Posted in WB Cartoon Companion on March 24, 2004
Catch-phrase of Jerry Colonna. This originated in a gag involving the violinist Yehudi Menuhin and an appearence by him on the Bob Hope radio show, on which Colonna was a supporting player. Wertheim describes the origin of the gag: Colonna, apparently not knowing who Yehudi was, asked the cast of the radio show, who didn’t know either. The search for the mythical Yehudi became a running gag and eventually a popular song. Yehudi references can be seen in Hollywood Steps Out (Avery, 1941) in which an invisible figure is sitting next to Colonna and is identified by Jerry as Yehudi, and in Farm Frolics (Clampett, 1941) in which an owl says “Who’s Yehudi?”. Another reference comes in Crazy Cruise (Avery/Clampett, 1942), in which an invisible battleship, the S.S. Yehudi, is seen. There is also the Club Yahoodi in Lights Fantastic (Freleng, 1942), which does not have much of anything.
A fairly recent episode of the PBS series Nova, I have been informed, discussed a so-called “Project Yehudi” from the World War II era involving camouflage schemes for ships, which gives the Crazy Cruise gag an interesting twist.