Today I love to tell you something about the Screen Songs, an innovation introduced by the Fleischer Studios during the early 1930s. These Screen Songs were short films where you could listen and sing-along with the latest hits as sung by the artist himself. When the song had been repeated several times, packed up into animated cartoon gags, the original artist would sing the tune. A dancing ball indicated what words, to be seen on the screen, had to be sung. In fact, these 1930s inventions, were karaokes avant la lettre. I will share with you one of those Screen Songs, titled Betty Co-Ed ( J. Paul Fogarty-Rudy Vallee ), released the first of August 1931 and sung by Rudy Vallee, who made it a hit.
In the 1920s animator Seymour Kneitel from Fleischer's studios started to make a series, titled Follow The Bouncing Ball. Max and Dave Fleischer had invented a way to mix animated cartoon and live actors, together during the early 1920s with their series Out Of The Inkwell cartoons. Walt Disney released late 1920s the primitive Alice Cartoons, I talked about some times ago. Although the first Follow The Bouncing Ball series, like Fleischer's Song Car-Tunes were silent films, as soon as the invention of sound-on-film was made they were re-named as Screen Songs. The first one The Streets of New York was released February 1929.
Rudy Vallee, who was born as Herbert Pryor in 1901 in Island Point and passed away in 1986 in Hollywood, was one of those extreem popular crooners of the 1920s and 1930s. He had changed his name in Rudy, because of Rudy Wiedoeft, his great example. He became a band leader in 1927 in Boston where he sung ( although he played alto saxophone and clarinet) and late 1920s he moved to New York where he got a job at the Heigh-Ho-Club. He named his band The Connecticut Yankees. He became a film star and got radio shows which made him extreem popular. He made a lot of top hits, like the Main Stein Song and Betty Co-Ed. Up to 1939 he had ca. 70 hits, which indicates his great popularity. During the 1940s up to his death he stayed popular as a musical and film star.
Enjoy Betty Co-Ed as a 1931 Fleischer Screen Song, sung by Rudy Vallee. ( It's a pity that it seems that the music isn't synchronous with the film images ).
I'm searching for a DVD ( PAL - code 2 ) with these Fleischer Screen songs. Can someone help me?
This contribution is also published in Dutch and English at the daily Keep swinging web log.