JazzTimes

UKULELE IKE SINGS AGAIN

A snap quiz from the Kollege of Musical Knowledge: Who introduced the timeless tune “Singin’ in the Rain” in a Hollywood musical? Gene Kelly in the eponymous 1952 movie, right? Wrong. “Singin’ in the Rain” was first performed on screen in The Hollywood Revue of 1929 by Ukulele Ike.

Here’s another one: Who sang “When You Wish Upon a Star”? You got this—Jiminy Cricket, in Disney’s 1940 animated feature Pinocchio.

One more:

The cow goes moo…

The cat meows…

The duck goes quack…

Easy, that’s from the mind-numbing viral YouTube phenomenon “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?).” But those lines appeared decades earlier in “You Are a Human Animal,” which aired on TV’s The Mickey Mouse Club back in 1955. The singer was Cliff Edwards.

The thing is, Ukulele Ike, Jiminy Cricket, and Cliff Edwards were one and the same person. He was a hugely famous entertainer who starred on Broadway, radio, films and TV. He sold over 70 million records, he made millions of dollars and spent every dime on plush hotel rooms, deluxe cars, and the alimony he had to pay to a trio of glitzy ex-wives. He was a ferocious alcoholic, a gambler and self-medicater. Forgotten now, he was a bona fide jazz man and one of the most gifted popular singers of all time.

Cliff Avon Edwards was born

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