Dayton Allen, Tom Morrison, Lionel Wilson, Doug Moye, Allen Swift… these are a few of the performers known to voice characters in Terrytoons. Now add Jo Miller to the list of those who lent their talents, anonymously, behind the mike for producer Paul Terry.
Through my Cartoon Research website, I was recently contacted by a woman, Debbi Rigdon, who wanted information on an obscure one-shot Terrytoon, A Wolf’s Tale (1944). Upon inquiring why, Ms. Rigdon replied, as follows:
My grandmother’s name was Jo Miller Frackman (Stage name Jo Miller) and in A Wolf’s Tale, she did the voices of Little Red Riding Hood and the (Mae West style) Granny. My mother was hoping to get the cartoon while my grandmother was still alive (she suffered from Alzheimer’s the last 9 years of her life) but got it shortly after her passing.
I’m attaching a picture of my grandmother from around 1940. Living in New Rochelle, Grandmother was the client of furrier, Paul Terry, who asked her to do the voices for his cartoon project. As far as we know, it was her only one. My mother told me how exciting it was when the family went to the theater to see the cartoon premiere and she was allowed to stay up, LOL! My grandmother was also a comedienne and came in 2nd place the contest auditions for the voice of Betty Boop, when she was 17.
Paul Terry, a furrier? What’s that about?
From what I understand, Mr. Terry was a furrier and my grandparents were both friends and clients. My grandfather was a prominent Jeweler in New York and, as was common with the times, discouraged my grandmother’s career after they married. So aside from performing for some troops and doing a few vaudeville acts, there were few achievements later. She passed away January 1999 at the age of 94.
So now we know. Thanks to Ms. Rigdon (and the internet) we have another piece of the giant jigsaw puzzle of researching animation history. A Wolf’s Tale was a color remake of a black and white 1938 Terrytoon The Wolf’s Side Of The Story, which featured a different actress doing the voices. Below is an excerpt from the 1944 remake featuring Ms. Frackman’s performance: