Sunday, April 26, 2020

Tip Toe Through the Tulips—Murfin Home Confinement Music Festival 2020

Tip Toe Through the Tulips sung by Nick Lucas in the film Gold Diggers of Broadway.

Today at my church, the Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation in McHenry we celebrated a virtual Flower Communion during our Zoom services.  The Flower Communion is one of the few entirely original rituals for U.U.s and is generally observed in the Spring as a celebration of community and the enduring rejuvenation of beauty and life.  Generally it involves some way of sharing flowers brought to the services to all in attendance.  We could only show our flowers to our computer cameras, or if we had nothing yet blooming in our yards or maybe wear something with a flower print or show a work of art.
In honor of the occasion I thought a flower song would be appropriate, say Tip Toe Through the Tulips.  Here in McHenry County the tulips are up but not yet open, but they maybe where you are.

Tiny Tim became an unlikely star when he sang Tip Toe Through the Tulips on Rowan and Martin' Laugh-in in 1968.

Most folks identify the song with Tiny Tim, the long-haired ukulele player who became a novelty act sensation when he first warbled the song in his shaky falsetto on the first episode of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in in February of 1968.  A recording went on to be a surprising Top 40 hit reaching #17 and became his signature song during his heyday as a TV guest star.
You may be surprised that Tiny Tim’s performance was closely based  on the debut of Tip Toe Through the Tulips in the 1929 all-singing all-talking movie musical Gold Diggers of Broadway staring Winnie Lightner, Nick Lucas, and Ann Pennington.  Lucas crooned the tune written by Al Dubin (lyrics) and Joe Burke (music) while strumming his guitar in a serenade scene a falsetto tenor.  The film briefly made stars out of the featured players.

Sheet music for songs from Gold Diggers of Broadway  featuring all of the stars.
It was the first of the Warner Bros. Gold Diggers franchise but far from Busby Berkley extravaganzas we now remember.  But it was one of the first feature films shot in two-strip Technicolor and featured pre-production code chorus girls in moderately scanty outfits.  It was the studio’s biggest hit of the year.  Unfortunately, it is now considered a lost film since only a few scenes have been found and preserved.  
Today’s YouTube clip includes the opening credits for the film and Lucas’ performance.  It is a tantalizing taste of a nearly forgotten movie.

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