In the early ’40s, Disney was working on two full-length animated feature films, Bongo and Mickey and the Beanstalk. When war broke out at the height of their development, it was decided to create a “package feature,” combining the two stories in a single film, Fun and Fancy Free, which was released on this day in 1947.
The package feature format helped Disney to provide entertaining films throughout the war, allowing audiences an escape from the realities of the world’s problems if only for a short while. Jiminy Cricket returned to the screen, with Cliff Edwards reprising his role as the cricket’s voice, and served as the guide between segments of the lighthearted film. His opening number, “I’m a Happy Go Lucky Fellow” was actually written for him to sing in Pinocchio.
The story of Bongo was told through song by Dinah Shore, a very popular singer at the time. At one time during the early stages of Bongo, thought was given to developing the film into a follow up to Dumbo using some of the same settings and supporting cast. The animation segments were tied together with live-actions ones, featuring popular ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his puppet characters Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd. The trio was joined by Disney starlet, young Luana Patten, all of whom are worked into the story of Mickey and the Beanstalk. At one point, Foulfellow and Gideon were considered for the villains who swindle Mickey out of his cow, but the animated due did not make it to the final film. Billy Gilbert was an actor and comedian known for his comedic sneezes, but his voice work for Disney spanned epic proportions. Not only was he the voice of the Willie the Giant in Mickey and the Beanstalk, but he also was Sneezy the Dwarf in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.