Sons of the Pioneers: Various Films & Studios
Bob Nolan's voice appeared in film before he did. The song you hear on this page is Bob singing, "As Long as I've Got My Dog" (aka "That's Why I Like My Dog") for Ken Maynard. Bob had no other part in the film. I understand that he also sang "Because You Didn't Get a Girl" for Ken in the same film but it is not in my cut film.
Ken's singing voice was thin and weak and Bob's robust voice was dubbed in. Although Ken Maynard may have written it, the composer of the song is unknown. Incidentally, a small part in this film introduced a young singer named Gene Autry with his partner, Smiley Burnette, to a public who loved Ken Maynard. Before long, Autry himself was a star.
El Brendel, in the character of an on-location radio announcer, hides behind a tree listening to the Sons of the Pioneers singing Moonlight in the Valley. One at a time, each one of the Pioneers is "shot" and falls over dramatically until only Len is left singing. When he, too, is shot, Brendel exclaims in a heavy Swedish accent, "They’re all good singers but they don’t last long!" We were unable to view the entire short. (Left to right: El Brendel, Leonard Slye, Bob Nolan, Tim Spencer, Hugh Farr.)
Oswald the Rabbit (with the voice of Bernice Hansen) plays a dimwit who wants to be a cowboy. Everyone laughs at him until he tames a really wild horse. The unidentified songs are by the Sons of the Pioneers. Since this was a cartoon, only their voices are heard. Written by Walter Lantz and Victor McLeod with music by the Sons of the Pioneers.
Wertheimer, a New York radio talent scout, Eddie Kane, shows up at Uncle Jed's barn dance on the invitation of Mary Carlisle, the adopted daughter of Willard Robertson (Uncle Jed), telling him about the musical talents of Lawrence Gray and the other four farm-hand musicians (Tim Spencer, Bob Nolan, Roy Rogers as Len Sly and Hugh Farr.) He hires the boys for a new radio program to be known as "The Old Homestead" broadcast from New York. Nancy and Uncle Jed accompany them, the latter as their manager. The show is a hit but everyone runs into problems. Finally, they all leave New York and return to the old homestead to broadcast the show from there. Fuzzy Knight provides most of the comedy. The Sons of the Pioneers have a respectable amount of dialogue and film presence.
This was the seventeenth in a series of twenty-four scheduled Thelma Todd – Patsy Kelly shorts and marked Karl Farr's first film appearance as a member of the Sons of the Pioneers. (courtesy of Les Adams, Barbara Bowen and Bob Robison.) We did not view the entire Hal Roach production. We understand that the Sons of the Pioneers sang, "Echoes from the Hills" by Bob Nolan.
We did not view the film but understand that it was a short featuring the Sons of the Pioneers and Bob's song, "I Follow the Stream".
Rhythm on the Range (1936 - Paramount)
The second A-Feature Film the Pioneers appeared in, this time with crooner, Bing Crosby. With the exception of a close-up when they introduce "I'm an Old Cowhand", the Sons of the Pioneers can be seen tucked away in the background . This is Bing Crosby's only western film.
In his role of star reporter, Ted Husing covers the Hollywood scene to dig up the latest talent. In a studio he discovers David Holt, the young dramatic actor with a real talent as a song and dance man. Husing then introduces the Sons of the Pioneers, the cowboys singing the western songs. They are then seen in their native setting. Following these are the Quinlan Juvenile Singers [should read The Boswell Sisters] , a bevy of girls who do some effective choral singing. The finale presents Louis Prima, the hot trumpeter with his orchestra. An interesting reel, hitting some of the Hollywood night spots as Husing hunts for the new talent. (Film Daily, 10/15/1937) NB: This precis left out Yasha Bunchuk and his Cossack Choir.
A Feud There Was (1938 - Warner Brothers cartoon)
Egghead (an early Elmer Fudd) stops a hillybilly feud. It is generally acknowledged that the Sons of the Pioneers, including Roy Rogers, provided the singing in the background of the cartoon. It is thought that they might have also provided the hillbilly harmony in Egghead Rides Again (1937), Naughty Neighbors (1938), and possibly others.
The West Coast's answer to Broadway's Stage Door Canteen, the Hollywood Canteen was created as a GI morale-booster by film stars Bette Davis and John Garfield. Virtually everyone involved donated their salaries to the Canteen fund. A few years earlier, the Sons of the Pioneers had performed at Broadway's Stage Door Canteen.
A 1945 William A. Berke musical comedy starring Glen Vernon, Marcy McGuire, Felix Bressart, Ann Jeffreys, Bob Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers, and also the eleven year old concert pianist Richard Korbel.
Pecos Bill from "Melody Time" (1948 - Walt Disney)
An animated compilation of various musical artists, "Melody Time" contained a mini movie called "Pecos Bill", narrated by Roy Rogers as a campfire story to two children, Bobby Driscoll and Luana Patten. The Sons of the Pioneers had a small speaking part and backed Roy singing "Blue Shadows on the Trail" and "Pecos Bill". Tim Spencer and Bob Nolan were also responsible for writing the cues.