Cliff Edwards

Active - 1929 - 1965  |   Born - Jun 14, 1895   |   Died - Jul 17, 1971   |   Genres - Western, Drama, Action, Comedy, Musical

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Biography by Hal Erickson

American entertainer Cliff Edwards, the son of a Hannibal, Missouri railroad worker, was born early enough to remember seeing Hannibal's own Mark Twain during the eminent author's many visits. Dropping out of school at 14, Edwards tackled several odd jobs before securing work singing for "illustrated slide" shows at the local movie house. He continued picking up small change as an itinerant singer until he teamed with pianist Bobby Carleton; together Edwards and Carleton penned a popular song, "Ja Da," made even more popular by Edwards' scat-singing rendition. While performing at a Chicago cafe, Edwards was given the lasting soubriquet "Ukelele Ike," in honor of Edward's musical instrument of choice. A top recording artist of the late '20s, Edwards--or Ike--made an easy transition to talking pictures; it was he who introduced the tune "Singin' in the Rain" in MGM's Hollywood Revue of 1929. A few Buster Keaton comedies aside, few of Edwards' early movie appearances were as memorable as this one, though he was an efficient comedy relief in several westerns and a popular radio performer. Edwards' latter-day fame rests on his vocal portrayal of Jiminy Cricket in the Disney cartoon feature Pinocchio (1940), a role he'd repeat in theatrical cartoons and on TV's Mickey Mouse Club and Disneyland.

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