ANIMATION SPIN
October 21, 2014 posted by Greg Ehrbar

Annette Tells the Story of “Snow White”

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.

SnowWhite-1957-600

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)

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.

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click to enlarge

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.

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.

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click to enlarge

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.


TubbyAF-600

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.

14 Comments

  • The excerpts were well chosen, to demonstrate not only the contrast between Annette’s delivery and that of Ginny Tyler, but also the contrast between the very young Annette and her more confident older self.

    Annette was always very candid about her limited acting ability. Unfortunately, although she had a sweet and winning personality, her ability to read a line generally left much to be desired. It seems to me that her natural winning appeal was what carried her through her acting career.

    There is a freshness and sort of rawness about the Snow White recording, where the Tubby recording shows her development as far as putting drama into her voice. She had matured considerably in the short years between.

    Ginny Tyler’s version is more assured and carries much more acting strength, although I greatly enjoy the Annette version. One thing about the Ginny version is that there is no musical finale. It always sounded sort of abrupt just to end the story without any music, when the music has been so prominently featured in the rest of the album. It might also be worth noting that the Disneyland Records script did not focus much on the dwarfs. The only one that I recall gets mentioned by name is Grumpy.

    Maybe some day you can discuss the “Magic Mirror” covers on the Disneyland Records of the early 60’s? I only had one (the Snow White one) before they started getting replaced by more standard covers, but they always intrigued me.

    Thanks for another great post!

  • I look forward to Animation Spin every week. This post about the Annette record reminds me of a Disney record collection I had back in the late 50s, that came with a special record player that looked like a TV set. If I remember correctly, the tone arm had an old style foil speaker just above the needle. The walls around the turntable were metal and the “TV screen” was cut out. Each record featured a classic Disney story (i.e. Snow White, Bambi, Peter Pan, etc.) with narration and music. I think the records were the size of a 45 rpm, but had a speed of 78 rpms. Also, each record came with a paper roll with full color pictures printed on it. The roll would be threaded from a feed spindle on one side of the “TV screen” opening to a take-up spindle on the other side. As the record played, the picture roll would slowly pull past the opening to reveal a scene from the movie that was synchronized with what was going on in the recording. These picture rolls didn’t last long, since they tore easily, but the records could be played on any record player. Of course, this has been over 50 years ago and my memory might be a little sketchy on some of the details. In a way, that Disney player was the first “home video” that I ever had.

  • THANK you, for doing an Annette article for those of use who genuflect at the very alter of Annette (if such a thing could BE imagined.).

    Those were the closest that she got to doing “voice work”-her own, even if they weren’t animation (after all, everyone in cartoon voices were in the radio and records–if Annette did any Disney cartoon voices, they’re extremely rare-Hayley Mills did voices, for animaiton as well as Disney records, but not for Disney..)

    • The adult Mills did an World of Disney episode about animation; a framing story had her visiting the studio to audition for the voice of the girl in “The Black Cauldron”. Since the film had to be near completion by then, it seemed a bizarre idea to suggest Mills was up for a part that had already been cast, recorded and probably animated.

  • Should also mention “Tubby the Tuba” was the subject of a 1947 Puppetoon and a 1975 animated feature.

  • Frederick — Thanks for another great comment!

    Paul – I was thinking Show ‘N Tell until you mentioned paper rolls. Don’t know what item that was, but I would love to search for some of the records.

    Steve – the only Annette animation I can think of is the title sequence for MERLIN JONES, but it’s too bad that she never did even a quick voice for an animated feature. Hayley Mills did a nice job as The Little Mermaid in Rankin/Bass’s THE DAYDREAMER. And yes, Annette is a goddess — as well as the Queen of Walt Disney World (see the link in the post).

    I look forward to all your comments every week. They’re thoughtful, insightful and I’m always learning something new. Thanks!

    • Paul – I was thinking Show ‘N Tell until you mentioned paper rolls. Don’t know what item that was, but I would love to search for some of the records.

      I still have one of those Show ‘N Tell units and some records myself!

    • I did a little googling and found it. It was called a Mouseketeer TV Story Teller. Here are some photos:
      http://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/9211843

  • Great stuff Greg! I’m sure you have tons of future recordings to share already, but I second the “Magic Mirror” series motion. I had all of them as a kid (still do somewhere in the record cabinet). The one odd one was “Cinderella” as I recall – the first side was told by Cliff Edwards as Jiminy Cricket, and the final side was Ginny Taylor as the Fairy Godmother(?). Edwards narration on the “Pinocchio” album was superb.

    • That happened sometimes, Andy. I have an Alice storyteller with Darlene on one side and Ginny Tyler on the other. I even had a cast album of Annie upon which side two was a disco album!

  • Great stuff Greg and all! “Tubby the Tuba”, “Fun with Music”, Captain Kangaroo “Nutcracker Suite”, and “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” by Robert Lewis Stevenson were gifts from Santa back in 1958. My very first records and record player. Wonderful Records which were listened to over and over. My family was fortunate to meet Ginny Tyler and it was wonderful to be able to put a face to the name. We agreed that her character voices like Witch Hazel represented her best work. We agreed that most of the narrations by Annette, Darlene, Jimmy, Shirley Temple’s “Bambi”, and Sterling Holloway came off better for some unexplainable reason. I’m curious if anyone knows, off the top of their head, how many narrations were done for “Perry The Squirrel”? I think there were 3 or 4 counting the Walt Disney Presents shows.

    • I’ve only heard Jimmie Dodd’s narration of PERRI. Here’s some trivia: The actor Peri Gilpin, who played Roz on FRASIER, was named Peri by her mom after the Disney squirrel.

  • Great post, Greg. I’m just getting around to reading this. If you ever do a LEGACY COLLECTION soundtrack set for “SNOW WHITE”, perhaps, Annette’s storyteller platter could be slipped in there as an extra disk in the set?

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