Wowsa! This has been a month of birthdays here on Phantom Empires! Basil Rathbone, William Boyd, Pol Plançon (HERE), Arthur Conan Doyle, Manly Wade Wellman (HERE & HERE)...so many incredible artists! Well, today is also the birthday of another great character, in the form of the amazing actor/singer Cliff Edwards, also known as Ukulele Ike!
Known to film fans primarily for his most famous character, the melodious insect Jiminy Cricket, Edwards was also known worldwide throughout the 1920's & 30's as a jazzy, Ukulele-strumming singer. He recorded charming pop songs prolifically, either as a solo performer or with his "jazz" group, the Hot Combination. His voice was so mellow and comfortable; listening to him is like a favourite uncle telling stories by a warm campfire.
The movie studios apparently saw this charm, and thus cast him in a slew of B-reel movies, primarily westerns. Edwards made a fantastic sidekick. He spent lots of time at the side of Tim Holt in the singing buddy role, but also to such cowboy stalwarts as Richard Dix, Charles Starrett, and Russell Hayden. Some titles include: Pirates of the Prairie, Lawless Plainsmen, Sagebrush Law, Thunder Over the Prairie, Red River Robin Hood, Overland to Deadwood, and many more such titles, evocative of both the classic B-reel wild west, and a bag of popcorn at a Saturday matinee!
Here's the man himself, singing himself a tune for his birthday, in colourful singing cowboy style...but with a western swing twist!