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Mickey Mouse’s Cartoon Band

Long before the Firehouse Five Plus Two (not to mention Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band), Pinto Colvig (storyman, voice of Goofy) apparently organized a Disney Studio in-house “Cartoon Band”. I know nothing about the story behind this June 29th, 1936 mystery photo (click to enlarge) beyond the clues in the picture itself: It’s on the Hyperion street lot; there’s Ward Kimball on the far right with the trombone; and is that Pinto with the white beard, center, behind the drummer? And heck, is that Walt center right, standing with the trumpet, fourth from the right?

This photo comes from that cache of rare Disney material for sale from our friend Mary Rose.

UPDATE: Amid shares another image of the band below from the 1936 United Artists Convention. Click on the image for a bigger version with identifications.

Disney band
  • It does look like Walt.

  • Didier Ghez

    In an interview by John Culhane with Art Babbitt, which was released in Walt’s People – Volume 9, Babbitt said:

    [This was really the genesis of the Firehouse Five Plus Two and [here] Pinto Colvig is the leader. He used to be a clown and he played the clarinet in the Ringling Brothers circus. That’s Ed Penner on the left on the sax. That’s Ward Kimball on the trombone. That was near the Ink and Paint building. It was a band concert with Studio personnel.
    [Pinto Colvig], the original Bozo the Clown, was also the voice for Goofy, and Grumpy in Snow White, and played other parts at the Studio. He was also Pluto: he did the bark for Pluto. He also did cars that needed engine repairs.
    [At some point] he came around, finding out who played what instrument in the Studio. I knew I would be rejected before I offered. I said, “Sure I’d like to join the outfit.” He said, “Well, what do you play?” I said, “Mandolin.” He said, “Art, we can’t use the mandolin.” I said, “Why not? I can march in time with the rest of the guys. I can play real loud. I can read music. How come I can’t be in the band?” He said, “See, Art, in a band you use normally wind or percussion instruments.” Then he left. I acted very downfallen, heartbroken. About three days later I called him up and said, “Pinto, you gotta take me into your band.” He said, “How come, what happened?” I said, “I bought an accordion.” He had a hell of a time getting out of that. I had bought it before.]

  • Zib Zabzo

    I think that’s Pinto far right in front of Ward. Pinto was a clarinet player. He also seems to be presenting the band with that arm gesture of his.

  • Sardonic Tuba

    They look like a bunch of damn hippies.

  • That’s a really nice group photo.

    I had no idea that Goofy was voiced by the original Bozo the Clown.

  • “Clara Cluck” in Amid’s photo is Florence Gill, mother of the “Gill” in the comedy team of Gill and Demling who held forth on many radio programs of the early 1930s.

  • Katie

    I’m pretty sure the guy behind the drummer is actually Frank Thomas.

  • Dan Jeup

    The seated guy in the front row, fourth from the left with the fake white beard, looks like Frank Thomas. I know he played the piano but am not sure if he also played what looks like a flute or clarinet. Wonder if that’s him.

  • JB Kaufman

    For what it’s worth, Colvig wrote Walt Disney a memo in February 1937, “after approximately a year of clowning around and trying to organize ‘the only all-cartoonist band in the world'”. They had, he said, eventually put together quite a decent band, but the group had disbanded for the holidays. Now he was trying to get it started again, and asked Walt to give it his official endorsement so as to encourage the members to take it seriously. Walt complied, issuing a statement that cited the importance of music in the studio’s cartoons, and giving the band his blessing.