You may notice among the thrilling features at right is a link to an old Betty Boop cartoon that features Cab Calloway singing “St. James Infirmary.” I knew for a long time that this cartoon existed, but have Andrew “Salty” Saltmarsh to thank for the link. Mr. Saltmarsh is the co-prioprietor of Ozprog.com, an Australian music webzine. He is also a big fan of animation by the likes of Emile Cohl and Max Fleischer. Regarding “St. James Infirmary,” he wrote in a while back:
“I first heard it during University studies into the history of animation. Max Fleischer, who was one of the early pioneers of animation and created the first sound cartoons (despite Disney’s claim with Steamboat Willy) used the Cab Calloway version of the song in his 1933 cartoon ‘Betty Boop: Snow White.’ Fleischer’s character Koko sings it. Koko was groundbreaking in that he was rotoscope-animated (meaning footage of a live-action actor is projected behind an animation board and the actor’s movements are traced with a character; this gives a great natural movement). The cartoon is massively surreal.”
He’s right about that massively surreal bit, for sure. See for yourself…
Also, more Fleischer cartoons here.
Thanks again, Mr. Saltmarsh.