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June 14

June 14, 1895 – Singer, Voice Actor, and Disney Legend Cliff Edwards is Born


“Cliff Edwards, otherwise known as Ukelele Ike, is the voice, and really the character, of Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio.” – Daniel Goldmark, Music Professor at Case Western Reserve University

On June 14, 1895, Clifton A. Edwards was born in Hannibal, Missouri. After leaving school at age 14, Edwards began his career as a singer in saloons, teaching himself how to play the ukulele, as many places didn’t have a working piano. This skill earned him the nickname “Ukelele Ike,” and he got his big break in 1918, where he and Bob Carleton wrote and performed a song that became a hit in vaudeville. In 1919, Edwards began making phonograph records, and soon became one of the most popular singers of the 1920s. After catching the attention of Irving Thalberg, Edwards was hired by MGM to star in the early talking films. Edwards’ best known role came in 1940, when he starred as the voice of Jiminy Cricket in the Disney animated film Pinocchio and sang one of the most recognized songs of his career, “When You Wish Upon a Star.” He would go on to  voice the lead crow in Dumbo. Edwards battled with alcoholism and drug addiction later in his life, and spent his days around the Disney studios, entertaining the animators with stories about vaudeville. He passed away in 1971 due to cardiac arrest. Disney honored Edwards as a Disney Legend in 2000.


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