Posted in WB Cartoon Companion on March 24, 2004
Bandleader known as “The King of Jazz”. Many of George Gershwin’s songs, including “Rhapsody in Blue” were associated with Whiteman. In Wake Up the Gypsy in Me (Harman/Ising, 1933), the bandleader of a group of Russkies turns to face the camera, and it turns out to be Whiteman. The clarinetist thereupon goes into the famous clarinet solo that opens “Rhapsody in Blue”.
Whiteman is also something of a footnote figure in animation history. For his movie The King of Jazz (1930), Walter Lantz was commissioned to do a brief animation sequence in two-strip Technicolor showing how Whiteman supposedly earned his title hunting in Africa. This was the first cartoon to utilise Technicolor, predating Disney’s Flowers and Trees, the first cartoon in three-strip Technicolor, by two years.