Records DBR3-98 (10” 78 RPM / Mono)

Released in 1955. Producer: Arthur Shimkin. Musical Direction: Mitch Miller. Arrangements: Jimmy Carroll. Writer: Marshall Barer. Running Time: 7 minutes.
Songs: “Happy Birthday” (Traditional); “The Unbirthday Song” by Al Hoffman, Mack David, Jerry Livingston.
Voices: Jimmy Macdonald (Mickey Mouse, Narrator); Clarence Nash (Donald Duck); Pinto Colvig (Goofy), The Sandpiper Singers.

As Golden Records had proven on the “Song Parade” albums we explored earlier this year, there was an effort to establish “Disneyland” in the public mindset as the world’s central location for all things Disney, from the moment Walt himself proclaimed it on the first episode of his TV series.

Golden Records and its founder, Arthur Shimkin, were among the biggest players as merchandise licensees with Disney, so 1955 saw an avalanche of Golden/Disney audio rolling into stores (Doctor Who, where are you for collectors like us?)

Among the most interesting new items were the “Big Golden Records.” Basically, these were ordinary 10-inch 78 RPM records, pressed in yellow plastic–but to kids who were used to 6-inch discs they were like discs from Mount Olympus. They played about four times as long as the Little Golden Records, so their material could be re-purposed on the smaller discs, too. (Indeed, the Mickey Mouse side of this record was later reissued.)

This is one of many Golden Records of the period in which Jimmy Macdonald, Clarence Nash and Pinto Colvig recorded dialog in Hollywood that was mixed with musical material made in New York. These music beds can be heard on other Golden “Happy Birthday” records as needed, and “The Unbirthday Song” track—which we hear on side two when Goofy consoles a dejected Donald Duck–comes from the Anne Lloyd version of the tune that was done for Golden’s Alice in Wonderland series of records.

Stage and TV writer/lyricist Marshall Barer was responsible for numerous songs on early Golden Records, many with lyrics by Mary Rodgers (“Freaky Friday”). The duo’s most famous success was the Off-Broadway smash Once Upon a Mattress with Carol Burnett, which was made into a TV musical twice.

Barer’s script for Mickey’s birthday offers Chip, Dale and Pluto at their most humorously narcissistic, as they give presents to their friend that are obvious intended for themselves (this actually happened with a neighbor of mine when I was a kid and was a source of laughs for years).

Golden (and probably Barer) did another Little Golden Record called Walt Disney’s Happy Birthday featured Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella and the mice that also used the “Happy Birthday” music track, only it was intended for kids who were having birthdays. It was reissued at least once and may have also been used for other merchandise.

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Happy Birthday to Mickey Mouse” and “Donald Duck’s Unbirthday”

You can listen to this now or save it for November 18th, which was established as his official birthday because of the release of Steamboat Willie in 1928.

4 Comments

  • Mickey Mouse is going to be the Big 9-0 (ninety) next year are they planning any special cds to celebrate this important milestone?

  • No doubt the Walt Disney Company would rather downplay the Mouse’s 90th birthday. Keeping him under perpetual copyright, and consequently keeping all copyrights to post-1923 material, especially music, locked up as well, extends copyright protections far beyond what was the original intention of the copyright law. This perpetual copyright also extends the life of corporate intellectual property practically forever. Why create new characters and new ideas when the law of the land lets you reap profits off the same old characters and concepts for all time to come? So happy birthday, Mr. Mouse, just don’t tell anybody how old you are, O.K.? Oh, and thanks a lot and rest in peace, Sonny Bono!

    • Thank you for that eulogy Mark!

    • Then why are they giving Minnie a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame next year? Can’t think of any other reason other than to commemorate the mice’s millstone.’

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