Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

TINTYPE TUESDAY: Ann Miller, Ginger Rogers, Lucille Ball and Judy Garland Hit the Town to Do the Charleston!

Welcome to another edition of TINTYPE TUESDAY!

You’re Ann Miller. You’ve been hoofin’ your heart out all day long, and your dogs are barkin’ like there’s someone at the door. It’s a lovely spring night in Hollywood—perfect for parking your tired tootsies on a nice warm veranda somewhere. So what do you do?

You call up your friend Ginger and you say, “Let’s go dancing!”

Meanwhile, Lucy is phoning Judy with the same idea…

The Mocambo—once Hollywood’s most glamorous nightclub—hosted a Charleston contest every Monday night. And pity the poor, hopeful couples who strapped on their dancing shoes and showed up on May 13, 1950, only to find themselves flat up against…

charleston-1

and…

charleston-5

Could it get any  more fabulous than this? Actually it could. You see the band behind them—the guys in the fireman’s helmets? They’re animators, musicians and writers from Walt Disney’s studio, who used to jam along to jazz records on their lunch break. Then one fateful day, the phonograph broke, and they realized they were good enough to go it alone—and hey, kids, they started a band!

The only cheap vehicle they could find that was big enough to haul them and their instruments was an old 1914 fire truck. So bandleader/trombonist Ward Kimball (one of Disney’s “Nine Old Men,” his key animators) went out and found genuine helmets and uniform shirts to complete the theme, and called the band Firehouse Five Plus Two. (The “plus two” were a trumpeter and banjo player who joined shortly afterward.)

The group played together from 1949 to 1972, recording 13 albums—but they never gave up their day jobs.

TINTYPE TUESDAY is a weekly feature on Sister Celluloid, with fabulous classic movie pix (and backstory!) to help you make it to Hump Day! For previous editions, just click hereand why not bookmark the page, to make sure you never miss a week?

8 Comments

  1. Vienna

    Terrific pics. They all seem to be having a ball!

  2. You’ve done it! You’ve found the exact spot my TARDIS will land.

  3. I’ve seen only one of these photos before, but didn’t know there were a bunch! Thanks for tracking them down and posting them all. And they’re dancing to the Firehouse Five Plus Two! Who knew??? Sister Celluloid did!

    • Yes, thank God I started this site, which allows me to get out all the stuff rattling around in my head!! 🙂

  4. Just featuring Firehouse Five Plus Two would make me want to find this film. Ginger, Lucy, Ann, and Judy are icing on the cake. Thanks for posting about this fascinating movie.

    • No, this isn’t a movie — just a typical night out on the town for these fabulous ladies and gentlemen!!

      • But wouldn’t it be a great movie? 🙂
        Thanks for posting the pics 🙂

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