ANIMATION SPIN
April 8, 2014 posted by Greg Ehrbar

Tom & Jerry on Record

Tom and Jerry on Records?

Tom and Jerry sure made a lot of records for cartoon characters that don’t (usually) speak! Nevertheless, MGM Records found a way and their records speak for themselves.

tomJerry-TV-storytime

TOM AND JERRY CARTOON FAVORITES
MGM Lion Records L-70074 (12” Vinyl 33 rpm / Mono / 1958)
Reissue: TV STORYTIME WITH TOM AND JERRY
MGM Children’s Series Records CH-101 (12” Vinyl 33 rpm / Mono / 1962)
Reissue: TOM AND JERRY: 4 MUSICAL ADVENTURES OF TV’S FAVORITE CAT AND MOUSE
MGM Leo the Lion Records CH-1000 (12” Vinyl 33 rpm / Mono / 1965)

Narrator: Bret Morrison. Story: Elmer Gregory. Music: Leroy Holmes. Running Time: 34 minutes.
Johann Mouse: An adaptation of the Oscar winning 1953 short about Tom playing a waltz and Jerry dancing.
Tom and Jerry Meet Charlie the Choo Choo Train: Tom throws rocks at Jerry but hits Charlie, who gets an idea how to stop Tom.
Tom and Jerry and Old MacDonald’s Barnyard Band: This introduces the made-for-records character Harriet Hen, Hubert Hog, Pat Pony and Dora Duck, who form a band to play at Farmer MacDonald’s birthday party.
Tom and Jerry Meet Robin Hood: Jerry dreams that he and Tom help Little John and the Merry Men rescue Robin Hood from the Sherriff’s castle.

TomJerryFarm-225There were about a dozen Tom and Jerry stories created for phonograph records in the early ‘50s. Like the marvelous Capitol children’s series, MGM’s cartoon-related records were fully orchestrated. In the case of the Tom and Jerrys, Leroy Holmes’ music suggests the Norman Leyden scores for RCA children’s, each story having a specific repeated musical phrase or effect.

Holmes’ career began in big bands with such giants as Benny Goodman and Gordon Jenkins, and his later musical career was mostly in the recording industry. As musical director for United Artists, he conducted studio recreations of such scores as Citizen Kane and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. He also arranged and conducted the studio cast version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with Richard Sherman himself and Lola Fisher (Miss Tickle on Filmation’s Mission: Magic) and also wrote and conducted songs for Golden Records.

Bret Morrison handles all the heavy lifting, narrating, singing and doing nearly all of the incidental voices. An uncredited actress occasionally contributes lines and vocal effects (Jerry speaks a few words here and there). Morrison was an accomplished character actor in film and TV, but was best known as the longest-running actor to play the lead in the very popular radio thriller, The Shadow. The character as originally portrayed by Orson Welles was stern and, regarding his partner, Margo Lane, chaste. Morrison brought a warmth to the Shadow’s alter ego Lamont Cranston, who was unabashedly in love with the lovely Margo.

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Johann Mouse”

This is the only Tom and Jerry record directly adapted from an actual cartoon short. Based on the Oscar-winning 1953 MGM classic directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera (though the records don’t mention them and call Fred Quimby the creator of Tom and Jerry). Bret Morrison narrates with an accent just as Hans Conreid did in the original theatrical cartoon. When Tom hits a wall, there’s an amusing sound effect—one of the things that works nicely on records in the absence of a visual.


more-Tom-Jerry_storytime

TOM AND JERRY STORYTIME
MGM Lion Records L-70087 (12” Vinyl 33 rpm / Mono / 1959)
Reissue: MORE TV STORY TIME WITH TOM AND JERRY
MGM Records – Children’s Series CH-106 (12” Vinyl 33 rpm / Mono / 1962)

Narrator: Bret Morrison. Story: Elmer Gregory. Music: Leroy Holmes. Running Time: 41 minutes.
Tom and Jerry and the Fire Engine: Tom tangles with hornets in Jerry’s garden, then both follow a fire truck to a house fire where Jerry rescues a family of ladybugs.
Tom and Jerry and the Rocket Ship to the Moon: Upon landing, the duo discovers that on the moon, cats are tiny and mice are giants.
Tom and Jerry in the Wild West: Jerry mails himself out west, where he meets postmistress Gertie the Grizzly; Tom follows but Gertie puts him on a bucking bronco.
Tom and Jerry Down on the Farm: Visiting their friends on Old MacDonald’s farm, Harriet Hen and Jerry scheme to cover Tom with molasses and feathers, but must rescue him when a hawk tries to attack.
Tom and Jerry Meet Santa Claus: Tom dresses as Santa but gets stuck in the fireplace. (Don’t play this record for Phoebe Cates’ character in Gremlins.)
Tom and Jerry Find Aladdin’s Lamp: Jerry wishes for a piece of cheese, but greedy Tom wishes for a disastrous amount of milk.

TomJerry_Fire_EngineThe Tom and Jerry records were introduced on 10” 78 rpm records in picture sleeves. In 1958, several stories were combined into these two LP record albums, first for the “Lion” label. The first time they were repackaged, it was assumed that kids associated Tom and Jerry with TV, so the covers were changed to an on-the-nose approach with two kids watching them on TV sets (get a load of that “atomic reactor” model portable TV!).

TomJerryReissueLPOnly the first volume was reissued again, with a cover tying to the Chuck Jones character designs. This volume though, contains more stories. There were a couple of Tom and Jerry records that never made it to LP, including Tom and Jerry at the Circus and Tom and Jerry in Nursery Rhyme Land. Jerry’s appearance in The King That Couldn’t Dance from Anchors Aweigh was issued on several long-playing vinyl records, but none of these have appeared on CD or download.

Can’t seem to find information on writer Elmer Gregory. Makes me wonder if it is a pseudonym.

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Tom and Jerry and the Rocket Ship to the Moon”
I love how there’s no security on duty at the launching site and “nobody saw them because everyone was eating dinner.” Tom and Jerry could enter and blast off in the rocket undetected. That’s less likely than Alexandra Cabot shoving The Pussycats and company away from the photographer and accidentally pulling the “start” lever on their rocket ship.

14 Comments

  • I have the LEO reissue, but wasn’t the Robin Hood story adapted from the short subject as well.

  • Those vinyl albums have a late ’50s issue and by then Hanna-Barbera had left MGM and formed their successful made-for-TV cartoon company and perhaps that’s the reason MGM credited the series producer as the creator of the duo. That’s my only guess…unless the people that manufactured the LP’s didn’t do their homework and therefore had no idea of Hanna and Barbera’s involvement (!).

  • Hello, Mr. Ehrbar. I have news for you! The above 1958 album was not the first time that these 78 rpm / 45 rpm releases were transferred to lp! I have one–perhaps the only one, but I’m not sure of that–which appears to date from 1955. (The back cover lists all {apparently} of the MGM children’s titles then available, and among them is an EP of songs from Walt Disney’s LADY AND THE TRAMP by MGM artists, hence the year guess. The evidence indicates that MGM did not have a separate numerical series for children’s lps at the time, and their earliest budget-priced Lion series came out about 1958. So this lp that I’ve got is in the regular lp E series, number E 3450. Its title and content are exactly the same as your Lion L-70087. (Please note that “Story Time” is shown on the lps as two words. Yeah, I know: I’m finicky!)

    Although it is true (as far as we know) that TOM AND JERRY IN NURSERY RHYME LAND never made it to lp, the back cover of my lp shows that it was coupled on MGM 45 EP number X1169 as the flip side of TOM AND JERRY MEET SANTA CLAUS. All of the other EP repackagings of Tom and Jerry singles are shown there as well. As for TOM AND JERRY AT THE CIRCUS, that seems to have been the only Tom and Jerry record story that was not narrated by Bret Morrison, and the ONLY attempt by MGM at a book-and-record set! IMO, it was terrible, and its extreme rarity today indicates that it was an extremely poor seller! It took decades for me to even learn that it existed! Then I got a copy from a Canadian dealer’s list, and what a disappointment: Not only was it not a Morrison narration, but both Tom and Jerry SPEAK throughout the story! Awful! IIRC, there were no audio page-turning cues on it, either! They had NO idea how to produce that issue!

    There is much more info on that back cover, including records by Barry Gordon, James Brown (as Lt. Rip Masters) and a non-Tom and Jerry EP by Bret Morrison; a story called JOHNNY JET! If you would like all of the children’s titles/catalog numbers on all three speeds where available, please kindly send me your e-mail address and I shall be glad to type up the list for you a little later in the week.

  • “(get a load of that “atomic reactor” model portable TV!)”

    It’s A SONY!
    http://blog.modernmechanix.com/mags/Fortune/10-1961/sony_exec_tv.jpg

  • For those into the golden age of radio, Bret Morrison was one of the actors to play The Shadow and his alter ego LaMont Cranston. (Never mind, I see the reference in the article.)


  • The character as originally portrayed by Orson Welles was stern and, regarding his partner, Margo Lane, chaste. Morrison brought a warmth to the Shadow’s alter ego Lamont Cranston, who was unabashedly in love with the lovely Margo.

    I realize this is slightly off topic, but I’ve heard this before regarding Morrison’s (and other actors’) portrayal versus Welles’ and it isn’t necessarily the case. Listen to the section of one of the best episodes, 1938.05.28′s “The Creeper”, when Lamont thinks Margo is dead from a gunshot wound. Temporarily slipping out of his Shadow persona into that of Lamont Cranston, Welles brings a subtle throb and tenderness to his voice delivering dialogue which another actor might have delivered heavy handedly. Incidentally, it’s true that as the show entered the 1940′s the two were put into more and more scenarios that called for them to play it like Nick and Nora Charles, but even in Bill Johnstone’s run which immediately followed that of Welles, they still slept in separate hotel suites for example. Regardless, this didn’t change the minds of the loyal pulp readers who according to Walter Gibson detested the Margo character and resented her eventual inclusion in the magazine.

    • I’m sure you’re correct. Welles was amazing, and only those who follow classic radio know what a towering talent he was, long before film. But really, Mr. Gibson — how could anyone not adore “the lovely Margo Lane?”

    • Bret Morrison is certainly a worthy Shadow performer – and I’d hire him to narrate children’s records any day of the week.

  • Not sure if it was on Morrison’s watch, but recall reading “The Shadow” was recorded before a live audience — except for one season when the actress playing Margot Lane was pregnant. The network or sponsor was afraid people would think Margot and the Shadow were fooling around.

    • The final episode of the first season, 1938.03.20′s “The White Legion” concludes with the revelation of Welles and Moorehead’s identities, accompanied by rounds of applause from the audience.

  • Billboard of May 23, 1953 reviews the Morrison ‘Johann Mouse’. It was a two-record set (MGM L-17). The issue of Oct. 16, 1954 revealed they were being reissued on one EP.
    Is Sara Berner playing Jerry?

    • Don’t know who is the other voice is, but it makes sense that it would be a two record set, since it’s about twelve minutes long.

  • But , the artwork on the record sleeves is as bad as in the film posters!

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