Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Happy 115th Birthday to The Professor - Jerry Colonna!

One of the 20th century comedy greats, in the cartoon voice world, radio, movies and television was trombonist, vocalist and songwriter Jerry Colonna.

A mainstay of Bob Hope's popular radio show, veteran of numerous USO shows, and later a guest on The Bob Hope Chevy Show, The Colgate Comedy Hour and other television programs, Jerry was born Gerardo Luigi Colonna on September 17, 1904.

Jerry's claims to pop culture immortality include stints playing with the Joe Herlihy Orchestra, as well as the Columbia Symphony Orchestra, which at one point was led by bandleader/composer Raymond Scott. In the following clip, Jerry follows then-crooner John Payne (a decade before his starring roles in film noir) and the boys in the band.

He recorded with Scott's Quintette, and appeared on radio with Fred Allen, Bing Crosby (as a trombonist with John Scott Trotter's group) and Bob Hope. As a cast member on Hope's NBC radio show, Jerry delivered catchphrases, zingers and ultra-wacky musicality to spare.

The ultimate tribute was paid by the animators at Warner Brothers, who not only caricatured Jerry frequently, but even gave him his own cartoon, directed by Friz Freleng.

Jerry would continue co-starring with Hope on such movies as Road to Rio, Road to Singapore, Road to Utopia and The Road to Hong Kong. He also appeared in Rosalie Little Miss Broadway, It's in the Bag, Andy Hardy Comes Home and many Bob Hope TV specials.

This was not unnoticed in the showbiz world and led to Colonna's work as a cartoon voice artist at Disney.

For more, read the splendid article Devon Baxter wrote about Jerry for the Cartoon Research website.

No comments: