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Monday, May 18, 2009

Tico-Tico - Ethel Smith

"Let's go below the border for some South American jive."

via the "Official Bob Dylan Twitter Page" whose taste is occasionally as eclectic as Dreamtime's.

Ethel Smith, Empress of the Mighty Hammond B-3, for your edification. The clip above is from Bathing Beauty, a 19 and 44 vehicle for "America's Mermaid," Esther Williams, and which also starred Red Skelton.  Smith played an "Assistant Music Professor," whose all-girl students take a little time off from academia and demand some jive from South of the Border. Smith obliges with her big hit number, Tico-Tico, which reached No. 14 on the U.S. pop charts in November 1944 and sold over one million copies worldwide.

As Mr. D. said in his recent Rolling Stone interview, "...Veronica Lake all of a sudden singing in a nightclub... Diahann Carroll is singing in a cafe... the Sons of the Pioneers are playing on a truck... They don't put that kind of thing in movies anymore..."

Tico-Tico was written in 1917 by Zequinha de Abreu, originally under the title Tico Tico no Farelo. It became better-known in the 1940s as Tico Tico no Fuba. and eventually simply, Tico-Tico. The song was introduced into the United States by, believe it or not, Donald Duck, in the 1942 Disney Studios animated film, Saludos Amigos.

Tico-Tico wouldn't be Ethel Smith's sole Disney connection. In 1948, she made an appearance in the Disney live action/animated feature Melody Time, where she starred with Mr Duck, José Carioca, and the so-called Aracuan Bird . Dressed like Carmen Miranda, who had also had a hit with Tico-Tico, Miss Smith appears at the Hammond pumping out Blame it on the Samba, breaks into dance, pounds on the bongos, and survives having her Hammond destroyed by her feathered co-stars.

Ethel Smith returned to the big screen one more time to play a small role in 19 and 67's go-go movie, C'mon, Let's Live a Little, starring Bobby Vee and Jackie DeShannon. Smith play's Bobby Vee's Aunt Ethel, a go-go boot-wearing hillbilly matron who entertains with the country-western song, Way Back Home.

Watch the clip while you can, as Bathing Beauty is owned by TCM, which is notorious for demanding that its content - be it trailers or clips - is displayed on its site only. I'm still pissed about Hootenanny Hoot. In any case, if the clip is gone from YouTube, you may be able to find it here.

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