On Singing Rodents


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That’s where the Chipmunks started … a song with normal voices (all done by creator Ross Bagdasarian) … and then increased the speed. Do you remember doing that on a turntable?

Witch Doctor spent three weeks at the top of the charts in 1958

Bagdasarian appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show before the cartoon appeared

Later the same year, The Chipmunk Song (aka “Christmas, Don’t Be Late”)

  • Spent our weeks at Number 1 (December 22, 1958 to January 12, 1959)
  • Earned three Grammy Awards and a nominated for Record of the Year


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Appeared in Dell Comics …. and then came the the cartoon

Their popularity led to a cartoon series: The Alvin Show debuted (on CBS) October 4, 1961 in prime time, which lasted only one season before reruns the next year on Saturday morning

To sing along, the lyrics are below the video!

This is the Alvin Show,
The Alvin Show,
You’ll positively gonna love the Alvin Show.
There’s Dave Seville,
And what is more
Here’s the boy we know as Theodore.
Now you see,
On camera three,
The brother known as Simon on the family tree.
And here’s the star of the show,
Alvin, Alvin!

Ready, here we go,
Here’s the Alvin Show.

The 3 chipmunks after Liberty Records executives Si Waronker, Ted Keep and Al Bennett

Simon
Tall and thin with glasses
The good and smart one
Dry sense of humor
Responded “Naturally” to praise

Theodore
The youngest
Short and chubby,
Shy, trusting, sensitive, and giddy
Giggled when praised

Alvin
Mischievous
Impulsive
The lead vocalist and the star
#44 on TV Guide’s Greatest Cartoon Characters of All Time
Dave to yell “Alvin!”, to which Alvin responds with “Okay!”

Dave Seville
The father-like manager who is a songwriter
Quick tempered, but kind
Alvin irritates him

The Show

  • There were four segments in that show
  • Two short segments with The Chipmunks leading viewers in sing-alongs
  • One staring a crazy inventor named Clyde Crashcup (previous AFA honoree)
  • The lead segment featuring the Chipmunk characters as kids with David Seville, their guardian, playing the role of Dad
  • 26 episodes each for the Alvin and the Chipmunks and Clyde Crashcup, plus 52 musical segments

Dell continue the comic books after the TV show debuted

Bagdasarian retired, then died in 1972

Five years later (1977), his son, Ross Jr., revived the Chipmunks

NBC re-ran The Alvin Show on Saturday mornings 1979-80

This episode is a blend of the old and the new

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59 thoughts on “On Singing Rodents

    • RoSy,
      Welcome first time commenter! Glad this was able to take you back to your youth. This entire series goes back to my youth, which is earlier than yours. 😉 Nonetheless, this is what I try to post on many (but not all) Saturdays.

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  1. What a wonderful post! My parents always bought me Chipmunks records. I was born the year the show debuted on TV. I had plastic Chipmunks dolls that bubble bath came in and they were my favorite toys. And Alvin the little troublemaker was always, and still is, MY ROLE MODEL! 🙂

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    • Carolyn,
      LOL … With Alvin as your role model, that also means you have a spontaneous, fearless approach to life … which I’ve got the feeling is a good thing for you. 🙂 Glad to rekindle your memories of your youth!

      Like

  2. Back in summer of ’90, Rick, the girls and I visited brother and his family in Belgium. My greatest memory of the trip was driving through Belgium, Germany and Holland in a Dodge minivan and keeping the kids entertained with a chipmunk CD…er tape.

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    • Georgette,
      I wonder … memories that they were entertained, memories of being eventually annoyed by the music, or both? 😉 Amazing how different things relate to personal events.

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  3. They were/are great! All chipmunks have been called Alvin Simon and Theodore ever since I was a kid. In real life, they all act like Alvin!

    Thanks for today’s toon, Frank!

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  4. You taught me somersetting new today too. Didn’t know that they started of like a cartoon, but I don’t like the cute things … they are getting on my nerves for some reason, just annoying me. Fantastic post you have done here – you are fantastic on facts and how to express them in light and understandable way. Excellent job as always.

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  5. Good morning again! Jim and I went for a short hike earlier in a wooded area near the reservoir. As we were walking, a chipmunk ran across the trail in front of us, SCREAMING. When I opened your blog, I thought ‘what an amazing coincidence!’ 🙂

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    • Melanie,
      Good Morning … and a special welcome to Jim’s other half … oops … better half! 😉 Quite the coincidence, but hopefully this post didn’t cause you to scream and say “Never again” … 😉 …. I bounce around many topics, but this is my normal Saturday fare. Feel free to stop by anytime!

      Like

  6. I never was much of a fan of the chipmunks. It must have been the wrong frequency in my head or something. Or, they didn’t come a the right age for me. Like adinparadise said above ‘These critters are only tolerated in very small doses.’

    Now back to tag teaming with Melanie for part 3 of our Rockies trip. 🙂

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  7. I never knew there was so much history to the chipmunks. My life was unaware of them until they put out those recent movies and I had to sit through them with my son – not the sort of movie I usually enjoy sitting through xx

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    • Shakti,
      Good question. I would say two things: 1) their status of having hit songs … 2) their voices. After all, those of us from the turntable era remember playing records at different speeds.

      Like

  8. I loved The Chipmunks when I was a kid, Frank, and I was crazy about The Witch Doctor song, too. I seem to recall jumping around like a maniac to it. My cousin gave me the 45 to Christmas Don’t Be Late, and that was also special to me … Both those songs grate on me now, but I did enjoy this post.

    Like

  9. God this stuff is great. Such a blast from the past. I had no idea that the Chipmunks’ legacy went this far back. I remember animated films like “Alvin and the Chipmunks meet Frankenstein” and the such. But to see it going back this far…it’s seriously awesome.

    Like

  10. I don’t precisely remember the Alvin Show, but I sure did enjoy the Chipmunks. Perhaps I did watch the show and just don’t remember it by name. I still smile and get very nostalgic each year when I hear the Christmas song.

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  11. Both your article and comments excellent. A bit more about Ross Bagdasarian Sr. (aka David Seville)…He wrote several hit songs for other performers before striking Chipmunk gold (“Come-On-a-My House” for Rosemary Clooney and “Hey, Brother, Pour The Wine” for Dean Martin, among others) and appeared in small roles in some 1950’s movies (as the songwriter in “Rear Window” and the ‘singing prisoner’ in “Stalag 17” among others.)

    He also recorded some non-Chipmunk singles and LPS of what I guess would now be called “space-age bachelor-pad” instrumentals that deserve to be re-discovered. (If you have some old original Chipmunk 45’s, flip them over and you’ll hear some examples.)

    And as for me, it ain’t Christmas time until I hear “The Chipmunk Song” coming out of a radio.

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