The songs from The Grasshopper And The Ants, The Wise Little Hen, The Flying Mouse or Peculiar Penguins weren’t nearly as successful as Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf? had been. But that doesn’t mean that the music people at Disney were not trying!
Of the songs that came from these “Silly Symphonies” cartoons, the one that was the most successful was “The World Owes Me A Living”. In fact, it shows up in a most unlikely place–a romantic drama from Paramount that included a role for a young girl who was on the cusp of stardom herself.
The feature film was Now and Forever, a vehicle for Adolph Menjou, well-known leading man with a Continental flavor. This Paramount film features, at one point, a little girl getting up and singing, as though it were her practice piece, “The World Owes Me A Living”. She only gets in the first chorus, and the last one, sneezes and all, but she makes the desired impression. This little girl bore the name of Shirley Temple.
She had already impressed in Stand Up And Cheer (Fox, 1934), and in a loan-out to Paramount, in the title role of Little Miss Marker, based on one of Damn Runyon’s stories. Within a few months of Now and Forever, she would become one of Fox Films’ biggest stars–rivaling Will Rogers in that department.
The rest–as they say–is history–or, more properly, her-story!
I should note there have been two spectacular posts about Disney’s The Grasshopper and The Ants here on Cartoon Research. I highly recommend Greg Ehrbar’s look at the Disneyland Records releases of that Grasshopper song; and Devon Baxter’s Animation Breakdown of the cartoons production.
And, although there were no other commercial recordings of any of these songs, I do know of a recording that was not made for the take-home trade, or the music machines (that’s “juke boxes” to you.)
Recorded, “transcribed” or “canned” radio programs were going strong in the 1930’s. Major networks would have little or nothing to do with them. They–and the advertisers and advertising agencies–felt the Public would not accept programming unless it was live. . . Live!. . .LIVE!!!
It took Bing Crosby to prove them wrong. But that’s another story. . . for another post . . . on another blog.
However, “canned’ shows were popular with local radio stations, especially on the West Coast.
Due to the three-hour time difference between New York (where the networks were headquartered) and the West Coast,, the stations had plenty of prime-time to fill.
MacGregor–then partnered with one Sig Sollie–was transcribing and syndicaing programs featuring such name bands as those of Anson Weeks and Ted Fio Rito.
There was also a series of programs featuring an orchestra identified as “The Ambassadors”. Collectors do not know the identity of “The Ambassadors”, or or the vocalists who appeared on these programs. But at least one of these programs has a version of “The World Owes Me a Living”. the band’s female vocalist talks the verses, while a male singer tries to imitate Pinto Colvig in singing the chorus.
These discs wee sent to radio stations, on big, thick sixteen-inch discs, playing from the inside out. It was expected that they’d either e set back to the syndicator, or destroyed after they had been broadcast. Collectors are lucky that some of them were not destroyed.
NEXT WEEK: A sequel. . . and a mystery!