Tuesday, February 12, 2008

From the Mailroom: The Star of the Acorn Club

We are going to start visiting the Mailroom here at 2719 Hyperion on a regular basis. I've been wanting to showcase reader feedback and questions for sometime, so hopefully this will be the start of an ongoing feature.

First up, I piqued the curiosity of David Caffey when he was listening to a recent podcast:

Jeff – You just can’t toss out a name Clarice Chipmunk on WDW Radio without providing a little more info on 2719 – I’m now going acorns trying to find out more about her and see a picture. Hows about a short blog entry about this star of the Acorn Club (that’s all I could really find). Thanks for all you do!

Thanks for writing, David. Clarice, sadly, was a victim of the very era she was born into.

A new generation of characters began to emerge in Disney cartoons in 1950s. Humphrey Bear and Ranger Woodlore grew out of the Donald Duck shorts into adventures of their own, specifically In the Bag and Hooked Bear, both released in 1956. Chip 'n' Dale had also spun off into cartoons of their own, and it was in one of those efforts, Two Chips and a Miss from 1952, where we encounter the nightclub vamping Clarice in her one and only appearance. But unfortunately for all these then rising toon stars, within a few years, production of cartoon shorts would all but dissolve at Disney. Clarice was subsequently never brought back for a return engagement.

Two Chips and a Miss was an unusual outing for Chip and Dale. It was a rare instance where the two were rivals instead of partners. And for all her cuteness, Clarice was no innocent. She deliberately plays the boys against each other with competing invitations to meet her at the Acorn Club, and clearly takes pleasure when their rivalry later comes to blows. There can be little doubt that director Jack Hannah was taking inspiration from Tex Avery's Red Hot Riding Hood series of shorts at MGM. In fact, one very funny gag has the pair's heads morphing into wolf features that, in context to the setting, bears a direct connection to Avery's "Wolfie" character from the Red shorts.

Despite her one night stand in cartoon history, Clarice lives anew, albeit just not in animated form. Her entertainment resume has recently earned her a spot as a walk around character at Disney's Hollywood Studios. She even sports her original Acorn Club costume.



Screenshots © Walt Disney Company

7 comments:

Tangaroa said...

That's *hilarious*. I had never seen the walkaround Clarice. They've really been digging around - I've seen some very random characters in the last few years. Wonder what's up?

David C said...

Thanks for the great info Jeff! I've noticed over the last few years that Chip and Dale seem to follow me everywhere I go at Walt Disney World. I see them in every park and in lots of the restaurants. The worst part is they seem to be chasing me for the sole purpose of giving me a hard time - they make fun of my shirt, try to eat my food, they try to steal my camera, sometimes they even try to steal my wife. I'm not quite sure what I did to attract their attention but the next time one of them starts to hassle me I'll just bring up Clarice and give them a taste of their own medicine!

ramapith said...

Where do we get the spelling "Clarice"?
She does make a number of appearances in the old Chip 'n' Dale comic book stories, but there it's always spelled "Clarisse."

Jeff Pepper said...

The spelling of "Clarice" comes straight out of "Two Chips and a Miss." She signs her name to notes to both Chip and Dale; an autographed picture bears the same spelling; her name also appears on her dressing room door at the Acorn Club.

FoxxFur said...

I love Clarice (or, as I call her, Chipette)! Any character who convinces as a sultry club babe who's also still a squeaky little chipmunk gets high marks in my book. :) Despite my complete lack of ability to remember it when writing about Three Caballeros (see my blog..), I think Two Chips and a Miss is a pretty great experiment that sadly died out.. the possibilities of extending Chip n' Dale into being real characters with holistic plots instead of just having them antagonizing whoever it is is pretty great. That's probably part of the reason I think of this short and Rescue Rangers in the same moment...

Anonymous said...

Well, since Clarice appears at Tokyo Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios Park (in Paris), I figured it was only a matter of time before she started to show up at the US Disney parks. Hmm. I wonder how Gadget (of "Rescue Rangers" fame) would feel about that?

ramapith said...

Re: on-screen spelling of Clarice's name... wow, I'm a chipmunk chump. Or some 1950s comics writers were (so at least I'm not alone!).