ANIMATION SPIN
September 27, 2016 posted by

Walt Disney’s “Fun and Fancy Free” on Records, Part 2

“Mickey and the Beanstalk” inspired two different recordings, as well as an unprecedented hit radio show tie-in upon which Walt himself was the guest star.

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Walt Disney’s MICKEY AND THE BEANSTALK
From Walt Disney’s “Fun and Fancy Free”
Capitol Records CCX-67 (78 RPM / Mono / 1947 / also on 45 RPM)
LP Reissue (1978): Capitol / Wonderland Records L-8109 (with Mickey Mouse’s Birthday Party)
Produced and Adapted by Alan Livingston. Musical Direction: Billy May. Running Time: 12 minutes.

Voices: Johnny Mercer (Narrator / Uncle Johnny); Bobby Driscoll (Announcer); Luana Patten (Herself); Clarence Nash (Donald Duck); Jim Macdonald (Mickey Mouse); Pinto Colvig (Goofy); Billy Gilbert (Giant); Martha Tilton (Magic Harp).
Songs: “My What a Happy Day” by Ray Gilbert, Bill Walsh, Ray Noble; “Fi-Fi-Fo-Fum” by Arthur Quenzer, Paul Smith; “My Favorite Dream” by Bill Walsh, Ray Noble; “Funiculi Funicula” by Luigi Denza, special lyrics by Arthur Quenzer.

Mickey and Beanstalk CapitolThe second half of Fun and Fancy Free (which premiered 69 years ago today) Mickey and the Beanstalk enjoyed one of the strongest afterlives among the segments created for Walt Disney’s 1940’s package films. For a time, its story was being expanded for a feature–which arguably should have happened though economics were still tight for the studio even after the war.

Ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his dummy characters were “A” list celebrities at the time of this feature. Bergen’s most popular alter ego, Charlie McCarthy, was immensely popular on radio. Many have marveled at the fact that a ventriloquist act was absurd on the non-visual medium of radio, but Bergen’s legendary talent wasn’t ventriloquism at all (his lips moved), but his ability to make these dummies seem like flesh-and-blood beings (as did the creations of one of Bergen’s devotees, Jim Henson).

In part two of Fun and Fancy Free, Jiminy leaves the house where he and we listened to Bongo (who lived in that house, exactly?) and visits a gathering at the Bergen home in Beverly Hills. Years before Fractured Fairy Tales, a popular feature of the radio show was the retelling of a famous yarn by Edgar with running comic commentary by Charlie, Mortimer Snerd and others in the cast. The Fancy Free segment built on the audience’s familiarity with the show and this feature.

On Sunday night, September 21, 1947, radio audiences tuned into The Edgar Bergen/Charlie McCarthy Show for something very special, the guest that night was Walt Disney himself with Donald Duck. Walt and his projects had been part of radio shows before, including Lux Radio Theater, but not the degree at which the cast and staff were involved with the film itself. Not only was Fun and Fancy Free premiering in New York the following Saturday, but Edgar, Charlie, Mortimer and singer Anita Gordon (who voiced the harp in the film) were in it. Even the show’s bandleader (and comic foil) Ray Noble co-wrote “My, What a Happy Day” and “My Favorite Dream”. You can hear the entire show—and imagine how it must have excited radio listeners–as broadcast, right here:

Singer/songwriter Johnny Mercer — one of the founders of Capitol Records — narrated the original recording, as if he was telling it to Luana Patten and Bobby Driscoll (Capitol’s Tales of Uncle Remus recording was done in the same way). Another Capitol artist, Martha Tilton, supplied the harp’s voice, but our three heroes were played by their genuine voices (Jimmy Macdonald officially taking over the voice of Mickey from Walt with this film).

This record’s music is as rich as on other discs during this golden age of children’s records, with hints of the original score. It’s too bad the soundtrack itself never made it to records—including the wonderful “Beanero” instrumental that accompanied the beanstalk growing sequence. Maybe someday those discs will come…

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“My What a Happy Day”
This is Martha Tilton singing the tunes on the Capitol record with the same lyrics heard in the film. Future Mary Poppins producer/scenarist Bill Walsh co-authored both this song and “My Favorite Dream.” Another of Walsh’s songwriting credits includes collaborating on “How Will I Know My Love?” the song that launched Annette’s hit recording career.


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Walt Disney’s MICKEY AND THE BEANSTALK
The Complete Story and All the Songs with the Original Cast
Disneyland Records DQ-1248 (33 1/3 RPM / Mono / 1963)
LP Reissue: Disneyland Records ST-3974 (1968, also includes songs from side one of DQ-1321 Mickey Mouse and His Friends)

Executive Producer/Adaptation: Jimmy Johnson. Producer/Arranger/Conductor: Camarata. Running Time: 18 minutes.

Voices: Robie Lester (Narrator); Clarence Nash (Donald Duck); Jim Macdonald (Mickey Mouse, Giant); Pinto Colvig (Goofy); Marilyn Hooven (Magic Harp).
Songs: “My What a Happy Day” by Ray Gilbert, Bill Walsh, Ray Noble; “Fi-Fi-Fo-Fum” by Arthur Quenzer, Paul Smith; “My Favorite Dream” by Bill Walsh, Ray Noble; “Funiculi Funicula” by Luigi Denza, special lyrics by Arthur Quenzer.

Though less opulent in production that its Capitol counterpart, this recording of Mickey and the Beanstalk may be the one that more people bought and heard, as it was on sale for over 20 years, where the Capitol 78 and 45 RPM version didn’t make it to LP until 1978.

Despite its smaller budget, it’s a delight, especially because Macdonald, Colvig and Nash returned to the microphones to reenact the story. Surprisingly, this didn’t happen on records very often. It’s also one of the few times, if any, that Donald calls out to Goofy by name.

Studio singer Marilyn Hooven plays the harp this time. Among many other Hollywood singing gigs, Hooven sang off screen for Dorothy McGuire in Disney’s Summer Magic. Our own Mouse Tracks guardian angel, Robie Lester, whom we mentioned in an earlier Spin about Ranger Woodlore, once again turns in an ingenuous, girl-next-door narration. (With the holidays on the way, it’s a good time to point out one of Robie’s best roles: Miss Jessica on the Rankin/Bass classic Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town).

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Mickey and the Beanstalk”
Listen for the short snippets of the actual film soundtrack when the giant steals the harp and when he falls down the beanstalk (the rest of the album was recorded at Sunset Sound in Hollywood) Also note the alternate lyrics for “My, What a Happy Day.”

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16 Comments

  • Greg:
    I don’t know how you do it but you came up with another great post! I like the inclusion of the Edgar and Charlie radio program! Thanks again for sharing!

  • The original animation for “Mickey and the Beanstalk” actually lacks an ending. The story finishes abruptly when the giant falls and lands with a thud. Of course, the film’s finish includes Bergen and company encountering the giant “for real” and the Brown Derby sequence, but the story itself is only concluded by Bergen’s assurance that “they lived happily ever after.” I would have liked to see the magic harp back in her place and the valley prosperous once more.The recordings make up for this with a reprise of “My What a Happy Day.” This is how MATB should have concluded. Having a final rendition of the song brings appropriate closure to the story.

    The comic book version supplies a comedic ending gag featuring Goofy and Donald, which is likewise very appropriate and in keeping with the tone and style of the cartoon.

    “Mickey and the Beanstalk” was re-purposed in the early 60’s for “The Wonderful World of Color” with Ludwig Von Drake as narrator and his little insect friend Herman as listener. In the 70’s on the “Mouse Factory:” TV show, ventriloquist Shari Lewis replaced Edgar Bergen as narrator, with Lamb Chop and Hush Puppy as her listeners.

    • Well, according to model sheets from when it was in development as a feature, I think it would have ended with a castle celebration honoring our heroes.

    • Sounds pretty much par for the course Richard.

  • I remember three different versions of Mickey and the Beanstalk, the first one of course with Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy (where Charlie was weeping over Willy the Giant’s “Demise” but of course Willy did survive the fall and as Willy walks away he grab the iconic Derby hat shape building from The Brown Derby restaurant.

    Version two was when “M&TBS” was rebroadcast on The Mickey Mouse Club minus the bookend Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy footage from Fun and Fancy Free replaced by a book showing the title of Mickey and the Giant and a smaller title stating that the book was part of the “Mickey Mouse Club Book of the Month club” both stories were told by Sterling Holloway.

    Version three was part of the Wonderful World of Color episode “The Truth About Mother Goose ” featuring Ludwig Von Drake (voiced by Paul Frees) as the host and had the same ending like Fun and Fancy Free this time involving Ludwig Von Drake instead of Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy.

    Willy the Giant was one of my favorite Disney characters, the funniest part was when he comes across the “Chocolate Pot Roast” he literally mispronounce (and mangled) the word “Pistachio” until he gives up and says “Green Gravy”. When Willy the Giant returned in Mickey’s Christmas Carol as the Ghost of Christmas Present he again mispronounced and mangled the word pistachio but said “with yogurt” instead of saying “Green Gravy”. Since then Willy the Giant guest starred in Disney Junior’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

    • At least they find continued use of that character, Iliked him popping up in Mickey’s Christmas Carol too.

  • I, too, liked the Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy Show, but who was that other character, the one who stated that the pop corn was the most important part of the show and who felt bad for the cow that had to give its life for hamburger? I kept thinking that this character inspired Warner Brothers animators in coming up with a personality for the crow in “CORN PLASTERED”.

    • That would be Mortimer Snerd. Bergen’s other characters included Effie Clinker, who was not in the Disney film.

      It’s also worth noting that Bergen and McCarthy appeared on Walt Disney’s first television program, “One Hour in Wonderland” in 1950.

    • Greg,

      I think Kevin is referring to Pat Patrick’s Ercil Twing character, not to Mortimer Snerd. Patrick was a regular on Bergen’s show, first appearing during the 1941-42 season and remaining into the early ’50s. Ercil Twing usually turned up for a short routine during the sketch in the second half of Bergen’s show. The crow in corn plastered was indeed inspired by Ercil Twing. Pat Patrick died in 1954.

      Jon

    • You’re right John–my mistake. So that’s how you spell “Ercil.”

  • The house were Jiminy hears the story of Bongo is Luana Patten’s house. It’s there that he finds her invitation to Edgar Bergen’s party.

    • Oh, that’s right! Thank you. So Luana has a nice record collection!

    • I guess we keep forgetting whose house Jiminy was in at the start before going to Edgar’s. Nice neighborhood as well, though I’m sure it’s gone to heck and back these days.

  • I think the sneeze sound effect is from the original soundtrack as well. That is definitely Billy Gilbert!

  • I also suspect that Jim McDonald’s Willie voice is his Gus-Gus voice before it was sped up for “Cinderella.”

  • Also, on the Bergen show – is that Alan Reed as the giant?

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