Friday, January 28, 2011

Cliff Edwards

In 2004, around the time I began re-writing my book about early television (when originally completed, in 1984, it did not reach publication), I made a trip to Washington, DC, to the Library of Congress.

The Library had, available for viewing, two kinescopes of Kay Kyser’s 1949-1950 NBC-TV show.  (There were one or two other telecasts of the program in the Library's collection, yet they had not been transferred to videotape.)

One kinescope I watched was incomplete—it was the first half of the program’s debut broadcast, in December of 1949. The second was a full program, from November of 1950.

In the November, 1950 broadcast, several guest stars appeared. They included Bob Hope, singer Carlos Ramirez, comedian Carl Ballantine, and Cliff Edwards; Edwards made a brief cameo/walk-on appearance.

Cliff Edwards, who was also known as “Ukulele Ike,“ was for years a hugely popular performer—on radio, records, and in films.  In 1949, he had a three-times-a-week television show on CBS.

Edwards, who died in 1971, is no doubt best remembered, today, for providing the voice of Jiminy Cricket, in the 1940 Walt Disney film Pinocchio. He sang the movie’s famous song, “When You Wish Upon a Star.”

Here are two YouTube recordings of Edwards singing the song.

The first recording is from the Pinocchio soundtrack. His vocal on the record (which includes his striking and lovely falsetto) is gentle, moving, and beautiful.

I do not know the date of the second recording, but it is also very beautiful.

(Photo above:  Cliff Edwards)