Monday, September 27, 2010

September 27: A Musical Cartoon Feature

On this day in 1947, RKO Radio Pictures released Walt Disney's Fun and Fancy Free. The animated film features two segments: "Bongo," the story of a circus bear cub who runs away, and "Mickey and the Beanstalk," an adaptation of the famous tale Jack and the Beanstalk.

The film opens with Jiminy Cricket (first introduced in Disney's 1940 Pinocchio) singing "I'm a Happy-Go-Lucky Fellow" while setting up a record player to play the story of "Bongo." In the original version of Fun and Fancy Free, singer Dinah Shore narrates "Bongo" - yet in later versions it is Cliff Edwards (the voice of Jiminy Cricket) who tells the story. "Bongo" is based on an original story by Sinclair Lewis (an American novelist and short-story writer) first titled "Little Bear Bongo."

The second segment, "Mickey and the Beanstalk" is narrated by Edgar Bergen (at the time a popular radio ventriloquist) who in live-action sequences tells the story to child actress Luana Patten (who made her debut the previous year in Disney's Song of the South). In this story, Mickey's voice is supplied by both Walt Disney and sound effects genius Jim Macdonald (who would later take over the role of Mickey until 1977). "Mickey and the Beanstalk" also features the voices of Clarence Nash (as Donald Duck) and Pinto Colvig (as Goofy).

The directing animators who worked on Fun and Fancy Free includes such great names in Disney history as Ward Kimball, Les Clark, John Lounsbery, Fred Moore, and Woolie Reitherman.

These two segments aired many times as individual television episodes on Disney's anthology series - but it wasn't until 2000 that Fun and Fancy Free was released in its entirety to VHS and DVD.

Click HERE for much more September 27 Disney history.

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