Mouseketeer-turned-movie-star Annette Funicello was the first to tell the story from Disney’s landmark animated feature on Disney’s in-house record label.
WALT DISNEY’S STORY OF SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS
Told By Annette (1957)
Narrated by Ginny Tyler (1960 and 1969)
Disneyland Storyteller ST-3906 (12” 33 1/3 RPM LP / 1966)
Since the schools, banks and post offices are going be closed tomorrow in observance of Annette Funicello’s birthday (aren’t they?), it seems fitting that we focus on her recording career—not in the teen pop genre, but in her presentation of what AFI calls the greatest animated film of all time.
Executive Producer: Jimmy Johnson. Soundtrack Producer: Camarata. Running Time (1957): 27 minutes. Running Time (1960 and 1969): 22 minutes.
Songs: “I’m Wishing,” “With a Smile and a Song,” “Whistle While You Work,” “Heigh-Ho,” “Bluddle-Uddle-Um-Dum (The Washing Song),” “A Silly Song,” “Someday My Prince Will Come” by Larry Morey and Frank Churchill.
Disneyland Records began releasing the storyteller series in 1957. These were 12-inch albums with picture books. The early books featured stills from the films, but later used original art. The text rarely followed the recording, as was the case with Disney’s later 7-inch book and record sets.
TV’s Mickey Mouse Club was in full flower when the first Storytellers were recorded, so some of the early LP’s in the series were narrated by Jimmie Dodd (Peter Pan), Darlene Gillespie (Alice in Wonderland) and Annette (Snow White).
The format of these storytellers was for the narration to provide continuity between songs and music edited from the Disneyland “WDL” and “DQ” series soundtrack albums.The exception was Peter Pan, which also featured dialogue. When some of these LP’s were revised for Ginny Tyler in 1960, for some reason her narration and the music did not overlap. Her words would stop for the music, and vice versa. Perhaps this was because the revised albums literally cut out the previous narration to save time and money. The extended dance section of “Silly Song” is also omitted.
Annette was still finding herself as an actress/singer on the Snow White album, just as she was on the TV show. She does a creditable job considering how new it was to her (though, like other Mouseketeers, she was getting announcing and narration experience from the TV show).
It is possible that Walt Disney’s affection for Annette—she was the only Mouseketeer he personally cast for the show—may have been the reason she was chosen to narrate Snow White. Her recording career was still in the future, but this was the same year she had scored a fan-requested single version of “How Will I Know My Love.” It sold over 100,000 copies just on the strength of its performance in the “Annette” serial on The Mickey Mouse Club.
GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
Snow White Narrated by Annette and Ginny Tyler
The scripts are virtually identical, though Tyler does not get that “shivery feeling” Annette does. Notice that the music and Tyler’s narration are independent of each other, while Annette speaks over the music.
Walt Disney Presents TUBBY THE TUBA and Other Songs for Children About Music
Narrated by Annette
Disneyland DQ-1287 (Mono / 12” LP)
CD Reissue: Wonderland Music on Demand (Disney Park CD-R)
Released in 1963. Executive Producer: Jimmy Johnson. Producer: Camarata. Tuba Sololist: John Thomas Johnson. Engineer: Bruce Botnick. Recorded at Sunset Sound, Hollywood. Running Time: 22 minutes.
Performers: Annette Funicello, Gloria Wood, Bill Lee, Thurl Ravenscroft, Jimmie Dodd.
Other Songs About Music: Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom,” “The Bird, The Cricket and the Willow Tree,” “Lemon Drop Moon,” “Sailing, Sailing,” “The Old Iron Horse,” Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie,” “Smile and Face the Music,” “Fun with Music.”
With several hit albums and three top ten singles behind her, as well as a burgeoning movie and TV career (she starred in Babes in Toyland and was a semi-regular on The Danny Thomas Show), Annette was gaining confidence in front of the camera and behind the microphone by 1963. Now a young adult, her performance of the classic children’s orchestral story is more mature and assured.
“Tubby the Tuba” was created and Paul Tripp a week after the attack on Pearl Harbor. It’s an odd piece for kids, as the main minor key melody is a bit dark and heavy. Admittedly, it is an ugly duckling story about a tuba that yearns for acceptance among the other instruments. Perhaps the musical inspiration was “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” Tripp was a well-known actor and TV personality in the baby boomer era, hosting shows like Birthday House and Mr. Imagination and playing roles on such programs as The Dick Van Dyke Show. Kleinsinger wrote for Broadway and concerts and according to the excellent Rudolph, Frosty and Captain Kangaroo: The Musical Life of Hecky Krasnow, was an eccentric whose house was like a jungle safari.
Musically, the Disneyland Records production is first rate, with a full orchestra making this a tip-top Tubby. This was not one of the Disneyland records of the ‘60s where the low budget was evident. But then, it’s only one side of the record.
Side two is lifted from previous Disneyland and Mickey Mouse Clubs records. One was 1961’s A Child’s Primer: Music, How It’s Made and Played (reissued as 1963’s A Child’s Introduction to Melody), an LP adapted from the animated shorts Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom and Adventures in Music: Melody. The Jimmie Dodd songs were heard on numerous Mickey Mouse Club albums and singles, originally performed as “Doddisms,” the little messages Dodd spoke to viewers at the end of MMC episodes.
GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Tubby The Tuba” Excerpt
There’s no question that, by the time of Tubby, Annette had come quite a way from her Snow White narration, yet retained her “regular person” delivery. Tutti Camarata probably directed her just as he did on her pop albums, helping her dial up her energy level as the orchestra reacts with a triumphant crescendo.