Title card from Disney short Elmer Elephant (1936)
|Directed by||Wilfred Jackson|
|Produced by||Walt Disney|
|Music by||Leigh Harline|
|Animation by||Al Eugster|
|Layouts by||Ferdinand Horvath|
|Backgrounds by||Maurice Noble|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
The short tells the story of a timid elephant named Elmer. In this story, he is invited to Tillie Tiger's birthday party, bringing her a bouquet of flowers. Tillie loves Elmer, but the other animals make fun of his nose (trunk) and cruelly mock him when Tillie isn't around to defend him. Brokenhearted by their teasing, Elmer leaves the party and cries in front of a nearby pond. Elmer is reassured by Joe, a nearby elderly giraffe who admits to him that he used to suffer the same teasing about his neck. Just then, a fire breaks out at Tillie's tree-house with Tillie still in it. The rescue efforts by the other children as well as a monkey fire brigade prove futile. With the help of Joe and some pelicans who resemble Jimmy Durante, Elmer uses his trunk like a fire hose to successfully put out the fire and rescue Tillie. Due to his heroic acts, he won both the respect of the other animals and the heart of Tillie.
Elmer is theorized to be the precursor of Dumbo; the common trait of both characters being that they have insecurities about a specific body part they get ridiculed for (in this case, Elmer's trunk) and eventually achieving success with the body part in question.
Elmer would later go on to star in a serial in the Silly Symphony comic strip. "The Life and Adventures of Elmer Elephant," appearing from October 27, 1935 to January 12, 1936, retold the story of the Elmer short. Three years later, Elmer was featured in the strip again, in a continuity called "Timid Elmer". This story was based on a planned second Elmer short, which was abandoned before completion. In this story, published December 4, 1938 to February 12, 1939, Elmer's girlfriend Tillie Tiger is tired of his cowardice, and takes up with a bully, Gooch Gorilla. After talking to a wise giraffe, Elmer gains the confidence to fight the bullies and win back Tillie's respect.
Like the Three Little Pigs before him, he would also become a popular character in merchandising. However, he never made another theatrical appearance again, with the exceptions of the crowd shots in the later Silly Symphonies short Toby Tortoise Returns and a cameo appearance in Who Framed Roger Rabbit alongside Joey Hippo. Most recently, Elmer and Tillie have made brief but notable cameos in Mickey Mouse episode "Carried Away" where they are tourists in Niagara Falls.
Today, the Elmer Elephant short can be viewed on the 2001 Walt Disney Treasures DVD box set Silly Symphonies. Since 2001, it has also been included as a bonus feature, alongside fellow Silly Symphony short The Flying Mouse, on DVD/Blu-Ray releases of Dumbo. From 1983 through 1997, this short was also the featured subject of DTV's music video of "Owner of a Lonely Heart" by Yes, and featured in an episode of Sing Me a Story with Belle.
The Silly Symphony Sunday comic strip ran a three-month-long adaptation of Elmer Elephant called "The Life and Adventures of Elmer the Elephant" from October 27, 1935 to January 12, 1936. A sequel, "Timid Elmer", ran from December 4, 1938 to February 12, 1939.
- Merritt, Russell; Kaufman, J. B. (2016). Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies: A Companion to the Classic Cartoon Series (2nd ed.). Glendale, CA: Disney Editions. pp. 174–175. ISBN 978-1-4847-5132-9.
- Holtz, Allan (2012). American Newspaper Comics: An Encyclopedic Reference Guide. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press. p. 351. ISBN 9780472117567.
- Duvall, Earl; Taliaferro, Al; Osborne, Ted; De Maris, Merrill (2016). Silly Symphonies: The Complete Disney Classics, vol 1. San Diego: IDW Publishing. ISBN 978-1631405587.
- Taliaferro, Al; Osborne, Ted; De Maris, Merrill (2016). Silly Symphonies: The Complete Disney Classics, vol 2. San Diego: IDW Publishing. ISBN 978-1631408045.
- Elmer Elephant on IMDb
- Elmer Elephant on the Encyclopedia of Disney Animated Shorts
- Elmer's profile in the Disney HooZoo
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