Jimmy the raven

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Jimmy the raven
Jimmy the raven in It's a Wonderful Life.png
Jimmy appearing in It's a Wonderful Life
Other name(s) Jimmy the crow
Species Corvus corax
Breed Common raven
Sex Male
Hatched Jimmy
c. 1934
Mojave desert
Died after 1954
Occupation Animal actor
Years active 1938–1954
Training typing, opening letters, motorcycle riding
Owner Curly Twiford

Jimmy the raven (often credited as Jimmy the crow) was a raven[1] who appeared in more than 1,000 feature films[2] from the 1930s through the 1950s. He first appeared in You Can't Take It with You in 1938, after which director Frank Capra cast the bird in every subsequent movie he made. Among his roles were Uncle Billy's pet, seen in the Building & Loan in It's a Wonderful Life,[3] and the crow that landed on the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.[1]

Jimmy belonged to Hollywood animal trainer Curly Twiford, who found the bird in a nest in the Mojave Desert in 1934. Twiford trained Jimmy to do an assortment of tricks, such as typing, opening letters, and even riding a tiny motorcycle: things that would make him appealing to use in films. Jimmy could understand several hundred words, though only around 50 were what Twiford called "useful". It took Jimmy a week to learn a new useful word—two weeks if it had 2 syllables.[4] Twiford said that Jimmy could perform any task that an 8-year-old child could (see bird intelligence).[5]

His human co-stars were complimentary of the bird. "When they call Jimmy, we both answer," remarked Jimmy Stewart on the set of It's a Wonderful Life, noting that the raven "is the smartest actor on the set" requiring fewer re-takes than his human counterparts.[6]

As he became more popular with the studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer had him insured for $10,000.[7] Lloyd's of London wrote a policy to cover Jimmy's $500 a week fee as well as Curly Twiford's $200 handler fee, in the event Jimmy forgot any of the words he would need on the set.[4] Twiford credited these fees with keeping him solvent during World War II.[8] At one point, Jimmy had 21 stand-ins, 15 of which were female, who would fill in for him when the scene did not require any tricks or movement.[9]

Jimmy received a Red Cross gold medal in acknowledgement of 200 hours spent entertaining veterans after the war,[5] and his footprints were enshrined in cement at a large Los Angeles pet store, alongside Lassie and other Hollywood animal stars.[10]

His last credited film was 3 Ring Circus in 1954, after which little is known about him. Though Curly Twiford said Jimmy would "probably live to be 150" years old,[8] which the papers re-printed,[7] in reality ravens seldom live more than 30 years in captivity.[11] Twiford died in 1956 at the age of 60.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Cox, Stephen (June 2002). Munchkins of Oz (3rd ed.). Cumberland House Publishing. p. 182. ISBN 978-1581822694. 
  2. ^ Karl Kohrs; Sid Ross (March 26, 1950). "Movie Animal Man". The Salt Lake Tribune. p. 109. Retrieved 16 August 2014. 
  3. ^ Poague, Leland (November 24, 2005). Another Frank Capra. Cambridge University Press. p. 222. ISBN 978-0521389785. 
  4. ^ a b Clary, Patricia (November 18, 1948). "Hollywood Film Shop". The Daily Republican. Monongahela, PA: United Press. p. 6. Retrieved 19 August 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Jim, The Raven, In New Flicker". The Evening News. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. December 31, 1948. p. 12. Retrieved 16 August 2014. 
  6. ^ Driscoll, Charles (June 29, 1938). "New York, Day By Day". The Coshocton Tribune. Coshocton, Ohio. p. 8. Retrieved 16 August 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "Movie Wildlife has Big Part In Indiana Picture". The Kokomo Tribune. Kokomo, Indiana). January 7, 1950. p. 10. Retrieved 16 August 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Todd, John (April 7, 1947). "Around Hollywood". New Castle News. p. 5. Retrieved 16 August 2014. 
  9. ^ "Ravin' Raven". The Salt Lake Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. Sep 6, 1946. p. 15. Retrieved 16 August 2014. 
  10. ^ Allen, Gacie (January 29, 1949). "Gracie Allen Says". The San Bernardino County Sun. p. 20. Retrieved 17 August 2014. 
  11. ^ "ASCAR's Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Crows and Ravens". ASCAR Online. Retrieved 19 August 2014. 
  12. ^ Hogan, David J. (June 1, 2014). The Wizard of Oz FAQ: All That's Left to Know About Life, According to Oz. Applause Theatre & Cinema Books. p. 132. ISBN 9781480397194. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 

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