Friday, February 14, 2014

Run right out and buy this DVD for one reason!

I am delighted to see that the Walt Dizzy Co. has released "The Jungle Book," their 1967 animation version of the Rudyard Kipling stories in which animals act like humans, only better, to serve to teach lessons to kids.

Not that I have seen the movie ever, or plan to, but I am thrilled because this will give the young people in my life their first chance to experience the talent of Phil Harris.  And by Phil Harris, I mean the entertainer born Wonga Phillip Harris in Indiana in 1904, not the fisherman who shared his name.  (Phil's first name "Wonga" was a tribute his vaudeville-performer parents paid to a native American by that name whom they knew and liked.)

Phil voiced the part of Baloo the Bear in the Jungle Book and was tickled to have children come up to him and recognize his distinctive Southern hepcat vocalizing.  Here is his song "Bare Necessities"  - notice how cool, and how much it sounds like his dozens of hit records from decades earlier, songs like "Smoke, Smoke that Cigarette," "Up A Lazy River," "Stars Fell on Alabama," "Row, Row, Row," "Is It True What They Say About Dixie," and his biggest hit, "That's What I Like About the South."  Phil also played in "The Aristocats" as the cat Thomas O'Malley and starred again as Little John in the animated movie "Robin Hood."

Alice and Phil

Starting as the 12-year old drummer in a circus band, Phil became a bandleader, a comedy performer, a featured performer and bandleader on the Jack Benny radio show and his own show with his wife Alice Faye, an actress and singer in her own right.  The Harris character was a vain, overbearing, error-prone guy who always had to be rescued from his nutty plans and plots by the lovely Alice, while in real life, Phil was known to be modest and self-effacing.  Isn't that always the way?  

Tell you what - why not take some time to check him out on You Tube in his various incarnations on radio, records, tv and movies.  Phil passed in 1995, but we can still enjoy his talent. 

And if your kids love chanting nutty songs, let them listen to "The Thing" - his novelty hit from 1950 - and they'll be "Dum de Dum"-ing all over the house for days!

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