Jimmie Dodd Meets Private Snuffy Smith

Welcome to another installment of ‘Where On Earth Did You Find This‘ on Disney Nouns! The blog that seeks to share the most obscure Disney references imaginable.

Case in point:

This is a 1942 American film directed by Edward F. Cline and starring Bud Duncan as Snuffy Smith. It was actually a comic strip made into a movie, and done quite well, I might add.

Synopsis: Inspired by and envious of the $21 a month and free khaki britches and gold buttons of his friend Don Elbie (our man Jimmie Dodd), Snuffy Smith joins the US Army with his dog, Mr. Carson, concealed by an invisibility potion. As fate would have it, his company First Sergeant is Ed Cooper, a former revenuer who had unsuccessfully attempted to locate and destroy Snuffy’s still.

The clever Don Elbie (yup, Jimmie Dodd) has invented a new rangefinder that he hopes to have adopted by the army. General Rosewater hopes to test the new rangefinder in war games with a rival general. A pair of Fifth columnists hope to steal the rangefinder but are defeated by Snuffy’s wife Lowizie, Snuffy’s invisible dog and his hillbilly neighbours.

Sounds sane enough. And here is what the title cards have to say about Jimmie Dodd:

  Jimmie Dodd 3

Jimmie Dodd actually cares for the only three tunes in the film:

Times a-Wastin, which is Snuffy Smith’s battle cry, was written by four men but sung by Dodd.

The Yard Bird, which referred to the Smith character once inducted, was written and performed by Dodd.

I Don’t Know What To Do Blues was also written and performed by Dodd.

Now here are some stills of Jimmie Dodd as Don Elbie from the film:

     Jimmie Dodd 5    

Jimmie Dodd 7         

Keep in mind that this film was released in 1942, so it is a full 13 years before Dodd became the leader of the Mouseketeers. But we can see that he was already a musical player and songwriter. It was nice to find him in such a substantial role!

Jimmie Dodd 9

 Jimmie Dodd (March 28, 1910 – November 10, 1964)

Dodd did many turns in the movies before linking up with Disney, usually uncredited, but Private Snuffy Smith is seldom mentioned.

Mouseketeer Bobby Burgess on the Lawrence Welk Show

And here we have yet another Disney reference popping up on television. We all remember the Merry Marching Mouseketeers with everyone’s favorite female performer, Annette. But who was your favorite male performer?

Perhaps it was Robert Wilkie “Bobby” Burgess (born May 19, 1941), who was one of only nine Mouseketeers who stayed for the entire run of the show:

Later he would continue his dancing career on the long-running Lawrence Welk Show. Here he is as he appeared in a LW clip show some time after the original run was completed:

And here he is with his full-time dance partner on the original LW show:

     Bobby Mouseketeer Welk 012

With so many of the original Mouseketeers ending their careers after the Club disbanded, and others falling into trouble, it is so nice to know that some were able to go on to continued success, both as people, and performers!

Book Review: The Mickey Mouse Club Scrapbook – SSE

M – I – C (“See what’s in this post!”)

K – E – Y (“Why? Because I need the blog traffic!”)

P – L – U – G – Geeeeeeeeee!

OK, that last line had one too many capital Gs (and lots of cute little e’s), but I had to make it match the famous chant. The Mickey Mouse Club started in 1955 with many of the original Mouseketeers being on board before Disneyland was actually opened. So it was a natural cross-promotional move to have them present at the parks grand opening.

And of course, the merchandise wasn’t far behind their own television debut!

Copyrighted 1975

The original Mickey Mouse Club was long off the air by the time this Special Souvenir Edition was sold for just $2.50 (I had to pay $4.95 in 2015 at an antique shop). This may have been an attempt to restore interest in the Club before the 1977 debut of the New Mickey Mouse Club. For the new show, the concept was modernized cosmetically, with a disco re-recording of the theme song and a more ethnically diverse group of young cast members. The sets were brightly colored and simpler than the detailed black and white artwork of the original. Like the original, nearly each day’s episode included a vintage cartoon, though usually in color from the late 1930s and onward.

According to the back cover, this book was intended to be a Where-Are-They-Now expose. The book starts with acknowledgments, and an introduction of what the original club was:

It has audition photos and stories for each of the original cast members:

It then gives a review of the show segments, as follows:

  • Monday: Fun With Music Day. Mickey says – “Big doings this week!”
  • Tuesday: Guest Star Day. Mickey says – “Everybody neat and pretty?”
  • Wednesday: Anything Can Happen Day. Mickey says – “Anything goes.”
  • Thursday: Circus Day. Mickey… stammers?
  • Friday: Talent Roundup Day. Mickey says – “You all pretty nigh ready?”

Next to be featured are the serials. These include:

  • White Shadow (1955)
  • The Hardy Boys (1956)
  • Clint and Mac (1957)
  • Annette (1957)
  • The Adventures of Spin and Marty (1956-7)

What comes next is very cool:

Three more songs are featured with music sheets: Anything Can Happen Day; Here Comes the Circus!; and Talent Roundup.

Why not sing along, or better yet, sit down at your piano and play along!

Next comes The Mouseketeers Today, a great section with a head shot of the subject all grown up along with a brief blurb about their life today.

There were also 7 original Club members that the compilers of this book couldn’t find at the time of publishing:

Unfortunately, Jimmie Dodd passed away many years ago (1910-1964) but you can read all about this beautiful person at OriginalMMC.com by clicking the link.

All in all this is a wonderful keepsake with much insider information about everyone’s favorite mice!

To conclude, I just couldn’t end this post without publishing pictures of the other three song sheets included in the book. I apologize for the poor color quality in advance, but you can still enlarge them to read the lyrics or play along on your instruments:

This book was compiled by Keith Keller and published by Grosset & Dunlap of New York.

I would give this book a 5 out of 5 stars for being so full of nostalgia! Any fan of the show, Annette, or early Disney lore will love it!

Top 5 Mistakes Walt Disney & Company have Made

Did Walt Disney ever make a mistake? The answer is a resounding ‘Yes’, but then, who wouldn’t have when taking so many risks to create great entertainment?

So what follows is a list of some of those mistakes, or lost opportunities:

Oopsy Number 1

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. The character was a hit. The deal was a dud. Walt failed to retain the rights to a character that his studio created from scratch and so had it taken away from him, along with most of his studio! But never one to stay down, Walt learned from his mistake, and vowed never to repeat it. And with the creation of Mickey Mouse, he built an empire all his own that no one ever took from him! So who had the last laugh, Mr. Mintz?

Of course, long after Walt’s passing, Oswald returned to the Disney family! Last laugh: Disney.

Oopsy Number 2

The Animator’s Strike. May 29, 1941. A day that will live in Disney infamy and that would forever change how Walt interacted with his staff. Said to be over wages and credit, there is obviously more to the story than we will ever know! Would things have turned out differently if Walt had stayed to negotiate instead of heading for South America to gather material for future features? We’ll never know. What we do know is during the strike, Walt called the strikers ‘Communists’ and they burned him in effigy. Yikes!

Following the strike, irreparable damage to the psychology and mood of the studio had been done. Before the strike, the number of employees had been about 1200, but after it ended, it was reduced to 694. One letter of the period quotes Walt as saying, about the strike, that “it cleaned house at our studio” and got rid of “the chip-on-the-shoulder boys and the world-owes-me-a-living lads”. Ouch.

It’s a shame this couldn’t have ended better.

Oopsy Number 3

Doreen as the Patchwork Girl and Bobby as the Scarecrow

Rainbow Road to OZ. Walt had always loved the stories of OZ and eventually bought the rights to the books. He planned to make an animated film but then later decided to do a live-action version using the talented kids from the Mouseketeers. You can see a short clip of what it may have looked like on the Walt Disney Treasures collection entitled Your Host, Walt Disney.

This would have been a great vehicle for the Mouseketeers and a way to thank them for all of their hard work. Also, it would have made a fine companion to movies like Babes in Toyland, also starring a (by then) former Mouseketeer: Annette Funicello.

It may have taken until 2013 to pull it off, but Disney did finally realize Walt’s dream and put Oz on the screen with the major motion picture Oz, the Great and Powerful.

Oopsy Number 4

Zorro/Mickey Mouse Club. Why? That’s all I can say about the cancellation of two of the best and most popular, not to mention watched, programs in Disney history. WHY? The short answer is that Walt got into a bitter series of legal challenges with ABC over the ownership of both series. Unable to come to terms, it was decided to pull both shows from the air. With high ratings and viewer loyalty at all time highs, I think there must have been some way to resolve the dispute. This lost opportunity cost us perhaps years of quality entertainment.

Oopsy Number 5

Not hiring Lee Beatens. OK, I was only about 1-year-old when Walt passed, but that’s no excuse for overlooking great talent!

Bonus Round

Disney’s California Adventure. Not Walt’s fault, but certainly a swing and a miss by the company that bears his name! The concept of a theme park dedicated to California arose from a meeting of Disney executives in 1995. Construction of the park began in 1998, and was completed by early 2001. But the crowds never really came. After all, who’d want to fly to California and pay to enter a Theme Park about… California? Why not just… oh, I don’t know, tour the real California? The other problem that I can see was that the Imagineers filled it with rides that were reminiscent of the rides that Walt rejected for Disneyland! Epic fail.

But now with the re-Imagineering of the Park and the addition of Carsland, it’s finally on the right track, and attendance figures show it.

Disney PhotoPass Stock Photo

So we’ve seen that not all of these mistakes, or lost opportunities, were fixable. But most of them were addressed in some way years later, with a nice resolution.