If you’ve never heard of a performer named Candy Candido, it’s time I filled you in. Candy was born Jonathan Joseph Candido in New Orleans on December 25, 1913, and passed away on May 19, 1999 in Burbank, CA at the age of 85. He is remembered as a radio performer, bass player, vocalist and animation voice actor, but that doesn’t do him justice. His real talent was an amazing vocal range, from gravelly bass to glass-breaking falsetto. There’s an excellent description of his remarkable professional accomplishments on Wikipedia. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candy_Candido)
I got to meet him through my Disney collectors club, the Disneyana Fan Club (formerly the NFFC). He appeared at our 1993 Convention with fellow voice artist Betty Lou Gerson, famous in her own right as the voice of Cruella De Vil. With the Dayton Disneyana event coming up June 11-12 (www.daytondisneyana.org), and the DFC Convention shortly thereafter on July 13-15 (www.disneyanafanclub.org), I thought this would be a good time to share the story “The Candyman” told us about getting started at the Disney Studio —
…So [my wife] won’t travel anymore. And I didn’t go anywhere without my children, and my wife.
So I said “What do you want me to do? I play the bass fiddle and I sing songs in funny voices.”
She said “Well, look, Walt Disney, the Green Sheet. He’s looking for different voices. Why don’t you go try out?”
Well, I wouldn’t give her the satisfaction. But I went over.
You remember Jack Lavin? … He was the Casting Director. … Well, I walked in the office and Jack Lavin said “Hey, Candy Candido!”
I said “How did you know me?”
He said “Well, I used to manage Paul Whiteman, and Paul wanted to hire you to play bass in his band….”
You all know who Paul Whiteman was? That’s right, biggest in the world.
“…and you were with Ted Fiorito. We tried to hire you, but Fiorito wanted $25,000 for [your] contract.” You hear that, baby? [Laughs] My wife says I’m not worth nothing.
So he says “What are you doing here?”
I said “Look, the Green Sheet says you’re looking for some different voices.”
He says “By the way, can you do a raven?”
Well, I thought that guy was pulling my leg. Who the hell does a musician know about a raven? So I think he’s pulling my leg, I’ll pull his. I said “What do you want, the male or the female?”
“You mean there’s two?”
I said “Sure, the female does all the talking. The male never does nothing.”
So he says “Let’s hear it, Candy.”
So from the top of my voice I let out “BAWK.” I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.
He says “Let’s go see the producer.”
Remember Walt Pfeiffer? … Walt Pfeiffer was the producer. We walked in this beautiful office. He had on this black tam and two-rimmed black glasses. Yes men on that side, yes men on this side. [Pfeiffer was a childhood friend of Walt Disney.]
He says to Jack Lavin, “What do you want, Jack?”
“I’ve got Candy Candido here, and he does a raven. And incidentally, he says the female does all the talking. The male never does nothing.”
I found out later that Walt Pfeiffer was no more a producer than you and I. Walt Pfeiffer’s daddy loaned Walt some money. So he made Walt Pfeiffer a producer…
So Walt Pfeiffer says “Candy, let me hear it.” So again, “BAWK.”
Takes off his glasses, he wipes them with [his handkerchief], he looks at me, he looks as them, he says “I’ll buy that.” Thirty-three years I was at the Studio.