Monday, February 02, 2009

Who's Who in Mother Goose Goes Hollywood

As a companion post to Going Hollywood With Mother Goose, we hereby present a guide to the celebrities and popular culture represented in the Silly Symphony cartoon, Mother Goose Goes Hollywood.

The short opens with a direct parody of the MGM roaring lion logo. While it comically features a roaring Mother Goose, what it notable is the take-off on MGM's slogan,"Ars Gratia Artis," or translated, "Art for Arts Sake." The Mother Goose logo features the pig latin phrase "ERTZNAY TO OUYAY," roughly translated, "Nertz to You!" or "Nuts to You!" This is quite likely a not-so-subtle dig at the Hays Office, the industry-created watchdog organization headed by Will H. Hays that constantly dogged Hollywood studios to adhere its code of morals and standards when producing their films. The Hays Office considered the phrase "Nuts to You!" to be offensive and frequently demanded (although often unsuccessfully) for it to be removed from scripts and films.

Katherine Hepburn is the first star to been seen in the cartoon. She is cast in the role of Little Bo Peep and spends the entire cartoon in search of her sheep.

The Old King Cole sequence features Hugh Herbert as the king and Ned Sparks as his jester. Comic actor Joe Penner arrives and presents Herbert with a not quite cooked duck--Donald Duck that is. Penner's signature line throughout much of his career was "Wanna buy a duck?"

Groucho, Harpo and Chico Marx are the Fiddlers Three.

Charles Laughton, Spencer Tracy and Freddie Bartholomew are represented in Rub-a-Dub-Dub, Three Men in a Tub. Laughton is seen in his role of Captain Bligh from Mutiny on the Bounty while Spencer Tracy portrays his character of Manuel from Captains Courageous. Although Bartholomew appeared with Tracy in Captains Courageous, he is seen here as his character from the movie Little Lord Fauntleroy.

W.C. Fields portrays Humpty Dumpty and is antagonized by famous dummy Charlie McCarthy. Fields and McCarthy shared the screen in the movie You Can't Cheat an Honest Man and their longstanding feud was a popular feature on Edgar Bergan's radio program. Fields had previously played the role of Humpty Dumpty in the 1933 motion picture version of Alice in Wonderland.

Simple Simon and the Pieman are represented by Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.

See Saw Margery Daw is performed by Edward G. Robinson and Greta Garbo. Garbo utters her famous line, "I want so much to be alone."

Eddie Cantor is Little Jack Horner; Wallace Beery is Little Boy Blue.

From the cartoon's musical finale, Edna May Oliver, Mae West and ZaSu Pitts form a singing trio. Some sources claim that the center character is Joan Blondell, but based on her exaggerated figure, hairstyle and facial features, she appears much closer to Mae West.

Clark Gable and George Arliss.

Cab Calloway and Fats Waller.

Fred Astaire and the long controversial Stepin Fetchit.

And finally, big mouths Joe E. Brown and Martha Raye complete the musical number.

But one possible mystery remains. Who is portrayed on the figurehead of the rattle held by Ned Sparks in his jester incarnation? The design seems too distinct to be generic. Would anyone care to hazard a guess?

Explore the 2719 Hyperion Archives:

Stargazing at Mickey's Hollywood Premier
Behind the Walls of Hollywood Studios
Freeze Frame! - Mickey's Polo Team

Images © Walt Disney Company


Daveland said...

The jester looks a lot like Harold Lloyd, silent film comedian.

Ryan said...

I don't know who the jester is, but WOW! What a great resource for us animation buffs to look at. I'll definitely be linking to this when I get to this short on my blog.

Robby Cress said...

Excellent post. This was always one of my favorite Silly Symphonies. When I was younger I enjoyed the topical humor but now I appreciate all the great caricatures.

Anonymous said...

It looks like Ed Wynn. He called his character the "perfect fool".

Anonymous said...

8/13/2012 Looks like Phil Silvers.

Ragemanchoo said...

I'd guess Ed Wynn but I think it might be too fat. -Definitely- too fat to be Harold Lloyd.