The Life and Career of Cliff Edwards or Ukelele Ike Pinocchio

Topics: Film Analysis

It was the beginning of the year 1940, February 23 to be exact, Families were lining up outside movie theaters to see Walt Disney’s newest release, Pinocchio. People loved the little wooden boy, and they loved his companion too, Jiminy Cricket. Jiminy Cricket was Pinocchio’s conscience, and he taught him life lessons. He was one of the comedic elements within the story and has since been considered as important of a Disney icon as the famous Mickey Mouse is While everyone knows who Jiminy Cricket is, not many know the voice behind the animations.

Cliff Edwards, or Ukulele Ike, his stage name, Ukulele Ike was a famous jazz musician in the 19205, supplying the American people with hit songs like “Blame it on the Ukulele” and “Alabamy Bound.” He was well-known for taking pop standards and novelty tunes and putting a jazzy spin on it. He scored a spot on the billboards with his number—one hit “Singin’ in the Rain” in 1929 and, although his most well-known role in the animation business was Jiminy Cricket, he worked with.

Walt Disney on a number of roles, and he also starred in person in several movies; one documentary on him states he had over a hundred roles in the movie business (YouTube), He was born on June 14‘”, 1895 in Hannibal, Missouri, the same place Mark Twain was born in. And while Twain’s presence is littered all over Hannibal, there is no memory of Cliff Edwards anywhere, which is odd considering he is the second most famous man to come out of the town.

Get quality help now
Dr. Karlyna PhD

Proficient in: Film Analysis

4.7 (235)

“ Amazing writer! I am really satisfied with her work. An excellent price as well. ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

Cliff never finished school, dropping out in the eighth-grade and leaving home at age fourteen to move to St. Louis, where he began a career as a singer in saloons. It was there that he taught himself to play the ukulele.

He had chosen the ukulele because it was the cheapest instrument in the music shop, and being fourteen on his own he didn’t have much money to afford anything else. He earned the now famous stage name of “Ukulele Ike” when a club owner began to call him that, but ironically enough the nickname started because the owner could never remember Cliff’s name. Under that name, in 1918 he traveled to Chicago, Illinois to perform “Ja-Da”, a song written by the club’s pianist, Bob Carleton. The song quickly became a hit under the vaudeville circuit, which was insanely popular at the time. This was a huge break for Cliff vaudeville headliner Joe Frisco reached out the him after the release of this song to offer him a job

. Cliff accepted and was hired as part of Frisco’s act in New York City at the most prestigious vaudeville theater of the time A year later, he made his first phonograph records, and a few years later he was signed by Pathe Records, a France» based international record label and major producer of phonograph records. He was then recognized world-wide as one of the most popular singers of the decade. He even appeared in several Broadway shows. He is known as the performer responsible for the popularity of the ukulele, inspiring his listeners to go out and buy their own ukes. Not only did he have an outstanding and extremely lucky career as an American recording artist, he also had a career in film, radio, and television.

He was hired to appear in the early sound movies and several short films, He was featured in the Hollywood Revue of1929 where he paid tribute to his earlier love for vaudeville and debuted the film for his number-one hit. He appeared in thirty-three films for the film company Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was around the time that he entered the film career that his drug addiction began. In 1930 he appeared in Doughboys, a film where him and Buster Keaton casually performed a song called “You Never Did That Before” in the style of scat-singing, which was widely popular at the time Buster himself had been battling a drinking problem, and his problem along with Cliff’s drug addiction where apparent in Doughboys.

This led to Cliff ultimately being replaced in Keaton‘s films. in the 19405, he was very interested in western films, being cast by Warner Brothers and RKO Radio Pictures. And, if you’re familiar with Gone with the Wind, he voiced a Confederate soldier who was dying off-screen. However, his most famous role was definitely Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio. He also was cast in a few other Disney films, working side-by-side with Walt Disney a few times. He even had his own television show, The CliffEdwards Show Many vaudeville stars were the first to arrive on the silver screen in family homes in the late-19405. He was on air three days a week during the evenings on the CBS channel. Throughout 1950 and the early 19605 he was featured on The Mickey Mouse Club, which still airs to this day, although under a different name with many tweaks made to the show’s format Although he led a very famous life within the musical and film industries, for some reason he is not well-known anymore.

This could possibly be due to his carelessness with his money and his drug addiction. The money he made in 19205 did not last him long because he was trying to live an expensive lifestyle with expensive habitsi and even though he found work during the Great Depression, he never made the same money he made in ‘205. He had three wives that he had to pay alimony to, resulting in his declaring bankruptcy around four times, None of his marriages lasted a decade. He was often seen hanging around the Walt Disney Studios so that he was always available for work. He was a heavy drinker and heavy smoker, but those aren’t the things that killed him.

He died of cardiac arrest in 1971 on July 17‘“, shortly after his 76m birthday. He died penniless and a charity patient at the Virgil Convalescent Hospital in Hollywood, California. His body was unclaimed and the donated the UCLA medical schooli During the time, Walt Disney Productions had been paying most of his medical expenses, and they offered to buy the body back and pay for the burial although the Actors’ Fund of America ultimately received the honori In conclusion, Ukulele lke is most known for his time spent on vaudeville, his voice acting as Jiminy Cricket, and his own television show However, no one knows much about his anymore, not even the citizens of his hometown. It’s a shame how such a talented artist can get into drugs and end up a charity patient in a hospital. There’s a rumor that his head is also carcinogenically frozen alongside Walt Disney’s, but most people have now accepted that as a lie because you can find his grave marker, paid for by Disney, at Valhalla Memorial Park. He died a Disney legend, and his legacy can still be admired through Jiminy Cricket.

Cite this page

The Life and Career of Cliff Edwards or Ukelele Ike Pinocchio. (2023, Jan 07). Retrieved from

Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7