In fact, ’tis said that, at some theaters, the Pigs were held over for so long that somebody would draw beards on the characters in the poster, to illustrate how long the thing had been playing.
So it makes sense that Tin Pan Alley composers would try to write songs that tried to cash in–even if these songs had no connection with Disney proper.
While many–if not all–of the songs about which I’ve written in previous Posts have had direct connection with Disney, or its assigns in foreign lands, there were some that did not have that connection.
“The Three Little Pigs” spawned two such songs–one of which we may never hear.
In 1933 and 1934, Harry Sosnik led a large orchestra at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago. During those years, he recorded several selections for Victor.
Most were duly issued, and sold about as well as anything that Victor released at the time: not very well at all. (Remember that the Depression was still weighing down upon all of us, and a lot of folks didn’t have the six bits it cost to buy a Victor popular record.)
One side, however, remained “in the can”, and has not seen the light of day since. “The Three Little Pigs Are Pork Chops Now” was a message that the folks at Disney might not have wanted to see on record, or hear on the air.
Yet two established Tin Pan Alley scriveners were responsible for this song. Benny Davis–best known for “Baby Face” (1926)–wrote the lyrics, while James F. Hanley, with a long string of hit songs and hit Broadway shows behind him, composed the melody.
Surely it was copyrighted. And we know that, on May 1, 1934, Harry Sosnik’s orchestra recorded it,with vocal refrain by Adele Girard (who would become known in later years as a jazz harpist) and he Campus Trio. But, unless somebody shows up with the sheet music, or with a test pressing of the recording, we’ll never know the circumstances as to why Fiddler, Fifer and Practical became pork chops.
More successful was a song that suggested a final fate for the Big Bad Wolf–who had become as much a public personage as the Pigs themselves.
During the spring of 1934, the team of (Bert) Wheeler and (Robert) Woolsey were working on their latest RKO feature, Cockeyed Cavaliers. RKO liked to pub light musical numbers–usually one or two per film–into the Wheeler and Woolsey pictures. Thus it was with the new picture, Cockeyed Cavaliers.
The film had two sons, both written by Val Burton (lyrics) and Will Jason (music)–two Tin Pan Alley guys who had come up with the very healthy “Penthouse Serenade (When We’re Alone)” a couple of years earlier. (That song is heard over the titles, and in the body of, Betty Boop’s Penthouse, about which I’ve written in a previous Post.)
The song in question is “(I Went Hunting) And The Big Bad Wolf Was Dead”, a “rhythm number” (to use the parlance of the time).
And this song got moderately covered–but not universally so. Brunswick had the only full-priced version, performed by Ted Fio Rito and his orchestra. The regular vocalist with this band, Muzzy Marcellino, takes vocal here. Two other versions were offered at cut prices.
Although Victor didn’t bother with the song on their full-priced label, their cheaper Bluebird label had a version by Anthony Trini and his Village Ban Orchestra-a small orchestra that played at the (Greenwich) Village Barn for several years. Beth Challis–a vaudeville-type shouter–sings the refrain.
And the American Record Company’s “dime store” labels had a version by Joe Haymes and his orchestra.
Haymes led several orchestras between 1932 and 1937, and his dis are usually of some collector’s interest as a sort of “pre-swing” band, swinging it out in the days before Benny Goodman became big. Haymes would put together a band full of young talent, and then watch as other leaders came along and stole his precious bundles away from him. (Tommy Dorsey pinched the entire band when he started his own band in 1935, for example.)
Haymes’ recording features Clifford Wetterau–who soon decided to work under the less-ethnic-sounding name of “Cliff Weston”. Wetterau is joined by those members of the Band who cold carry a tune.
Next: Who Played Cock Robin?