Cliff Edwards (also known as "Ukulele
Ike") is best remembered to the world as the voice of Jiminy Cricket in
the Walt Disney movie Pinocchio and for his recording of When
You Wish Upon A Star from the same movie. But Cliff Edwards has many
more accomplishments that the world easily forgets with the passage of
time. This Internet site attempts to rectify this through the
dissemination of information on this wonderful recording artist.
Short Chronology of Cliff's Life
1895 Cliff Edwards was born in Hannibal, Missouri on June 14. One of four children born to Edward and Nellie (Farnum) Edwards.
1909 Leaves school at age 14.
1910's Begins singing in St. Louis bars. During this period Cliff learns to play the ukulele as an accompanying
instrument due to the lack pianos in the bars.
1918 Works with Bob Carleton who composed Ja Da. Cliff makes the song a hit.
Cliff starts performing on the major vaudeville circuits of the day. While performing at the Arsonia Cafe in Chicago a waiter was having
trouble remembering Cliff's name. The waiter simply called him "Ike". The name stuck and was appended by Cliff after his instrument.
He became forever known as "Ukulele Ike".
1919 Has two recording sessions with Columbia Records but the masters are unissued.
Cliff weds first wife Gertrude Benson. A son, Clifton Jr., is born February 13. This marriage ends in December 1921.
1922 Plays kazoo on Virginia Blues with Ladd's Black Aces. This is Cliff's first
appearance on an issued record.
1923 Begins recording with major label Pathe. His career begins to take shape.
On May 14 marries Irene L. Wylie, a Ziegeld Follies dancer, in Portland, Oregon.
1924 Appears with Fred and Adele Astaire in George Gershwin's Lady Be Good on Broadway.
Cliff introduces the smash hit Fascinatin' Rhythm. His career skyrockets.
1925 Has a role in the successful Broadway production of Jerome Kern's Sunny with Marilyn Miller.
1926 Popularity of the ukulele soars. The hits keep a comin'. Cliff is now earning up to $4,000 per week.
1929 Appears in the opening sequence of the MGM film The Hollywood Revue of 1929 singing the now famous song Singin' In The Rain.
1930 Messy divorce trial begins with second wife Irene Wylie. Settled in 1931 with Irene getting
one-half of Cliff's income for life.
1931 Teamed with Buster Keaton in a series of light comedy films for MGM.
1932 Cliff's first radio program airs on CBS. Marries third wife Nancy Dover in Las Vegas. This marriage ends in divorce in 1936. Cliff's mother, Nellie, dies June 20 in Davenport, Iowa after a year-long illness. She was survived only by her son Cliff.
1933 Files the first of three bankruptcies.
Mid 1930's Although gainfully employed, Cliff's decline begins as alcohol, drugs, gambling,
and tax problems took their toll.
1936 Replaces Rudy Vallee in the Broadway stage production of George White Scandals
of 1935 at the New Amsterdam Threatre.
1939 Has hilarious role as "Endicott" in the fast-paced screwball comedy His Girl Friday starring
Cary Grant. Has short, off-camera role as the reminiscing soldier in the all-time box office grosser Gone With The Wind.
1940 His career is revitalized after Cliff signs with Disney as the voice of Jiminy Cricket in
Pinocchio. Sadly, Cliff receives no billing in the credits. Pinocchio was released in December 1939.
1941 Voice of "Jim Crow" in Disney's Dumbo. Files for bankruptcy a second time.
1942 Begins a series of Westerns with popular cowboy Tim Holt.
1944 The Cliff Edwards Show premieres on the NBC Radio Network in New York.
1946 The Cliff Edwards Show switches to the ABC Radio Network where
the show ends in September.
1949 Stars in CBS television series The Cliff Edwards Show.
Third bankruptcy filed. Earned only $8,000 in 1947 and $5,000 in 1949.
1950's Appears on TV in Disney's Mouseketeers show dedicated to Cliff.
1951 Arrives in Sydney, Australia and makes several radio appearances there in 1952.
1955 Appears in Disney's The Littlest Outlaw. Records I'm No Fool under the
voice of Jiminy Cricket.
1956 Ukulele Ike Sings Again LP album of dixieland jazz released by Disneyland Records.
1957 Receives drunk driving fine.
1961 His last recording session - Golden Records issues another version of Pinocchio
with Cliff reprising his Jiminy Cricket voice.
1965 Does voice-over in the United Artists cartoon The Man From Button Willow.
1971 Dies July 17 at the Virgil Convalescent Hospital in Hollywood, California. He was 76.
His body goes unclaimed for days because no one knew who he was.
Cliff Edwards has been credited with selling over 74 million records during his career - a large amount
by today's standards. Some of his session men include giants of jazz like Red Nichols, Miff Mole, Dick McDonough,
Adrian Rollini, Tony Mottola, Joe Tarto, Frank Trumbauer, and Joe Venuti.
Cliff was a ukulele virtuoso, and is still revered to this day for his uke skills. His uke books are still
sought out by today's uke players and collectors.
He appears in over 100 films. He appears on the Broadway stage in nine productions including the
Ziegfeld Follies. Cliff had his own radio and pioneering television show.
What a versatile and talented guy!
Cliff finally gets his proper credit and respect in 1977 with the release of Steven Spielberg's movie
Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Cliff is heard over the closing credits singing his trademark song When You
Wish Upon A Star. His name also appears in the closing credits.