Daddy was a Disney star

Jack Records in "Tommy Tucker's Tooth"
Jack Records in “Tommy Tucker’s Tooth”

Even people my age cannot recount the earliest days of Walt Disney’s remarkable career. At best, we remember his animated hits of the 1940s and ’50s. Films like Pinocchio (1940), Fantasia (1940), Dumbo (1941), Bambi (1943), Song of the South (1943), Alice in Wonderland (1951), Lady and the Tramp (1955). The list is lengthy and runs right up to modern day films, even though Disney himself died in 1966.

What’s not so well known is that Disney was not an “overnight sensation” who burst onto the scene with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. Nor with Steamboat Willie in 1928. It began long before that.

A native of Kansas City, he studied cartooning while attending McKinley HIgh School and drew patriotic World War I images for the school paper. At age 16 he dropped out of school to join the army but was rejected for being underage. So he joined the Red Cross and served as an ambulance driver in France until the armistice was signed in 1918. Then he promptly returned to Kansas City to pursue his career as an artist. In 1922, after several brief ventures in advertising and animation, he formed a studio called Laugh-O-Gram. The studio went bankrupt a year later and Disney moved to Hollywood to start a company with his brother, Roy.

However, during its one-year existence Laugh-O-Gram did manage to produce two short films. The first, an educational short on dental hygiene, was entitled Tommy Tucker’s Tooth. It was commissioned by a Kansas City dentist for distribution to Missouri schools. Some sources credit the film and its $500 paycheck with keeping Laugh-O-Gram afloat long enough to produce Alice’s Wonderland in 1923.

Which brings me to my point. My dad, Jack Records, had a role in Tommy Tucker’s Tooth. He played Jimmie Jones, the little boy with the Lon Chaney makeup who didn’t brush his teeth. He was 11 years old at the time, and was cast because he happened to live just a few blocks from the Disney family home. (Disney was living with his parents at the time.)

We’ve had a copy of the film in the family for many years, first on 35 mm and now on DVDs. Recently someone did us all a favor and posted it on YouTube.

It’s a wonder this film, which Disney directed, didn’t end his career.

15 thoughts on “Daddy was a Disney star

    1. I feel sorry for the kids who had to sit through this movie, although maybe it was enough of a novelty in those days that the content didn’t really matter.

  1. Well first and foremost, what a great family treasure. First for the rarity of having a film or any type video of your dad as a young boy from that era and secondly for the provenance.

    I’m reasonably certain had I been a young boy in those days watching the film when they got to the scene where Tommy was awarded the job by the boss I would have whispered to my classmate sitting next to me that Jimmy should have smacked Tommy in the mouth, knocked out a couple of teeth and leveled the playing field. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing…..

    1. Disney’s love was cartoons and animation, so maybe he just slipped that in where he could. Clearly makeup wasn’t his forte. Or maybe he was a Lon Chaney fan.

  2. The best thing I’ve seen today! A real period piece.
    It’s so cool you have a copy and it’s available on YouTube.
    (OK. Wear a suit and have teeth and you can get a job. TOOOTHACHE. Acid demons!)
    Part of what’s great is this really shows how kids were talked to/taught back then. Window into the past. It was probably a real treat to watch this in school at that time.
    You are right the younger set probably thinks it’s all weird and vampire-ish
    Thanks so much for sharing

... and that's my two cents