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.
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.
There 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
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.
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.
The 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!).
Only 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.