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August 17

August 17, 1954 – The Special Short Film Willie the Operatic Whale is Released to Theaters

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“A signing whale? Whaddya know! Imagine that! I don’t believe it! I don’t believe it!”

On August 17, 1954, the special short segment Willie the Operatic Whale was released to theaters. A segment from the animated feature film Make Mine Music, it was originally entitled “The Whale Who Wanted To Sing At The Met.” All the voices in the short were performed by Nelson Eddy.

The segment begins with how the story began, with a small segment in the newspaper about a mysterious voice heard at sea, which then became a front page story, then a screaming headline. Scientists are split on the issue, with one camp believing that it was impossible, while some believe it had to be possible. Then, Impresario Professor Tetti Tatti weighs in, believing that the whale must have swallowed an opera singer, and is determined to retrieve the poor victim. Whitey the seagull finds the newspaper announcing Tetti Tatti’s search for the whale, and tries to get his friend Willie the Whale to sing for Tetti Tatti. Willie is serenading the sea animals when Whitey finds him. Willie heads over to Tetti Tatti’s ship and starts serenading him with some Figaro. The sailors refuse to shoot the harpoon as they listen to Willie’s beautiful singing. Willie could also sing in three separate voices, all at the same time, and was considered a singing miracle. However, Tetti Tatti is still convinced that there are three opera singers inside Willie, and desperately grabs at the harpoon; fortunately, he is stopped by the sailors. Willie is then seen singing on the stage of the Met, singing grander and grander roles. Unfortunately, the singing at the Met was all a dream, as Tetti Tatti got his way and managed to harpoon Willie, killing him. Whitey flies around, depressed that his friend has been murdered, but is reassured by the narrator that people aren’t used to miracles, and Willie is singing in Heaven. Willie is seen singing in the clouds to a sold out show.

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