A weekly web log in Dutch and English to share my passion for jazz, jazz-related music, record collecting and other music projects that surprise me. | Een wekelijkse weblog in het Engels en het Nederlands waarin ik mijn passie voor jazz, jazz-verwante muziek, platenverzamelen en verrassende projecten met anderen wil delen.
Cliff Edwards (1895 – 1971), also known as "Ukelele Ike", was an American singer and musician who enjoyed considerable popularity in the 1920s and early 1930s, and also did voices for animated cartoons later in his career.
Clifton A. Edwards was born in Hannibal, Missouri. He left school at age 14 and soon after moved to St. Louis, where he entertained as a singer in saloons. Edwards taught himself to play ukulele to serve as his own accompanist. He got the nickname "Ukelele Ike" from a club owner who couldn't remember his name. Edwards played on Vaudeville circuits. He made his first big hit in 1918 at a cafe club in Chicago, where he introduced a tune by the club's pianist, Bob Carleton, "Ja Da". The tune, Edwards, and Carleton made a hit. After this Edwards was hired as part of an act, which played at The Palace in New York, the most prestigious theater in Vaudeville, and then in the 'Ziegfeld Follies'.
Edwards made his first phonograph records in 1919. He recorded early examples of jazz scat singing in 1922. The following year he was signed to a contract with Pathé Records. He became one of the most popular singers of the decade, during which he also appeared in several Broadway shows.
Listen to samples of Edwards' recordings, click here
After performing in some short films, Edwards was one of the stars in the movie feature 'Hollywood Revue of 1929', doing some comic bits and singing some numbers, including giving the film debut of his hit "Singin' in the Rain". He would make a total of 33 films for MGM through 1933.
Edwards' voice was featured in Walt Disney's 'Pinocchio' as the character Jiminy Cricket (1940). In the 1950s and early 1960s he made a number of appearances on the Mickey Mouse Club television show, in addition to reprising his Jiminy Cricket voice for various Disney shorts.
Edwards was broke in his later years, living in a home for indigent actors. He had disappeared from the public eye at the time of his death as a charity patient at a hospital in Hollywood. His body was initially unclaimed and donated to the University of California, but when Walt Disney Productions found out about this, they purchased the corpse and paid for burial.
I found a scene from the 1935 MGM short "Starlit days at the Lido" featuring Edwards singing and playing, audio quality not the best, unfortunately
To end this small profile of Cliff Edwards, enjoy his rendition of "It's Only a Paper Moon" for Brunswick, 1933