on Pinto Colvig
Biographical sources in vaguely chronological order; open the images in another window for a better view. Much more on Pinto here.
We are pleased to announce that the condition of Mrs. W. M. Colvig, which was critical for a time, is much improved at this writing. Dr. DeBar, assisted by Drs. Pickel and Geary of Medford, found it necessary to perform some operations, which have proved successful.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, February 5, 1892, page 3
A son was born to Mr. and Mrs. W. M. Colvig at Jacksonville, on the 11th inst.
"Local and General," Southern Oregon Mail, September 23, 1892, page 3
A grand Christmas festival was given Thursday evening at the club room by the children of the Eastern Star members, under the direction of Mr. and Mrs. C. F. Shepherd. The room was tastily decorated with evergreens and bright red berries. The program consisted of the cantata entitled "Mother Goose's Christmas Party," which was interspersed with songs and recitations. The following participated in the cast: Mother Goose, Mrs. C. F. Shepherd; Mother Hubbard, Edith Priest; Queen of Hearts, Helen Colvig; Bo Peep, Nellie Reames; Cinderella, Agnes Love; Miss Muffet, Mary DeBar; Little Red Riding Hood, Maggie Krause; King Cole, George Merritt; Little Boy Blue, Ernest Elmer; Jack Horner, Robbie Ennis; Tom Tucker, Earl Shepherd; Simple Simon, Albert Elmer; Brownies, Don Colvig, Don Cameron, Vivian Beach and Bryant DeBar; Uncle Sam, Kale Shepherd; Mark Hanna, Vance Colvig; Fairies, Eula Jacobs and Zela White; Santa Claus, Prof. C. F. Shepherd. At the conclusion of the performance a colored light illuminated the stage and a beautiful bedecked Christmas tree, after which the distribution of presents took place. Everyone present enjoyed themselves.
"Jacksonville News," Medford Mail, January 1, 1897, page 3
Miss Clara Colvig and her little brothers, Donald and Vance, are at their grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. D. N. Birdsey, on Rogue River, for a little outing. Miss Helen is visiting with Mrs. M. Hanley on Butte Creek.
"Jacksonville News," Medford Mail, July 23, 1897, page 3
A serious runaway accident occurred in Jacksonville on Saturday morning. Mr. Henry Murray, a fruit and vegetable dealer, was delivering his goods and while crossing the streets near the M.E. Church the clip came off the neck yoke and let one side down, which frightened his spirited team, and it started to run; a little son of Hon. W. M. Colvig [Donald Colvig] was in the seat by Mr. Murray, and in his endeavor to shield the little boy from possible harm, the horses got the advantage of him, and in their wild run collided with a road cart in which Mrs. Mary E. Kime and her little grandson were riding. In the general smashup Mrs. Kime was thrown violently to the ground and quite seriously injured and the cart was upset on the boy. Mr. Murray and the little Colvig boy jumped from their wagon and let the team go and went at once to Mrs. Kime's assistance. She was carried into the residence of G. Elksnat unconscious and Dr. DeBar hastily summoned. She revived shortly after, but appears to have serious internal injuries. Mr. Murray's vegetables and fruit was distributed over several blocks, his horses badly hurt and his wagon almost a wreck.
Ashland Tidings, August 9, 1897, page 3
Vance Colvig, youngest son of Hon. Wm. Colvig, was painfully burned on the hands and face Tuesday by falling from a high chair onto the stove.
"Jacksonville News," Medford Mail, November 5, 1897, page 3
When Jackson Creek over-flooded – washed away the bridge. Brother Don dern near got drowned – and came down with pneumonia. And the time Don was riding the vegetable wagon with Hank Murray [Henry Chambers Maury] – and the team of horses became frightened by a swarm of hornets – ran away – and killed some old woman. [Mary E. Paulus Kime survived.]
Pinto Colvig, Clowns Is People, 1935, Southern Oregon Historical Society MS9
"I was born in Jacksonville and named Vance DeBar Colvig. At age 7 (because of too many freckles, and goony antics) I was nicknamed 'Pinto the Village Clown' (which I have used professionally during my circus and other show business activities, besides occasional jobs as a newspaper cartoonist."
"'Pinto' Colvig Writes About Names, History of Clowning," Medford Mail Tribune, July 12, 1961
I know that many people eat dinner by candlelight, but I feel sure that I am the only person who in this electric day and age enjoys eating breakfast on early December and January mornings by the light of a single candle. I started this custom for myself when I moved down to this apartment over six years ago and have been keeping it up ever since.
At Christmastime I always put candles in each of the many candlesticks (all antiques) I have scattered over my living room and dining room so on that one morning, six years ago, when for some reason or other the electric power failed I lit one of the candles and placed it on my breakfast table. How the light of that little taper in the morning dawn brought back memories of the old home in Jacksonville as I sipped my coffee and munched my toast, so during the holiday weeks since then I have eaten my breakfast by the flickering light of a "tallow-dip," as Dad used to call them. What magic it brings about! I cease to be an old lady all alone; I am changed into a child again and am in the midst of a family of brothers and sisters. I hear Dad blowing the "Reveille" on the battered old cornet up the stairway to jolt us from our slumbers long before daylight.
You never slept upstairs so you can't know how cold a winter morning can be. You and Don had a nice snug room off of the dining room stairs, and it was only a short dash for you boys from the bed to the red-hot living room stove. But we girls slept up close to the roof where on winter nights we could hear the very nails pop out of the ice-covered shingles close over our heads. The "spare room," across the hall was furnished with a wood stove-fire always "laid," in case of company--but never at any time was it lit for our own comfort. When we had reached the half grown-up age we girls ceased to be in the group of children dressing around the sitting room stove downstairs. Our father and little brothers--the male members of the family--must not see us in our union suits or even in our petticoats; we sure were taught modesty at an early age. So we shivered out of bed on those cold winter mornings, lighted the candles on the bureau, hustled into our clothes as hastily as we could and flew down the stairs, candlestick in hand, dripping candle grease on the stair carpet every step of the way.
Dad would not allow a coal-oil (kerosene) lamp to be carried up or down stairs on account of the danger of fire--hence the candles. For several years my Saturday job was removing the week's accumulation of tallow off of those stair steps, and a disagreeable but effective process it was. I placed a piece of "brown" paper over the grease and applied a hot "sad" iron to it. The grease, some of it, was blotted into the paper, the rest, I presume, was melted and absorbed into the carpet. Ugh! I can still smell that rancid hot odor of grease, paper and dusty carpet as I write these words.
Anyway, on those cold winter mornings, when we got to the warm haven of the dining room, we set the lighted candles on the breakfast table and left them there. There was a hanging lamp suspended above the table but coal oil was expensive so it seldom, if ever, was lit for breakfast on those dark winter mornings. There was no delay or straggling in to breakfast by different members of the family in our house, either in winter or summer; even the youngest member of the tribe, as soon as it was able to sit up in a high chair, had to be dressed and washed and combed by seven o'clock and take his or her place at the breakfast table. In the winter time we were assembled there, with a few hours of darkness still ahead of us. Dad always referred to this time of day as "early candlelight," which expression sounded to me as being very poetical and beautiful even when I was a child.
When we children had deposited our candles on the dining room table those shivering mornings, we could look out into the kitchen, which, to us, seemed brightly illuminated by two reflector lamps; one on the wall above the stove where steaks were sizzling, fried potatoes sputtered and mush and coffee boiled--the "hired girl" standing watch over them--another lamp on the shelf above the table where Mama would be rolling and cutting out the dozens of "sourdough" or baking powder biscuits for the substantial morning meal. We children would dip some hot water out of the tank at the end of the stove and carry our wash pans to the bench on the back porch and make a hasty and indifferent toilette. No wonder we did not wash behind our ears on those bitter cold mornings when the water almost froze on our faces and hands before we could give a tug at the roller towel and wipe it off. This finished, we girls had to go into the sitting room and help you little boys into your clothes. It was quite a task, and really an art, to get the legs of your union suits twisted about your ankles and pull the heavy black, ribbed stockings smoothly over them, without letting the underwear move up in lumps with the stockings.
Do you remember the stove that was throwing out heat in that room on those winter mornings? Quite an ornate piece of iron; filigrees of metal decorations all over its bulging rotundity, a window of opaque isinglass in the front of it through which we could see the flames, with a name of its own spelled out in nickel letters close to the top. For some reason or other our stove had been christened and branded "EMERALD." I think we had our first lessons in the alphabet from those familiar 7 letters. Later, when we had licked the entire alphabet, Dad got up the game for us of competing with each other to see how many small words we could make out of that one larger word, "Emerald." We spent days at it and each kept his or her list a secret from the others; when the specified time had elapsed Dad examined and counted our lists and he gave the winner--ME--ten cents as a prize. Yep! A whole dime! It was well worth striving for in those days when a weekly allowance of money for children was unheard of. Gosh! The only coin of the realm we ever handled during the entire year and could call our own was the ‘two bits" which was handed out to us on the Fourth of July.
But to get back to the candlelit morning meal. What a noisy laughing group we were, gathered around that table. Dad had a strict rule that nothing of an unpleasant nature could be voiced during meals, and he adhered to that rule all the rest of his life. Guess that is the reason I have never had stomach ulcers. No complaints, no criticism and no gossip allowed. I remember one time when I said: "I can't stand that old Sister Eusebius. I wish she wasn't my teacher." Dad looked at me with that one-sided smile of his and remarked: "I'd like to see her and find out what her opinion of you is." It acted as a perfect squelch and everybody laughed.
So thus my mind runs back into the past in the faint glimmering of my present breakfast candle. This morning it aroused memories that have laid dormant over a period of much more than half a century. While I was reveling in my comfortable apartment I thought of those unbearably cold mornings when I used to get up at dark in the winter time. Those mornings after Clara and I had graduated from the downstairs children's room to the front upstairs room of low, slanting ceiling and which had [an] uncovered porch opening out of its front door. Our constitutions began to be hardened from that time on to the extent of being able to endure any amount of roasting in the summer, and freezing to the point of death in the winter. This porch I have mentioned had a tin or zinc flooring which got red hot in the summer sunshine, retaining about 100 degrees of heat all night long, and became a sheet of ice during most of the winter months, except the rainy periods when every drop of water that hit the metal surface sounded like the beat on a too-tight drumhead. At the best it never would have served Juliet as a balcony. It was not in the least decorative nor was it useful except on the nights when we were expecting company from a distance, or Dad home from a railroad trip and the train was late. Having no telephone or other means of information as to how late the "overland" was in Medford, some one of us would be sent up to this porch to ascertain if we could see the headlight of the engine of our own short line coming up the valley from Medford below. Sometimes, weather permitting, one of us would be stationed on this lookout and when the light would appear we would rush downstairs shouting the news and run off to the little depot to meet the homecoming Father or whoever else was expected. If the weather was clear we sometimes could see the smoke from the engine of the "overland" as it neared Medford, five miles away, then we knew that our own little short line would soon be on its way up to Jacksonville. In those days trains were seldom, if ever, on time during the winter months, what with snow in the mountains and floods in the valley. Mr. Barnum, who owned and ran the short line, always had to wait in Medford until the "big" train arrived there because he had the contract to carry the U.S. mail, which it brought from Medford to Jacksonville--also it might have passengers aboard whose destination was our little out-of-the-way town.
Clara and I did not occupy this upstairs room alone. We slept together in one bed and the hired girl slept in another bed in the same room. Now, "hired girls" were an institution of that bygone era. They could not possibly be put in the same class with servants or "maids" of today. They were big, healthy, buxom, willing country girls who deemed it a privilege to be paid two dollars and a half--sometimes less--for living with a large family in town and doing all the heavy work and getting their room and board besides. They came as sort of a green apprentice to learn from the lady of the house how to cook, sew, and tend babies in between chores of washing, ironing and scrubbing--even milking the cow if there was no one else about to do that. The dish washing in such a large family as ours was a tremendous task three times a day, with all the water required for it to be drawn out of a well, and heated on a wood stove. Such piles of dishes! Aside from us five Colvig children there were two orphaned cousins living with us; then there always seemed to be a school teacher about whom Mama had invited to live with us awhile because the teacher couldn't find a place to suit her in which to live. Jacksonville, being the county seat, was overrun with people from out of town whenever court was in session so Dad was always bringing some client of his to a meal or to stay a few nights, also other lawyers who lived out of town and had to be in Jacksonville when their cases came up. We never counted relations as extras, even when they arrived in hordes. There was always enough to eat, hay and a place in the barn for their horses, and any or all of us children would gladly give up our beds to the visitors and sleep rolled up on the parlor floor if necessary.
Did the hired girl complain, rebel, give notice to quit or demand higher wages? She did not. Instead she made up extra beds, washed piles and piles of dishes, laundered stacks of sheets, tablecloths and napkins, towels and even some of the clothes of the visitors along with the regular family washing, which was no small item in itself. She was one of the family and it was hard sometimes to tell whether she or Mama was the hostess in that house. She aimed to please and she did it enthusiastically, cheerfully and tirelessly. These girls came to work for us and each one of them stayed years and years. None ever quit or was fired, and it was with tears on both sides that we parted when each one finally left to get married. The hired girl was always treated as one of the family. She ate at the table with us, and in the afternoons and evenings when the work was done she sat in the living room with us. Dad corrected her grammar and pronunciation of words just as he did us and Mama taught her manners and the art of fine embroidery. She shared our sorrows and joys and accompanied us on picnics and other family outings.
Somehow, my flickering candle at breakfast this morning brought out of my subconscious mind one of those hired girls who came to live with us when I was about ten years old. Her name was Hattie McComber. She came from up Talent way and replaced Florence Bolt who had been with us for several years. At the time of which I write, Hattie had not yet been with us long enough to entrench herself in our affections or Mama's entire approval.
The hired girl always got up and lit the candles in our room quite some time before Clara or I could get up enough courage to emerge from under the snug covers. Anyway we weren't required to be downstairs as soon as she was. The first thing Hattie did after she lit the candles was to take a big wad of gum from the shelf by the bureau, put it in her mouth and begin to chew ecstatically and happily while she hooked her whalebone corset into place and donned the rest of her clothes; but when her rapid toilet was completed and she was ready to rush downstairs to the kitchen she would take the gum from her mouth and tenderly put it back on to the shelf. Her reason for discarding the gum was not entirely motivated by Mama's disapproval of a gum-chewing hired girl, but because, to Hattie, this quid of gum was a very special, if not sacred, thing, and the chewing of it the first thing in the morning was a sort of loving ceremony with which she always started the day. She had told me all about it on the first day of her arrival at our home when I had escorted her upstairs, and, with childish interest and curiosity, watched her unpack her meager belongings. When she produced the gum from the side of her mouth and placed it on the corner of the shelf that day she not only warned me never to touch or displace it, but made me give my sacred oath of honor that I never would. This was the first time that anyone had taken me into their confidence about their love affairs and I was much awed, impressed and interested in this piece of gum, for it was a symbol of everlasting love, both to Hattie and to me. She told me that she was very much in love with a young farmer who lived up Talent way. He had been courting her for two years, but had never approached her with an offer of marriage in all that time, then a little over a year ago he had taken her to a Fourth of July celebration up at Ashland, and while there, sometime during the day when they had sought seclusion on a park bench, he opened up his heart and asked her to marry him. He explained that at the present time he was unable to support a wife and it looked as though it might be quite a spell before he got his farm paid for and could claim her for his own. Would she wait for him, was his plea.
She promised she would wait, no matter how many dollars or years away the wedding might be. O, yeah! She would be true to him.
To seal their vows he produced a full package of gum, divided it with her (two and a half sticks per person) and holding hands they each chewed their portion to the proper consistency for comfortable mastication (at that time Mr. Beeman had not perfected his product and it always crumbled when first put in the mouth). They then solemnly exchanged cuds, swearing that every day until the wedding bells rang for them--no matter how far apart they might be--they each would chew the gum which the other had started, and remember their vow.
If Hattie had shown me a thousand-dollar diamond ring as a pledge of her betrothal I couldn't have been more impressed. It was so beautifully romantic--and O! the wonder of it. Just think, keeping a piece of gum for over a year and thinking of him with every chew.
I used to stealthily take Maggie Krause, Ollie Huffer and other girls of my age up to the room to show them this wonderful piece of gum, and relate the romantic story of its origin. It never entered our heads, nor Hattie's either, that it was quite unhygienic to chew the same piece of gum every day for a year, especially when it laid around in the dust, attracting germs, between mastications. The very antiquity of Hattie's gum gave it value. You know a piece of gum gets lost or mislaid so easily--almost mysteriously at times. You even forget what piece of furniture you stuck it under--or, maybe, someone else discovers it and appropriates it by the time you do remember. The very marvel of being able to keep a piece of chewing gum for over a year's time strongly appealed to Marie and me, so without any romantic reason whatever we decided to get some gum, chew it and keep it in our possession even longer than Hattie had kept hers. Marie's father owned a general merchandise store and among the "generals" was a small confectionery department. It was a good thing for our proposed gum-chewing marathon that he did, for Marie swiped our gum from her father's store, and although we started out with the grimmest and best of intentions, after a few days or a week we had mislaid or lost our gum and would have to begin all over again. The carelessness on our part necessitated other raids on the store, and if we had not finally given up the idea or exchanged it for an easier or more exciting venture Mr. Nickell's entire gum stock would have been mysteriously depleted.
I am sorry that I cannot tell you whether Hattie ever married the young farmer from down Talent way or not. Maybe she is still hopefully and desperately chewing that cherished piece of gum and waiting for the wedding bells to ring.
The days are getting longer now and soon I shall be eating my breakfast in daylight. Both the candle and the memories will have to be shelved and I will be planning on the future of my spring gardening. Tell Peggy that there really was a Hattie and her wad of gum. She would be paying my imagination too much of a compliment if she thought that I made this one up. But, again I add, "it couldn't possibly have happened in any other place but Jacksonville."
Love to you both,Tim Colvig collection
Helen [Mar Colvig Gale Cook]
Don Cameron celebrated his fifth birthday, February 10th, with a delightful juvenile party. The afternoon was spent in various sports dear to children. Those present were Don Cameron, Vance Colvig, Frances Kenney, Laura Neuber, Fleta Ulrich, Gertrude Fay, Genevieve Eckleson, Zela White and Eula Jacobs.
"Jacksonville News," Medford Mail, February 18, 1898, page 3
July 24, 1959
Hi There, "Father J-ville"!
You kin kill yer fatted calf, 'cause your Prodigal Son returneth!! That's right. Looks like he'll be there for the Big Gold Rush Days.
Yep! PINTO, The Village Clown--That Old Web-footed Oregon Appleknocker and His Corny Clarinet--J-ville's Perennial Juvenile Delinquent; Fugitive from the Poolhall Regions and Maker of Fine Cigaret Ashes Since 1892 hopes to say "Howdy" and toot his sour, squeaky E-flat clarinet in The Old Hometown Silver Cornet Band.
He wants to look over The Old U.S. Hotel Op'ry House, where (nearly 60 years ago) he started out on his Wild-and-Checkered Career in Show/Business as a Wand'ring Minstrel when he clown'd on/stage; pranced the hi-steppin' "Cake/Walk" and warbled "Any Rags, Any Bones, Any Bottles Today? There's a Dirty Old Rag-picker A-comin' This Way!"
Happy Days . . . and HAVE FUN!
[signed "Pinto" Colvig]
Typed letter on "Bozo" Capitol Records stationery, addressee unknown (a press release?), SOHS MS9, folder 1
Large crowds braved the heat yesterday afternoon to participate in first day events in the weekend Jacksonville Gold Rush Jubilee. . . . Pinto Colvig, "Bozo the Clown," who was born in Jacksonville, is official host for the two-day event, and led the Kids' Centennial Parade yesterday morning.
"Jacksonville Gold Rush Slate Features Big Panning Contest," Medford Mail Tribune, August 2, 1959, page 1
Clown Shows Interest in Hotel Restoration
Pinto Colvig's Visit Helps to Develop Interest
"But, take my J-ville. I can PICTURE it, but I can't WRITE it. I once spent a pleasant Sunday in Hannibal, Missouri. (Mark Twain's hometown.) I could describe it down to the last pebble. Could do the same with your New York--or Oshkosh . . . but words fail me when it comes to describing J-ville. Because there's no other town quite like it!"
The above is quoted from a letter to Robert Oberfirst in Ocean City, N.J.
"Reconstruct My Old Hometown LIKE IT USED TO WUZ!
"That U.S. HOTEL! Make President Hayes' old room into a BRIDAL 'SWEET' (and charge 150 bucks per night. Worth it!)
"Reconstruct that upstairs OP'RY HOUSE. That dinky little stage. Cheap scenery/paintings on the roller/curtain and wings. Oil footlight lamps. . . .
"Create a Hometown Stock Company and 'ham up' the old mellerdramas. Show old-time movies ('Great American Train Robbery'). The illustrated (and frustrated) singer of old tear-jerkin' ballads (with cracked slides)."
Those words are quoted from a letter to Rudy Tetreault, Jacksonville.
Both the letters were written by a clown who is interested in seeing Jacksonville restored. Oberfirst is Pinto Colvig's literary agent, and Tetreault, who is active in Jacksonville Lion Club activities, is one of Pinto's many friends in this area.
"The Village Clown" lived in Jacksonville between 1892 and 1906, and visited the town and his friends during last year's Gold Rush Jubilee at the invitation of Tetreault and the Lions Club.
Serves As Instrument
His visit, however, was more than just to see and talk with friends. It also served as an instrument in getting other interested people to Jacksonville to see what could be done in restoring it to bring a touch of the past to the present.
Even before The Village Cown visited his old hometown, plans were being discussed and formulated for restoration of the U.S. Hotel, and the reality of restoration appears nearer.
Proceeds from the Gold Rush Jubilee were turned over to the Siskiyou Pioneer Sites Foundation's fund for restoring the hotel. The amount was about $1,000 raised by the Jacksonville Lions Club, which has been instrumental in developing a general interest in Jacksonville as an old mining town, along with the Foundation.
A foundation committee headed by Dr. Frank Haines, associate professor of social studies at Southern Oregon College, will supervise the restoration project, plans for which may be available sometime this summer.
Others on the committee are prominent Jacksonville residents--Everett Ravenor, P. E. Matheny, Art Davies and Ernest McIntyre.
The hotel, which is some 80 years old, has been condemned for some time as unsafe, and most of the restoration work will be in the wall structure, which in some cases needs rebuilding and reinforcement.
But to restore it to the way it was when President Rutherford B. Hayes stayed in it soon after it was opened will be a major job.
Dr. Haines estimated that it would take over $8,000 to restore the building, if most of the material needed is donated. Some material already has been offered, but funds are needed now, he said.
Funds Can Be Raised
He said he believed necessary funds could be raised, and the foundation is interested in receiving donations from valley residents since it is the area which will benefit from any restoration project. However, the foundation is attempting to interest organizations outside this immediate area in the project.
The building itself is in a state of disrepair with windows broken out, cracks in the walls and loose floorboards. Layers of dust cover everything, and assorted litter is strewn about the rooms.
The City of Jacksonville, which owns the building, is using some of the downstairs area for equipment storage, and there is evidence in various rooms that the building has been used by other organizations.
But restoration of the interior is relatively minor, Dr. Haines said, compared to the work necessary on the basic structure.
Could Be First Step
Restoring the U.S. Hotel could be the first step in a general restoration project for the city of Jacksonville, Dr. Haines indicated. He expressed optimism about the restoration of the city, and indicated it would be an economic asset to the valley.
The foundation, however, is more interested in keeping Jacksonville as a "living memorial," and not as a formal tourist attraction such as Williamsburg, Va. Stores would be much the same as now--the only difference would be in restoring the atmosphere to that of an old mining town.
Pinto, too, has expressed this same interest in letters to valley residents, and helped develop interest in such a project during his visit last year.
In one letter to Tetreault, he suggested that Jacksonville streets be named. "And PLEASE change the business section to MAIN STREET. (Why give CALIFORNIA credit?)" he wrote.
Streets should be named after some of the pioneers, he suggested, like Beekman, Hanley and Applegate.
"--and these signs shouldn't be up-to-date. No. They should be prominent, in semi-crude lettering (or burned in like a cattle brand) on rustic, aged boards. And for heaven's sake, rebuild some of those old street lights and lamp posts and stick 'em around town!
"--and what happened to all of the HITCHIN' RACKS & POSTS as in the days of yore?"
It was after Pinto returned to Hollywood, Calif., where he now makes his headquarters, after his visit here, that he wrote to Oberfirst. The letter was in answer to questions Oberfirst asked concerning Pinto's boyhood in Jacksonville, and what kind of a town it was.
In his reply, Pinto painted the picture of Jacksonville as he knew it. The downtown area he described as follows:
"You wanta go Downtown J-ville, so at Pape's Saloon you turn RIGHT . . . and all along MAIN STREET (for a ½ mile) on both sides of the street you'll pass (within spittin' distance):
"3 or 4 General Stores.
"Billy Poole's Barber Shop.
"3 Candy Stores.
"Bum Neuber's 'Banquet' Saloon.
"The J-ville Sentinel & Jackson Co. News (Republican).
"Charley Nickell's The Democratic Times & Job Printing.
"'Doc' Robinson's smelly Drugstore.
"Beekman's Bank & Wells Fargo Agent & School Supplies.
"Johnnie Miller's U.S. Govt. Post Office (also garden seeds, hardware & coffins).
"Mister Kane, the Expert Harness & Saddle Maker & Boot & Shoe Repairs.
"Tom Kenny's Hardware Store.
"Now, go up GUMBO ALLEY and you'll find Zoop Coulter--The Pioneer Sign & Carriage Painter. Next door is Otto Biede, Tin Smith, Glazier and Expert Scythe Sharpener.
"So, you come back down the alley and on both sides of the street you'll find The United States Hotel & Op'ry House.
"Luke Ryan's Dry Goods Store.
"Geo. Lewis' Dry Goods Store.
"Mrs. Taylors 'Elite' Boarding House (for particular people).
"Shacks . . . and Donegan's Blacksmith Shop). Across street is Charley Basye's Blacksmith Shop.
"Now you're somewhere at other end of MAIN STREET--near The Old Grist Mill."
Jacksonville may never be restored to those days as Pinto describes and remembers it, but if the Siskiyou Pioneer Sites Foundation's program gathers momentum, Jacksonville could become one of the largest attractions in the state.
"Because there's no other town quite like it!"
Medford Mail Tribune, January 24, 1960, page 14
Sixty-three years ago Pinto danced the Cakewalk in the U.S. Hotel in Jacksonville, and sang his first song in public, "Any Rags." The act was in blackface, with a high silk hat, cane and tails.
"Jacksonville Jubilee To Star Village Clown," Ashland Daily Tidings, July 30, 1962
Memorial services were held at the Workmen hall, Wednesday evening, under the auspices of the Banner Lodge, No. 23, A.O.U.W. A large crowd of invited guests were present. The following program was rendered: Invocation by Rev. S. H. Jones; song, "Gathering Home," by Misses Muller, Bryant, Colvig, Messrs. Thompson and Barnes and Mrs. G. Newbury; address, Wm. Colvig. The audience then repaired to the banquet room and enjoyed a most excellent lunch. Then followed a song by Miss Susie Applegate and brothers; recitation, Verne Whipp; song, "See-Saw," by Lena Ulrich, accompanied by Miss Emma Ulrich on organ and Miss Birdie Schmidt on mandolin; recitations, Gertrude Whipp and Vance Colvig; duet, Misses Muller and Helen Colvig; recitation, "Chariot Race," Miss Genevieve Reames; cornet duet, Prof. Schmidt and Miss Schmidt; song by the choir, "Till We Meet Again"; mandolin selection, Leon Hanna; song, "Grandfather's Spectacles," Emma Wendt. The exercises were nicely arranged and the performers did nicely.
"Jacksonville News," Medford Mail, January 20, 1899, page 3
Promotion Exercises.Medford Mail, May 22, 1899, page 1
The promotion exercises of the eighth grade of the Medford public schools will be held in the Medford Opera House on the evening of May 25. An elaborate program has been prepared by the pupils, which will be rendered at that time. The class colors are pink and green, the class flowers pink carnations and fern; the class motto "Rowing, not drifting." The class roll is as follows:
Gladys Fansher, Berna Roberts, Grace Taylor, Ethel Eifert, Vera Hendrickson, Ruby Burke, Mildred Young, Armond Taylor, Everett Corey, Vance Colvig, George Baker, Tess Marshall, Curtis Anderson, Grace Dent, Berna Roberts, Kittie Clark, Meda Bish, Ivy Boeck, Emmerson Merrick, Ward Keizur, Chas. Boyden, Frank H. Ray, Ina Cochran, Mary Stevenson, Beulah McKeever, Wray Curry, Walter Merrick, Edgar Jones, Carey Bundy, Harry Porter, Herbert Parker, Harry Baker, Edith Carson, Eva Goode, Jessie Purdy, Ellie Sage, Verna Griffin, Nina Brobeck, Lloyd Baker, Carlton Shirley, Leslie Cutting, Mary Deuel, Ione Flynn, Mollie Merriman, Belle Shirley, Amy Wolter, Jeannette Osgood, Nellie Evans, Margaret Kerr, Lucille Snyder, Louis Washau, Ruby Bailey, Margaret Emig, Dora Brumble.
The wedding of Clarence L. Reames and Miss Clara Colvig took place at noon on Thursday last, at the home of the bride's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wm. M. Colvig, on Oregon Street, and was a very charming affair. But few persons were present, and they were either members of the families of the contracting parties or very intimate friends. Mr. Reames is the junior member of the firm of Reames Bros., of Gold Hill, and very popular with his fellow men. The bride is a highly cultured and very refined young lady. Rev. S. H. Jones performed the ceremony, and Zela White and Master Vance Colvig acted as bridesmaid and best man. Mr. and Mrs. Reames left immediately for Gold Hill, where a cozy home had been fitted up for the happy couple.
"Jacksonville News," Medford Mail, December 29, 1899, page 3
Oregon Street, Jacksonville, Oregon
William M. Colvig, 54, lawyer, born Mo. Sept. 1845, father born Va., mother Ohio
Addie V. Colvig, 44, born Ore. Jan. 1856, father born Ohio, mother Va.
Hellen M. Colvig, 17, born Ore. Feb. 1883
Mary F. Colvig, 13, born Ore. Dec. 1886
Donald L. Colvig, 11, born Ore. Nov. 1888
Vance D. Colvig, 7, born Ore. Sept. 1892
Annie Birdsey, 13, born Ore. Nov. 1885, niece
U.S. Census, enumerated June 5, 1900
Pinto Colvig in Jacksonville School, 1900
The battleship Oregon, an excellent miniature of the original, built by Voyle Bros., was manned by Don and Vance Colvig.
"Our National Holiday," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, July 11, 1901, page 5
There were three divisions to the parade. . . . The second division was led by the handsomely rigged battleship Oregon, Master Vance Colvig in command. This handsome little ship, designed by Mr. Francis Voyle, was a surprise to all who saw it. The float representing our army and navy was well planned and carried out the idea of protection in full.
"Jacksonville's Celebration," Medford Mail, July 12, 1901, page 3
The following is the programme of the literary and musical entertainment to be given at the U.S. Hall Saturday evening, Nov. 30th, by Jacksonville's branch of the Society of Christian Endeavor: Piano duet, Peter Schmol, Florence DeBar, Agnes Love. Minuet, Ruth Peters, Frances Kenney, Fleta Ulrich, Vance Colvig, Vivien Beach, Donald Cameron. . . . Solo, "Coon, Coon, Coon," Vance DeBar Colvig. . . .
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, November 21, 1901, page 7
Hi! Would you be interested to know that my first job in [the] newspaper/publishing business was way back during the early 1900s, on the Jacksonville SENTINEL?
An itinerant printer named Miles Overholt (an O. Henry type) hit town and took over the Sentinel (I believe from a Mr. Meserve?). Overholt, a likable guy, mixed with the younger gay-blade set. Besides editing the paper, he concocted a comic booklet titled "TANGLEFOOT" Magazine (so called after a sticky FLY paper by the same name). For some time I had been pestering him for a job about the print shop . . . cartooning, writing, printer's devil . . . anything! So, eventually came a day when he gave me my first job . . . to catch for him 250 house flies: Which I did. A fruit jar full. Then, we suffocated them with camphor. My net pay was to be $1.50, but my job didn't end there. Now, I was to painstakingly place a drop of glue on [the] center of each PAGE ONE; and carefully attach a fine, fat fly thereon.
Yep! You guessed it. Or did you? The printing on that page was: NOTICE. THIS is the FLY-LEAF!
At the time I thought it was a funny gimmick . . . and I STILL do!
"Letter from Pinto," Jacksonville Sentinel, August 31, 1962, page 1
Pinto Colvig Returns to Jacksonville to Reminisce,Vance DeBar (Pinto) Colvig, famous Bozo the Clown from the early-day Ringling Brothers [sic] circus, ambled into his hometown of Jacksonville early last week in time for his 70th birthday recently.
Observe 70th Birthday
By. JOE COWLEY
Mail Tribune Staff Writer
Nobody knew quite how he arrived; he was just there. He wanted to look at the little town without the distraction of people pressing invitations upon him--even though Pinto is one who seems to love all of humanity and considers everything one endless pleasant joke.
Thursday morning he was having breakfast with Mayor E. O. Graham in Graham's Polar Bar restaurant when this reporter walked in and caught him in mid-story. Bouncing slightly on his toes, he raised himself to his full slender height with arms waving freely and sharp black eyes twinkling behind his glasses. His animation, full head of black hair and agility made him seem much younger.
Recalls C. C. Beekman
"We're going to see ol' Beek's house? Good! Good! By ol' Beek I don't mean any disrespect. That's what all us kids called him," Pinto said.
"This is the way we used to do. Y'know how kids are! We would see him coming along the street. All dressed up in his black suit with tails and market basket over his arm. Then one of us would go up to him and ask, 'Please sir, Mr. Beekman, could you tell us the time?'
"'Hmm--ah, yes, my good young fellow--let's see now--.' Then he would set his basket down. Reach back into the pocket in his tails, pull out a big handkerchief, blow his nose, reach into his vest pocket and pull out his big gold watch, adjust his eyeglasses, snap open his watch (which I'll swear looked as big as a dinner plate to this boy's eyes), squint at it, and say, 'Ah, yesss, my good young fellow, it is exactly--ah--let me see--8 o'clock. You're Judge Colvig's son, aren't you? Well good day to you sir!'''
Other Man Remembered
There were many other stories. One about Don Russell, now president of Southern Pacific railroad--another Jacksonville boy.
"Y'know, we used to think he was a sissy. Probably the main reason was that he was so polite to his mother. Always dressed in a little suit. We used to jus' itch to get him out behind a barn and teach him to cuss and swear, how to chew and smoke tobacco.
"Read about how he came up the hard way, though. As a gandy dancer! Y'know, one of those guys who . . ." Here Pinto illustrated by going through the motions of pounding a spike into a railroad tie.
After telling this story and others to Jacksonville Councilman George Brewer and Don Wendt and the mayor, the councilmen and Colvig climbed into Brewer's car and drove to Pinto's old home on Oregon St., now occupied by the C. D. Godleys.
In spite of all his joking, the clown became serious for a few fleeting moments. His eyes became a little misty as he said, "I just wanted to walk into that little house, stick my head in the door and say, 'Thank you, Mom and Dad, for having me born and raised in Jacksonville--this fine little town! Never did like to visit graves and this is my tribute to them. Bless 'em!"
In front of the little wood-frame house, everyone got out of the car and slowly walked around the yard with Pinto as he continued his stream of quips and reminiscing.
Visits Old Room
After greeting the lady of the house affectionately, he asked to see where he was born and walked into a small bedroom now occupied by a small child's dolls and sat down on a bed in the corner.
"This is where I was born. Right here in this corner. This old doctor always gave a silver spoon to the baby. Why, I dunno. But he always did."
From there, it was a short trip to the Beekman house. On the front steps Pinto took a broom from the hands of the caretaker, Mrs. Brewer, wife of the councilman, and swept off the steps.
"Look, I'm sweeping off the steps for old Beek just like I used to do."
In his own mind, the tall, thin, elderly man became a freckled-face boy (hence the name of Pinto) once more as he peered at all the pictures inside the home, read the 23rd Psalm from the open Bible which has Mr. Beekman's reading glasses on top of it and listened to an old gramophone in the front parlor.
Peering intently at one of the pictures in the family sitting room, Colvig chuckled softly to himself and remarked, "Why, there's old Grandma M--. See, she has her hand down behind her skirt as if she is hiding something. Probably her pipe. Didn't want anyone to know she smoked a pipe."
Looking at other people in the picture of [the] old Jacksonville Pioneer Society, Pinto recognized himself as a boy sitting on his father's lap in the back row and his mother in front.
The former Jacksonville boy examined every room and article in it with minute care, then stepped gingerly down the front steps and across the street to the Brewers' home where he saw colored slides of the old Jacksonville Silver Cornet Band wagon, bright and shiny in red and gold paint, leading the Jacksonville Jubilee parade this year.
Pinto's attitude toward his old home town is summed up in the words he wrote in the Beekman house register--"Jacksonville kid since Sept. 11, 1892-- Pinto Colvig."
Medford Mail Tribune, September 18, 1962, page 16
At one time we had a willow whistle band with Pinto Colvig as conductor. He would write the music; instead of notes he would use numbers: every hole on the thing would have a number, and that would correspond to the number on the music.
One summer Pinto organized a kid circus--trained dogs, trapeze, snake man magician, and our whistle band played. Pinto was band leader, blackface clown and ringmaster with a big whip he would crack. As I remember, the admission was two sticks of gum or 10 marbles.
"Recollections by George W. Wendt," typescript 1970, SOHS MS115
Masters Don and Vance Colvig, accompanied by Geo. Birdseye, are spending their vacation with their grandmother, Mrs. C. Birdseye, near Woodville.
One of the most successful events of the week was the "American Beauty" party given by Miss Helen Colvig on Tuesday evening. This is one of a series of original and unique parties given by Miss Colvig this winter, and was a very pretty affair. Music, games and dancing was the order of the evening. Dainty refreshments were served. It was past midnight when the merry crowd dispersed--one and all voting the American Beauty a success. Those present were Misses Laura and Lucinda Reames, Sophia Muller, Marie Nickell, Gertrude McCallen, Messrs. P. Donegan, Louis Ulrich, Chas. Nunan and Irwin Eckelson.
"Jacksonville Items," Medford Mail, January 3, 1902, page 3
Mary and Vance Colvig are spending a portion of their vacation with their grandmother, Mrs. Clara Birdsey of Foots Creek.
"Jacksonville News," Medford Mail, January 11, 1902, page 3
Misses Mary and Ruth Peter, Zepha Basye and Donald Colvig, pupils of Mrs. E. E. Gore's musical class in Jacksonville, took part in the program of the pupils' recital at the Presbyterian Church in Medford Saturday evening, March 1st.
"Jacksonville Items," Medford Mail, March 7, 1902, page 3
At 10 o'clock the parade was formed, and marshaled by Alex Orme, the grand marshal, passed through the principal streets in the following order . . . 14. Jacksonville Base Ball Club, with Vance Colvig as mascot, leading a goat.
"Jacksonville's Celebration," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, July 10, 1902, page 4
Mary and Vance Colvig are spending a portion of their vacation with their grandmother, Miss Clara Birdseye, of Foots Creek.
"Jacksonville News," Medford Mail, July 11, 1902, page 3
The procession, headed by Sheriff Orme, as grand marshal, marched in the following order: . . . Jacksonville's baseball nine in suits of blue and gold afoot preceded by Vance Colvig leading the team's mascot, a goat, wearing the blue and gold. . . .
"Jacksonville's Celebration," Medford Mail, July 11, 1902, page 3
Mrs. C. S. Birdseye and grandchildren, George Birdseye and Mary and Vance Colvig, were visiting at the home of W. V. Jones Sunday.
"Woodville Items," Medford Mail, July 18, 1902, page 3
Master Vance DeBar Colvig entertained a party of twelve of his friends on Saturday, Sept. 13th, the occasion being his tenth birthday anniversary.
"Jacksonville News," Medford Mail, September 19, 1902, page 3
"[In 1903], the Verna Felton Players came to town from up in Portland. Little Verna Felton (who stars as Hilda Crocker on KOIN-TV's 'Pete and Gladys' show, which starts [its] new season Monday night) was the Shirley Temple of her day. She was something, with her striped stockings and her little hat with a flower on it. I was a loony, skinny-legged kid with uncombed hair.
"But I applied for a speaking part in the show, 'The Power of Wealth,' [by William Joseph Lincoln] which was running for a week in the United States Hotel opera house, set there in the maples.
"After a lot of persuasion, they gave me three and a half words. I was to walk on stage carrying a cat, go over to a prop well, and say, 'Psst! Let's duck it!'
"But I was so entranced working with Verna that I just stood there on stage, grinned at the audience, and held onto the cat. She pulled and the cat started yowling, but I didn't let go until she took off her shoe and hit me on the head."
Pinto Colvig, quoted by Francis Murphy, "Behind the Mike," Oregonian, Portland, September 18, 1961, page 37
Verna Felton, February 23, 1901 Oregonian
Remember that little Verna Felton appears in "The Power of Wealth," which was written for her, at the matinee Saturday afternoon.
There will be a matinee at the U.S. Hall Saturday afternoon, when little Verna Felton, the theatrical wonder, will appear in a play especially written for her, entitled "The Power of Wealth." It is pronounced first class by all who have seen it.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, April 29, 1903, page 1
A FIRST-CLASS TROUPE IN SOUTHERN OREGON
Has Been Playing at Ashland and Jacksonville--Will Be in Medford Next Week.
The Allen Stock Company, which concluded a week's engagement at Jacksonville Saturday night, is now at Ashland, where it already had played a week. It is one of the very best that ever visited Southern Oregon. It can be truly said that never during their history have the people of those towns enjoyed a more royal treat, and their appreciation was shown in constantly increasing houses from first to last.
Besides being a company composed of high-class talent, its personnel is quiet and courteous, and the deportment of all in every way that of well-bred and self-respecting ladies and gentlemen.
The music at the open-air concerts during the afternoon and at each performance is worth much more than the price of admission, while the plays are presented with a refinement and delicacy possible only with true artists.
Each presentation is staged with appropriate scenery, while the costumes are rich and striking, and add much to each performance.
The company may well be proud of its cast. With the little heroine, Verna Felton, the child wonder, who apparently acts without knowing it, and always says and does the right thing at the right time; the modest and cultivated Miss Ethel Roberts, her ability, grace and rich modulation never fail to please the audience, compel its admiration and enlist its sympathies. Miss Dorathy Davis is a happy and faithful portrayer of human sentiment and passion, magnetic and forceful. Miss Georgia Francis, like the energetic and many-sided Dutchman, Wm. Bond, of rapid speech and acrobatic tendencies, always creates a broad ripple and makes telling hits.
It would be impracticable to mention specifically each member of the company, since there are twenty or more of them. The following are the leading artists, and will be seen to good advantage in their several parts: Hayden Stevenson, Sydney Platt, Reginald Barker, Wm. Bond, Russell Reed, Will Walling.
The specialties are by Frank Walsh, a splendid singer with a heavy baritone voice, of whom the audience never gets to see or hear half enough; Chas. Royal and Little Verna.
Democratic Times, May 6, 1903, page 1
Vance Colvig is visiting relatives in Woodville and vicinity.
"About Woodville," Jacksonville Sentinel, July 24, 1903, page 4
Vance Colvig, who has been visiting his grandmother for several weeks, returned home to Jacksonville last Friday.
"Down About Woodville," Jacksonville Sentinel, August 7, 1903, page 7
A number of music lovers of Jacksonville visited Ashland last Sunday to hear the Ellery band concert, and they report the music of high class and the band one of the great organizations of the country. Those attending from Jacksonville were C. J. Nunan, Mrs. Josephine Russel, Mrs. Susie Neil, Miss Frances Nunan, M. M. Taylor, and Wm. M. Colvig and his sons Donald and Vance.
"Happenings Hereabouts," Jacksonville Sentinel, October 30, 1903, page 5
A Youthful Gang of Thieves.Considerable of a sensation was created in Jacksonville a few days since by the discovery that a number of small boys, the oldest of whom is not more than 13 years, have for some time past been engaged in systematic larceny. It seems that they had a regularly formed organization, duly officered, and operated in a businesslike manner, distributing the proceeds of their thievery as a corporation would its dividends.
One of the leaders of the gang was detected in stealing from the till of a saloon in which he was employed in a small way, and will be taken to the Oregon Reform School. While a confederate of the same age stood in front of the building watching the movements of the barkeeper while he was employed outside, the other boy would help himself to the nickels in a drawer. A low whistle from his colleague would warn him of impending danger, and he then left by the way he came. This had been progressing some time, and the youthful thieves probably secured $50 or $60 before being trapped. The depredations came to light through the peaching of a boy who had heard what was going on.
To many it seems that all of those boys who were engaged in this and like depredations should have been sent to the reform school, if any.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, November 4, 1903, page 1 Pinto's peers.
Pupils neither tardy nor absent: . . . Vance Colvig . . .
"Report Public School for October," Jacksonville Sentinel, November 13, 1903, page 7
Vocal duet "Any Rags," Donald Colvig, Vance Colvig.
"Public School Entertainment," Jacksonville Sentinel, April 22, 1904, page 6
Vance Colvig came in from Uniontown, where he had spent a week at the home of Wilbur Cameron. Master Vance had several lively experiences while on his outing, one of which was to be in at the killing of a coyote which Wilbur Cameron shot on a hill near his place.
"Local Notes," Jacksonville Sentinel, June 24, 1904, page 1
Vance DeBar Colvig, of Jacksonville, visited here Saturday and Sunday.
"Woodville Whispers," Jacksonville Sentinel, August 5, 1904, page 8
Vance DeBar Colvig is visiting relatives here.
"Woodville Whispers," Jacksonville Sentinel, August 26, 1904, page 4
Vance Colvig and Albert Lenard of Jacksonville spent Saturday afternoon on this creek.
"Poormans Creek Items," Jacksonville Sentinel, October 28, 1904, page 8
Names of pupils neither absent nor tardy: . . . Vance Colvig . . .
"Report of the Public Schools of Jacksonville for the Month Ending November 30th," Jacksonville Sentinel, December 9, 1904, page 6
"My family was always musical, and somehow I picked up the E-flat clarinet. I started out playing with the town band, and then I was playing for everything. When I'd hit the high notes, I screwed my face up and looked cross-eyed. I guess I was just meant to be a clown. And it finally happened when I was about twelve. My dad took me to the Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition at Portland in 1905. But I never got past the Crazy House on the Midway. There was a guy outside beating a drum and roaring 'Hubba Hubba!" I went up to him and told him I could play squeaky clarinet. 'O.K. Come back tomorrow, and I'll give you a listen,' he said. 'No, sir, I'll be back today,' and I ran back to the hotel for my clarinet. I went to work that day, just 'squawking.' And the next day the guy put the clown white on me for the first time. Then he made me put on an old derby, and some big old clothes, and he stepped back and took a look at me. 'Now you make a good bozo,' he told me. A bozo clown in those days was a tramp clown.
"I never was able to get circuses and carnivals out of my blood after that. Wintertimes, I'd go to school, but the minute spring came, I'd turn up missing. I've hoboed a lot of miles across the country and back, eating stew in hobo camps down by the tracks. I even went to Oregon State College for three years, but every spring--off to the circus. Or the vaudeville circuit. Always with my screechy clarinet. I didn't know when I was going to school whether I wanted to be a clown, draw cartoons, write, hobo, or be a musician. So I wrapped it all up and made stew out of it."
Pinto Colvig, quoted in "A Brief History of Vance De Bar Colvig," Southern Oregon Historical Society 1980, page 4
And of course, there was that time (age 13) – Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition world's fair (Portland 1905) when I first put on white grease paint and became a CLOWN. Ha! From burnt cork to clown white! On "The Trail" (midway) being a small-town hick, "the Crazy House" became my favorite spot. [It was actually named the Temple of Mirth.] "Habba Habba," a clown (whose makeup was somewhat cannibalistic) [Harry L. Blitz] owned the Crazy House concession; beating a bass drum and continuously yelling in a high pitched voice, "Habba habba habba" and collecting the tickets. When I told him that I made funny faces while squealing on an E-flat clarinet, he gave me a tryout. Bass drum & clarinet – 2-piece band. Somehow it attracted a bigger crowd; so he dug down in his trunk and hung an old misfit suit on me; smeared my face with clown white grease paint; reddened my nose; slapped a battered old derby over my head, and into a pair of size 14 shoes. Paid me a dollar a day (and all the sandwiches and goop I could eat). Also got me a season pass to all of the shows on "The Trail." Naturally, the Gal Show – "That Bevy of Bee-u-tee-ful Broadway Belles" – those painted, half-dressed babes – enjoyed kidding this small-town appleknocker … and he loved it!
Next best show was "The Streets of Cairo," where I would ride their camels, and sometimes toot a double-reeded Chinese Oriental horn for "Little Egypt's" hootchy-ma-kootch dance. Betwixt shows I would write "love" letters for the manager (an Egyptian who was in love with a carnival dame (named Corrine Somebody) back East … He could neither read nor write (English) … But WOW! this chorine sure could write some hot love notes (which I had to read aloud to him). And in return I'd write some hotter ones right back; read them to him, and he'd sign his name. He paid me off in all the fancy Egyptian cigarettes I needed. (It was impossible in those days for a minor to purchase tobacco.)
Pinto Colvig, Clowns Is People, 1935, Southern Oregon Historical Society MS9
"When I was 13 years old, I had so many freckles that kids called me Pinto, the Human Leopard. I was an E-flat clarinet player, so I came up to Portland in 1905 to look at the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition.
"Portland used to have a well-known clown back in those days. His name was Habba Habba, and he had a ring in his nose like a cannibal. He used to say 'habba - habba - habba' while he was beating on a bass drum. He had a concession called the Crazy House [actually named the Temple of Mirth].
"I went up to him and said I had a clarinet and when I hit the high notes I couldn't help looking crosseyed. He tried me out and everyone laughed. It brought a big crowd.
"He said, you should be a clown like I am. So he took me back and opened a trunk and the moths flew out. He put a big red nose and a white face on me and said, 'Now you are a bozo clown (with a small b).' A bozo clown is a tramp clown like Emmett Kelly.
"I got four bits a day and all the goop I could eat like popcorn and peanuts. I got free tickets to all the concessions up and down The Trail, and everyone knew me.
"Over in the Streets of Cairo I met an Egyptian who let people ride on his camels. He was in love with a carny gal named Corina, but he couldn't read or write.
"So he gave me his cigarettes to write his love letters for him. In Jayville if you weren't smoking by the age of seven, you weren't a man. Then she'd write letters back and he'd call, 'Hey, keed, I got a letter from Corina. You read.' Then I'd get more cigarettes and camel rides. I think she was after his money. That's how I became a clown."
Francis Murphy, "Behind the Mike," Oregonian, Portland, September 18, 1961, page 37
There was no concession at the exposition named the "Crazy House"; Pinto is apparently remembering the Temple of Mirth. Originally built (apparently) for the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, it also appeared in 1904 at the St. Louis world's fair, then in 1905 in Portland. It was moved to Venice, California in 1906.
"Good Bye Liza Jane," Vance Colvig
"School Entertainment," Jacksonville Sentinel, March 24, 1905, page 3
Wm. Colvig chaperoned a party of young boys on a camping trip to Squaw Lake. They left early Sunday morning. The party consisted of Mr. Colvig, Don and Vance Colvig, Charles Dunford, David Cronemiller and Jess Thrasher.
"Jacksonville News," Medford Mail, August 25, 1905, page 8
For Examination Commencing May 14, 1908:
Vance Colvig--FailRegister of Uniform Eighth Grade Examination, Jackson County, Oregon, SOHS MS 912, page 5.
Civil Government: 26
English Grammar: 37
U.S. History: 44
Scores listed are out of a possible 100. Pinto's name also appears among those taking (or planning to take) the test on June 11, but with no scores recorded. Curiously, Vance was apparently not excluded from the "promotion exercises":
Vance Colvig has received a postal photo of the junk shop recently taken from the stomach of Frank Durga of North Bend, as described in the Tribune recently. Among the articles are three jackknives, four keys, 17 horseshoe nails, three 5-cent pieces, 15 dimes, one fish hook and 2745 pieces of glass.
"Social and Personal," Medford Daily Tribune, July 14, 1908, page 4
Vance Colvig has accepted a position in Russel's confectionery store and is serving "freckled specials" to their many patrons.
"Jacksonville Items," Medford Daily Tribune, August 4, 1908, page 4
Vance Colvig will soon be in camp with friends.
"Butte Falls Items," Medford Daily Tribune, August 5, 1908, page 3
Vance Colvig is compounding light drinks at Russel's confectionery.
"Local News," Jacksonville Post, August 8, 1908, page 6
Other evenings they were entertained by Pinto Colvig, son of Judge Wm. Colvig, who sat on the counter and played tunes on the nail puller.
"Boom Day Clerk for Toggery Bill Tells About It," Medford Mail Tribune, August 15, 1930, page 4
Pinto (center) in the Medford town band, 1908
"Ki Ki, the Haba Haba Man," as he is known in the show world or the "monkey man" of street fair fame, has again won back his wife, formerly Miss Lottie E. Wilson, to whom he was wedded in Muscatine on September 10, 1900, and who deserted him at Seattle last summer. Shortly after the close of the Alaskan exposition the young wife secured a divorce from the picturesque spieler, but now she has returned to him, and they were again united in marriage at Portland on Wednesday. The couple were married here during the street fair, at which time the monkey man was heard daily barking for a show on Sycamore and Second streets. He was dressed and acted like a large monkey, and his "Haba Haba" cry drew hundreds to the tent before every performance.
The bride is 26 years old, as against the even two score years of the Haba Haba Man who, in private life, is known as Harry L. Blitz. . . .
For twenty-four years the Haba Haba Man has been wearing his strange rig and
shouting his strange cry, which, once heard at the Seattle fair, was repeated by thousands of children in imitation of the man with the monkey face.
"Monkey Man Wins Wife Back Again," Muscatine Journal, Muscatine, Iowa, February 11, 1910, page 4
Mrs. R. G. Gale entertained informally at dinner Friday at her attractive home on Mistletoe Street. Carnations and ferns were the decorations used, and the effect was most artistic. Those present were: Mrs. Edgar Hafer, Miss Nelson, Mr. Donald Colvig, Mr. Vance Colvig and Dr. and Mrs. Gale.
* * *
Messrs. Donald and Vance Colvig returned Friday from Portland, where they have been attending school. They will spend the Easter holidays with their parents.
"In Medford's Social Realm," Medford Mail Tribune, March 27, 1910, page 9
Colvig Donald L, stenographer Colvig & Reames, bds 8 S Laurel
Colvig Fred L, clerk L B Haskins, res 244 S Central av
Colvig Vance D, musician, bds 8 S Laurel
COLVIG WM M (Colvig & Reames), res 8 Laurel
COLVIG & REAMES (Wm M Colvig, C L Reames), Lawyers Medford National
Polk's Jackson, Josephine and Douglas County Directory 1910
Vance Colvig of this city has just grabbed his first laurels as a portrayer of the vanities and peculiarities of mankind, by winning the amateur prize offered by Judge each week with one of his cartoons. Vance is home from Portland on a short visit, accompanied by his brother Don, whose artistic temperament leans toward music.The boys are on a short business trip and will return to Portland Tuesday to continue their studies.
Vance for a number of months has been dabbling more or less with his pencil and recently went to Portland to take up the matter seriously. He now plans to put in several months of hard work and hopes to develop his talent to a point where it will be of some commercial value.
"I hope soon to be a member of a class Homer Davenport is thinking of taking in Portland," states Vance, "and make greater headway. I am number one on his list, and I hope he will decide to open a studio."
In regard to winning the amateur prize in Judge over several hundred competitors, Vance states that the suggestion came to him at the Orpheum while listening to a pair of comedians.
"'Tis the simplest thing in the world--just go and hear a good joke--then draw a picture to fit it."
In the meantime the young man's friends are constantly being regaled with clever caricatures of themselves.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 28, 1910, page 4
8 Laurel Street, Medford, Oregon
William J. Warner, 26, postal clerk, born in Nebraska, head of household
Mary C. Warner, 23, born in Oregon, wife
William M. Colvig, 64, lawyer, born in Missouri, father-in-law
Addie Colvig, 53, born in Oregon, mother-in-law
Donald Colvig, 21, stenographer, born in Oregon, brother-in-law
Vance Colvig, 17, born in Oregon, brother-in-law
Ira J. Dodge, 29, real estate agent, born in Minnesota, boarder
Harry Houston, 29, real estate agent, born in Minnesota, boarder
U.S. Census, enumerated April 18-19, 1910
Mrs. F. D. Arrington of the Heinz Apartments gave an enjoyable party Wednesday evening, June 15, in honor of Miss Marie Dewey, of Nampa, Idaho. The guests were Misses Edna Brockwell, Paloma Blumenthal, Ruby McKinnon, Eva Dryfoos, Violet Jones, and Lester Seed, Eddie Blumenthal, Don Colvig, Vance Colvig, Walter Lambert, George Kizer.
"Social Events of the Past Week," Oregonian, Portland, June 19, 1910, page 4
"In Medford's Social Realm," Medford Mail Tribune, July 3, 1910, page B1
Vance Colvig is once more on his old job with the canal company.
Vance Colvig has returned from Portland to spend the summer with his parents here.
"Social and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, weekly edition, July 21, 1910, page 7
Vance Colvig has forsaken cartooning for a while and will take a position with the Southern Pacific in the local depot.
"Social and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, July 26, 1910, page 5
Mrs. William Colvig has returned from Portland, where she has been staying with her sons, Vance and Donald, for the past few months.
"In Medford's Social Realm," Medford Mail Tribune, August 7, 1910, page B1
A most enjoyable progressive dinner was given Monday evening by some of the members of the younger set. The first course of the dinner was served at the home of Miss Hazel Davis, with Miss Ruth Merrick assisting the hostess. The dining room was prettily decorated in nasturtiums. The second course was served at the Deuel home, the Misses Kentner, Jeannette Osgood and the Misses Marshall acting as hostesses. The third course was served at the Hutchinson home, with Miss Fern Hutchinson and her guest, Miss Alice Wehring of Portland, as hostesses. Masses of sweet peas and black-eyed Susans were used in decorating the home. The last course was served on the lawn of the Worrell home, Miss Alice Street assisting Miss Helen Worrell, the lawn being lighted by Japanese lanterns. After the dinner the party drove to the Natatorium and finished the evening with a dance, where Mesdames Hutchinson, Vawter, Lumsden and George Davis acted as chaperones. The Hazelrigg orchestra furnished the music.
Those present were: Misses Alice Streets, Mamie Deuel, Jeannette Osgood, Lucile Marshall, Star Marshall, Ida Lee Kentner, Ruth Merrick, Bess Kentner, Hazel Davis, Fern Hutchinson, Alice Wehrung and Helen Worrell; Messrs. Herbert Kentner, Curtis Anderson, Albert Brown, Vance Colvig, Don Colvig, Lee Root, Alex. Budge, Weston Rider, Fletcher Fish, Bob Deuel, Treve Lumsden and Jack Switzer.
"In Medford's Social Realm," Medford Mail Tribune, August 21, 1910, page 9
Colvig Joins York's Band.
Vance Colvig, Medford's rising young cartoonist, leaves Sunday evening for Portland, where he will join York's band in an extensive tour.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 16, 1910, page 1
Medford Mail Tribune, September 19, 1910. Cartoon of Judge Colvig by Pinto Colvig.
JOURNAL CARRIERS' BAND FAIR ATTRACTION
(Special Dispatch to the Journal)
Pendleton, Or., Sept. 27.--One of the attractions of the district fair is the Journal Carriers' Band. Much praise of this harmonious institution is heard on every hand. It is an organization of 35 pieces, and 34 members are with the band now here. Therefore it is the largest band that has yet furnished music for the district fair.
The Journal band is under the management of David H. Smith, of the Journal circulation department, and he arrived with the band last evening. Mr. Smith will return to Portland tonight, but will be back in Pendleton for the closing day of the fair and roundup.
The band is under the direction of Major Charles E. York, a veteran bandsman, and a good one. The instrumentation and personnel of the Journal band is as follows:
Director--Major Charles E. York.
E flat clarinet--Vance D. Colvig.
B flat clarinets--Ellis Dedel, J. B. Venbaner, L. L. Ulbrand, C. Nielson, B. Hall.
Alto saxophone--Yaldeman Fiuck.
Tenor saxophone--Walter Ritter.
Cornets--Emil Janin, Frank Mueller, Frank Chipman, M. B. Meyers, C. W. Kennedy, Maurice Hyde.
Horns--Earl Griffith, Chester O'Neil, J. M. Ward.
Trombones--S. Kinman, Louis Janin, Frank Robinson, Jake Mueller.
Baritones--Lloyd Riches, Charles Faulkner.
Basses--James Clow, Clyde Sheets.
Drums--Roy Thomson, W. W. Allen, F. W. Coffyn.
Oregon Journal, Portland, September 27, 1910, page 10
The alumni office hadn't heard from a famous alumnus, Bozo the Clown, for some time and wondered what he was doing. Bozo (Pinto Colvig, '15) let us know right now that he's still clowning and just getting warmed up.
THE OREGON STATER
After rambling all over the country as a hobo-newspaper cartoonist and writer--and E-flat clarinet squeaker; having finished a tour with York's concert band at the first Pendleton Roundup (1910), I hobo'd my way from Portland to Corvallis (on the old Westside steam railroad) and landed in Corvallis October 10, 1910 (10-10-'10), where I met a lot of my hometown Medford guys. I was on my way to San Francisco to join a band en route to Australia; but when Cap' Beard learned that I played E-flat clarinet, he encouraged me to sign up for a course in [the] art department so I could play in the band.
Farley Doty McLauf was art professor. I also took a little ancient history from dear old "Jackie" Horner; mainly because he was an interesting and likable character. On the other hand I majored in campustry and canoe-ology! OAC had a good band in those days. About 60 pieces. No girls! No slick chick drum majorettes! Dammit! But we had fun--especially on tours to Roseburg Strawberry Festival each spring. On weekends (weather permitting) I'd get the urge and take off on hobo trips; returning Monday a.m. in time for first period. Come early springtime, however, and the green grass, elephants and Call-of-the-Calliope would lure me back to the circus, where I clowned, played Big Top and often pinch-hit as "barker" when our big show announcer showed up too stewed to spiel!
Left college Spring of 1913 to do vaudeville stint on Pantages circuit. Later rejoined Al G. Barnes Big 4 (Yeah, I said FOUR) Ring Wild Animal Circus. Continued with them for two more seasons. My crazy activities from then 'til now you'll find in the enclosed biography printed by Capitol Records, from whom I've recorded the "BOZO, The Clown" albums.
Excerpt, "Incoming Mail," The Oregon Stater, Oregon Agricultural College, February 1959, page 11
Mr. Vance Colvig returned from the O.A.C. last week and will spend the holidays with his parents.
"Society," Medford Mail Tribune, December 25, 1910, page 8
Vance D. Colvig, of Corvallis, is registered at the Cornelius.
"Personal Mention," Oregonian, January 30, 1911, page 9
Vance Colvig, who has been working in Corvallis, arrived today to visit his mother and father.
"Snapshots at Local News," Medford Mail Tribune, March 30, 1911
Harry Porter, Fred Strang and Vance Colvig are visiting at Salem.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, September 13, 1911, page 5
Medford Sun, August 13, 1911
Colvig, Wm M (Colvig & Reames), h 8 S Laurel
1911 Polk's Jackson County Directory
Colvig, Vance D, student Medford Business Coll, bds 8 S Laurel
Colvig, Wm M, Pres-Sec-Mngr Medford Commercial Club, Lawyer, Medford National Bank Bldg., res 8 S Laurel
1912 Polk's Jackson County Directory
Pinto Colvig cartoon, January 1, 1912 Medford Mail Tribune
MRS. W. M. COLVIG DIES IN MEDFORD
In the death of Mrs. William M. Colvig, in her home at Medford, Jackson County lost another of its pioneers and a most estimable member of its civic life. Mrs. Colvig was the wife of Judge William M. Colvig, and both are widely known over Southern Oregon.
Mrs. Colvig was a native of Jackson County. She was born at Ft. Birdsey, near Foots Creek. She was the daughter of David and Clara Birdsey, who settled on a donation land claim in 1852. Her father died several years ago, but her mother, who is now 78 years of age, is still living, her home still being on the old donation claim. She was married to William M. Colvig on June 8, 1878, and lived with her husband on land adjoining the Birdsey homestead until 1886, when she moved to Jacksonville with her family. The family resided in Jacksonville nineteen years, moving to Medford in 1905, where she has since resided.
Mrs. Colvig was prominent in social and lodge affairs, and a few years ago was grand chief of honor of the Degree of Honor, a woman's auxiliary to the Ancient Order of United Workmen. She was the mother of seven children, five of whom, together with her husband, survive her. The children now living are Mrs. C. L. Reames, Mrs. R. G. Gale, Mrs. W. J. Warner, Vance and Donald Colvig, all living in Medford.
Rogue River Courier, Grants Pass, March 1, 1912, page 4
The marriage of Miss Star Marshall, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. G. E. Marshall, to Donald L. Colvig, son of Judge Wm. Colvig, was solemnized at the residence of the bride's parents on South Oakdale Avenue, May 8th, at sunset.
Just as the last rays of the setting sun streamed across their path, the bridal procession entered the room led by the two small ribbon bearers in white suits, Jack Marshall and Windsor Gale.
Following them came little Rowen Gale bearing the ring, and Miss Hope Marshall, the only attendant of the bride. These were dressed in white lingerie dresses, over yellow slips. After these came the bride. She was dressed in white hand-embroidered liberty satin, veiled in silk marquisette and wearing orange blossoms. She carried a bouquet of lilies of the valley.
The procession was met by the groom and the Rev. Mr. Boyle of the Christian Church under an immense floral arch of vines and white lilacs, and here in an enclosure of blossoms was pronounced the beautiful and impressive ceremony that united the young pair for life.
Prof. Talliendier played Lohengrin's wedding march at the entrance of the bridal party and several beautiful selections afterwards.
The guests were: Judge Wm. M. Colvig, Prof. Talliendier, Mr. and Mrs. C. L. Reames, Mrs. Helen Gale, Mr. and Mrs. W. L. Warner, Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Hansen, A. S. Rosenbaum, Miss Jennie Hansen, Miss Florence Marshall, Miss Lois Fancher, Wilson Waite, Vance Colvig, Mr. and Mrs. Albert Marshall and the immediate family of the bride.
"Society," Medford Mail Tribune, May 9, 1912, page 2
The art work throughout the book is of a very artistic order and adds much to the attractiveness of the volume. There are many excellent drawings which are above the ordinary. The cartoon work is very clever, particularly that of "Pinto." This artist has contributed a number of cartoons, which he calls "Pinto Photographs," and which are amusing in the extreme.
"Junior Annuals Have Arrived," Oregon Agricultural College Barometer, May 29, 1912, page 1
Vance Colvig, who has been confined to his home by a severe illness during the past week, is again able to be about.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, July 3, 1912, page 5
Vance Colvig is making arrangements to return to Corvallis to continue his studies there.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, August 29, 1912, page 5
Mildred Antle, Cordelia Goffe, Fred and Virgil Strang, Vance Colvig, Mac McDonald, Bert Stull and Claire Taylor have gone to Corvallis to attend the O.A.C.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, October 3, 1912, page 5
In addition to the cadet band of 32 pieces, the concert this year will include numbers by Prof. Rees, a grand opera singer of note, and "Pinto" Colvig, a son of Judge Colvig of Medford, who is a student at O.A.C., and a cartoonist of merit, who will give a chalk talk during intermission in the program. Mr. Colvig drew cartoons for last year's college annual.
"Murphey Out Making Date for O.A.C. Band," Daily Gazette-Times, Corvallis, November 12, 1912, page 2
The concerts will include the latest music, and the program, which is of considerable length, will be divided into two parts. During the intermission, "Pinto" Colvig of Medford, a prominent student and a clever young cartoonist of the Oregon Agricultural College, will give a chalk talk and with the aid of the crayon will depict the frailties and vanities of mankind, and even some local celebrity may recognize his own likeness on the easel before Colvig completes his stunt.
"O.A.C. Cadet Band to Give Concert Here," Albany Democrat, Albany, Oregon, November 15, 1912, page 5
Mr. Vance Colvig returns to resume his studies at Corvallis Sunday.
"Society," Medford Mail Tribune, November 30, 1912, page 5
PINTO HAS STUNT WITH O.A.C. BAND
CORVALLIS, Ore., Dec. 3.--The concert season of the cadet military band at the Oregon Agricultural College opens this year December 13 with a big concert in the opera house at home. Captain Harry Beard has planned a program containing a number of heavy pieces, such as the "Semiramide" overture by Rossini, composer of the "William Tell" overture which was so well received at the band concerts last year.
Selections from grand opera, as the "Pilgrims' Chorus," "Evening Star," and the grand march, all from "Tannhauser," by Wagner, will also be included in the program. A special feature of the concert will be a baritone solo from the opera of "Carmen" sung by H. L. Rees, of the plant pathology department.
An interesting number, revived from the first band concert five years ago, will be the "Anvil Chorus" from Il Trovatore, in which an accompaniment of real anvils will be used. Each year since the number was given before there have been requests for its repetition, and this year Capt. Beard has decided to give it again.
The humorous descriptive numbers, "What's the Matter with Father?" so popular last year, will also be presented. A specialty introduced "between halves" will be a "Pinto's Nightmare Stunt." V. D. Colvig and Fred Strang are with the band.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 3, 1912, page 3
A specialty introduced "between halves" will be a "Pinto's Nightmare Stunt."
"O.A.C. Band Plans for Big Concert," East Oregonian, Pendleton, December 4, 1912, page 2
Vance Colvig returns to Corvallis Tuesday after Thanksgiving at home.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, December 5, 1912, page 5
Mr. Olmstead, chairman of the committee on dance programs, has been able, with the help of the rest of the committee and "Pinto," to produce a strictly sophomore program.
"Sophomore Class Party Saturday Evening," Oregon Agricultural College Barometer, December 11, 1912, page 1
Three separate programs will be rendered on the trip, which increases the work of the players. Besides the band selections the famous Pinto Nightmare will be on exhibition and will prove an excellent drawing card, especially in his home pasture at Medford.
"Band to Take Holiday Trip," Oregon Agricultural College Barometer, December 16, 1912, page 2
One of the clarinet players, V. D. Colvig, better known as "Pinto, the Nightmare of Caricature," is an exceptionally good cartoonist. He promises a very interesting stunt to be put on during the intermission. With the easel, some large paper and crayon, he will furnish fifteen minutes of lively entertainment. He works with lightning rapidity, and with a piece of crayon in each hand he will actually draw two pictures at the same time.
The face of some well-known person in each town will probably appear in the drawing before the stunt is finished.
"Cadet Band Will Be Here This Month," Albany Weekly Democrat, Albany, Oregon, December 20, 1912, page 1
See "Pinto" at the high school Friday night, Dec. 27.
Don't forget the O.A.C. band concert at the high school auditorium Friday night, Dec. 27.
Pinto, the "Nightmare of Caricature," with the O.A.C. band at the high school auditorium Friday night, Dec. 27.
Vance Colvig and Fred Strang arrived with the O.A.C. band today and spent the day visiting friends.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, December 24, 1912, page 2
VANCE COLVIG ONE OF THE STARS WITH O.A.C. BAND
The Oregon Agricultural College band will appear next Friday evening, December 27, in the high school auditorium and will feature "Pinto, the Nightmare of Caricature." "Pinto" is Vance Colvig, well known in this city, where he was born and raised, and whose artistic abilities are well known. The organization is of unusual excellence and considered the best in the history of the school. The concert will commence at 8 o'clock, and tickets are now on sale at Haskins' drug store.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 24, 1912, page 6 Pinto was born in Jacksonville, not Medford.
Vance Colvig, billed as "Pinto, the Nightmare of Caricature," was a star of the first magnitude. With sticks of mustache blacking and graphite--so he said--he drew cartoons of various and sundry people, animals and "things," that kept the audience laughing and applauding throughout the fifteen or twenty minutes occupied. Colvig made a few scratches that formed nothing in particular, said a few magic words, made a few more scratches, and a fine likeness of Teddy, Dr. Bell, the Queen of Waldo Hall, the Rook, our old friends Mutt and Jeff, Irishmen galore, the "cullahed gentleman from New Orleans," and finally "Pinto, the Nightmare," an animal with many showy points. Nothing created more laughs than a cartoon developed from a bottle above a wine glass. A half-dozen strokes made this a long-nosed greenhorn "thuckin' thider through a thaw." Colvig is a hummer, with real ability, and his stunt will prove tremendously popular anywhere.
"O.A.C. Cadet Band in High Class Program Pleases a Large Audience," The Gazette-Times, Corvallis, Oregon, December 14, 1912, page 1 This paragraph also ran in the Roseburg Review of December 30, 1912, page 3.
O.A.C. BOYS HERE FOR BAND CONCERT
The O.A.C. cadet band arrived in Medford at 8:45 this morning, and their private car is parked at the passenger station. The band rendered a concert at Grants Pass last night and will play this evening at the high school auditorium under the auspices of the Medford High School.
The band pleased greatly at Grants Pass last night; every number of the program was encored, and the audience was insistent on a third solo by Mr. H. L. Rees.
Two members of the band, Fred L. Strang and "Pinto" Vance D. Colvig, are eating their Christmas dinners at home today, they having been with the band at Cottage Grove on Christmas Day. Strang is the baritone player in the band and takes part in a quartette, "Forest Echoes," in which the echoes of the band are heard from a distance. "Pinto" with his "nightmare" caricature stunt is making a hit at all concerts, and much will be expected of him here tonight.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 27, 1912, page 3
Messrs. M. E. Woodcock of Corvallis, H. S. Walters of Pendleton, W. L. Lexton of Idaho Falls and I. C. Day of Portland, members of the Oregon Agricultural College band, were guests at the home of Mr. Vance Colvig during their stay in this city.
"Society," Medford Mail Tribune, December 28, 1912, page 2
O.A.C. BAND IS GOOD ENTERTAINER
The band concert given by the Oregon Agricultural College cadet band at the high school Friday evening proved to be one of the most pleasing musical treats enjoyed in Medford in many days. The band is an excellent organization and deserves good patronage. Vance Colvig, a local boy, made a hit by a clever stunt with pictures during the course of the evening.
Every number was encored and re-demanded, Kiesler's "Forest Echoes" and the "Anvil Chorus" from "Il Trovatore" receiving perhaps the heartiest approval.
A baritone, Mr. Rees, delivered a lecture on "Carmen," and then rendered the "Toreador Song" therefrom in Italian.
A lightning young caricaturist, under the pseudonym of "Pinto" (and let it be known that this quixotic young colt is none other than Vance Colvig of Medford), had the audience in an uproar for 15 minutes with his rapid and fantastic chalk sketches, and his humorous, conversational babbling. Master Colvig is a real comedian.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 28, 1912, page 8
O. A. C. CADET BAND HAS SPLENDID PROGRAM.The program of the concert of the military band of the Oregon Agricultural College, which plays in Roseburg Monday night, December 30, at the armory, shows a higher standard than that of previous efforts, as it contains a large proportion of classic numbers.
Classical Selections, Vocal and Instrumental Solos and Cartoon Humor.
After the opening piece, a stirring march, "The O.A.C. Booster," written by the director, Capt. Harry Beard, the boys will play a Rossini overture, "Semiramide," and "Forest Echoes" by Kiesler. Then Everett Moses and Edwin Woodcock, of Corvallis, accompanied by the band, will play a duet for cornet and trombone from Bellini's opera, Norma, "Hear Me, Norma." This will be followed by a selection from grand opera, from Wagner's Tannhauser.
During the fifteen-minute intermission there will be a humorous chalk talk by "Pinto," the cleverest cartoonist the college has ever had. He is Vance D. Colvig, of Medford, who plays the E-flat clarinet.
Evening Review, Roseburg, December 28, 1912, page 2
For fifteen minutes "Pinto," known off the stage as V. D. Colvig, of Medford, kept the audience interested and in the best of humor with his caricatures and witty sallies. He is certainly gifted, both as a cartoonist and as a comedian.
"Concert Was a Fine One," Ashland Daily Tidings, December 30, 1912, page 1
CLARINETSOregon Agricultural College Cadet Band roster 1912-13, SOHS vertical file "Special" is apparently short for "special student." Other band members were listed with their graduation date after their name.
Corporal--V. D. Colvig, Special . . . . . . . . . Medford
Ray Reter until his recent death had been a friend of the author's family for some 58 years. He was a good storyteller, including this one. It seems that when he was in the Jacksonville grade school, in the sixth grade, he was running with classmates Don Russell and Vance DeBar Colvig, whose nickname was "Pinto." During that year they were expelled for too much hell raising. On Halloween night one of their stunts nearly resulted in the demise of the old miner, John O'Leary, who lived alone in a shack up on Jackson Creek. That evening after dark the boys slipped up there and tipped over John's privy into the creek. What they did not know was that John was sitting there asleep. They managed to fish him out still breathing, but the school principal and the town constable took a dim view of this caper.
The following year Pinto decided he had [had] enough of the school and took off for parts unknown, living in the railroad jungles with the tramps. [page 186]
Oregon Agricultural College 1910
Vance DeBar "Pinto" Colvig decided that the sixth grade in the Jacksonville school was enough formal education for him. He liked the life of a "hobo," getting ideas for cartoons of tramps. His talent with an old E flat clarinet led eventually to a tryout with the Ringling Brothers big three-ring circus in Portland, and the band director Merle Evans hired him for one season, which was all he wanted. At the age of eighteen Pinto returned to the family hearth in Medford to reestablish the family relationship and to fatten up on his mother's good cooking. His older brother Don was then a student at the Oregon Agricultural College at Corvallis. Having no hankering for steady work, Pinto talked his parents into sending him along with his friends Wilson Wait and the two older Strang brothers, Fred and Virgil, to the same college in the autumn of 1911. Having no grade school diploma, and never having been inside a high school, Pinto was allowed to register as a special student, signing up for five hours per week in the art class, as his goal that year was to become a commercial cartoonist.
Pinto had played the clarinet in the Medford town band, and he joined the college military department band under the leadership of old Captain Beard. By Christmas time he was off for sunny southern California, and when next heard from he was a member of the band of the Al G. Barnes Animal Circus.
Oregon Agricultural College Band 1911. Pinto at far left.
In the summer of 1912 our dad [Joseph Stillwell Vilas] met Pinto on the Medford Main Street while the circus was making a one-night stand in Medford, and he convinced Dad that Ned and I should enroll with him at the Oregon Agricultural College. At that time the college freshman entrance requirement was only two years of high school. With Pinto and Paul MacDonald we rode the two trains into Corvallis in September, and all four moved into Mrs. Hardman's boarding house on 3rd Street, where Pinto had lived the year before.
Walking up the hill to the campus to register, Pinto met old Professor "Jackie" Horner, the history teacher, who insisted that being a Colvig he must sign up for his Ancient History class along with his five hours per week in the art class. Pinto did not have it in him to refuse the venerable prof, but rarely attended class. One day he did show up, and they were having a written examination. Pinto borrowed a blue book and, not knowing any of the answers, he spent the fifty minutes drawing cartoons of famous old Greeks and Romans and turned the book in.
Came the Sunday morning early in December following a night drinking party when Mrs. Hardman put all four of us out of our two rooms. In addition to the mess, she accused us of having enticed her housemaid to sleep in one of our beds. She was so furious there was no use arguing that point. Pinto quit school and secured work as a night watchman out at the sand and gravel plant. Paul and Ned and I moved into a fraternity house, and the men at the fire station gave Pinto a cot to sleep on in return for running errands for them.
Pinto went down to Portland and made the grade with a solo act on the Orpheum vaudeville circuit as a cartoonist. He told me years later in Hollywood that the day Ringling Bros. played Medford and he sat on an end seat on the top of the calliope in the morning parade down Main Street tooting his clarinet was the most thrilling event of his entire fantastic career.
His next steady job was in San Francisco employed by one of the leading daily newspapers as a cartoonist. His daily cartoon on the front page with his trademark, a pinto pony making comments, which amused the readers. It was during his San Francisco residence that his first two sons were born, and as I was working in the city at the time, we would get together frequently. Established as a first-rate cartoonist, he moved on to Hollywood and worked for the Disney firm for some forty years. He became a highly paid idea man, including the Donald Duck series. He was also a voice man, second only to Mel Blanc. He and his two oldest boys were three of the voices in the Seven Dwarfs pictures. Other studios borrowed him when directors were unhappy with certain voices.
While associated with Walt Disney, Pinto dreamed up the idea of making phonograph records for children, and sold Capitol Records the "Bozo the Clown" recordings. Now he was in the big time, with two substantial incomes. With his good wife Margaret a cripple in a wheelchair, he was financially able to put his five sons through the University of Southern California, after which they all became successful businessmen.
The Jacksonville, Oregon historical society made him an honorary officer, and for many years he led their annual parade dressed as "Bozo," and the many children were thrilled no end.
While in San Francisco in early October of 1967, attending the wedding of a grandson, this man of many talents suffered a heart attack, and the old reaper caught up with him. His funeral in Hollywood and burial in Forest Lawn Cemetery were attended by a crowd of celebrities. His lack of a formal education was no hindrance in his climb up the ladder of success. Perhaps his peculiar type of education was just what he needed in place of a college degree. [pages 189-191]
* * *George W. Vilas, Tales of a Rogue Valley Rogue, 1974. Vilas' valuable memoir contains many inaccuracies about Pinto's history.
One day on Main Street in Medford in August of 1912, Dad met Vance DeBar (Pinto) Colvig, the youngest son of Judge Colvig. He had followed his brother Don, and in the autumn of 1911 had gone to Oregon Agricultural College at Corvallis for three months. Pinto talked Dad into sending Ned and me up there with Paul MacDonald and himself the next month. At that time the freshman entrance requirement was only two years of high school. Pinto wrote his former boarding house operator, Mrs. Hardman, and reserved two rooms for the four of us.
We enjoyed the football games and the dances and taking coeds for long walks on Sundays. The boarding house was downtown on Third Street, only two blocks from the pool room, and Pinto hobnobbing with the volunteer firemen in the fire hall would bring home free whiskey. This combination was not conducive to much studying, and to make college life more complicated, the Andrews and Kerr Cafe-Ice Cream Parlor in the next block and the clothing store gave us credit until the first of the next month. To our dismay, Dad showed up one evening and advised that he had heard from our creditors, as we were delinquent. As usual, Dad in a quiet voice merely gave us a serious talk and some money to square our accounts with our promise to slow down.
When a snowstorm hit in December, Mrs. Hardman threw all four of us out into the street for having a drinking party and raising hell in general. Pinto got a job as a night watchman out at the gravel pit and a free cot to sleep on in the fire hall. Paul, Ned and I moved into a fraternity house, and when the half-year term ended in January I was placed on probation with one more chance to make passing grades, and that was in the School of Commerce, the softest course available. [pages 41-42]
The Al G. Barnes Circus parade makes a U-turn in Madras, Oregon in 1911
In Pinto's case, even the term "student" was a magnificent overstatement. Except for the band, he really took none of his courses seriously. The records show him taking Drawing I, auditing it for one semester and getting a "C" in the second. In the year 1912-13 he signed up for 12 credits in history and art courses, but didn't finish any of them. His was a lighthearted approach. "Every spring--off to the circus or the vaudeville," he wrote.
"The Comic Genius of 'Pinto' Colvig," The Oregon Stater, September 1955, page 18
Pinto Colvig cartoon, January 1, 1913 Medford Mail Tribune
Intermission--Fifteen minutes of fast and foolish ideas by "Pinto," the nightmare of caricature.
"Hundreds to Hear the Military Band," Albany Democrat, Albany, Oregon, January 3, 1913, page 6
The "Pinto Nightmare" never failed to produce gales of laughter and generous applause, the drawings of "leading citizens" being especially appreciated.
"Band Leaves Trail of 'Harmony' Through South," Oregon Agricultural College Barometer, January 8, 1913, page 2
During the intermission last evening "Pinto" Colvig entertained the audience with caricature, and his drawings were the cause of a continual laugh from the crowd. Among the cartoons drawn by Colvig was an excellent likeness of Mayor Gilbert.
"Six Hundred Hear O.A.C. Band Concert," Albany Democrat, Albany, Oregon, January 10, 1913, page 1
Glee Club Coming.The Oregon Agricultural [College] glee club will make its appearance in the local armory January 15 in songs, stunts, skits, readings and Scotch monologues. The club comes here preparatory to departing on an extended tour of Southern Oregon, arranged by its manager, Mr. A. J. Wilson. Those optimistic friends of last year's organization, who thought it had attained the acme of musical perfection, will be agreeably surprised as the work of the present club excels the fondest hopes of the director. The repertoire will surely please. It is arranged for a versatile audience and while containing a few semi-classic numbers, the stunts, readings and Scotch monologues predominate, this being the most popular form of entertainment. The readings of Mr. Joy Scudder, a former student of Oberlin University, is attracting unusual attention wherever the club appears. His impersonations of the "Dutch Butcher" and the "Canadian Skipper" are remarkable for their vividness. A special feature is offered in Vance Colvig, creator of "Pinto Nightmare." The absurdity of his drawings never fails to bring roars of laughter from his audience. H. W. Russell, the "wee bra" laddie, is in evidence again this year with "Lauder" songs. His "Every Laddie Loves a Lassie" and "Roamin' in the Gloamin'" produce an effect that is pleasing.
All in all, an evening of enjoyment is assured those who attend.
Polk County Itemizer, Dallas, Oregon, January 23, 1913, page 3 The same press release appeared in the Independence Monitor, January 17, page 1, announcing a performance January 23.
Edwin Woodcock played his trombone solo, "Shubert's Serenade," in a very commendable manner, and merited the hearty applause he received. Pinto, the nightmare of caricature, amused the audience for fifteen minutes, his cartoons of one or two of the members of the band and "Doc" Bell proving most popular.
"Return Concert Great Success," Oregon Agricultural College Barometer, January 29, 1913, page 4
"PINTO" WILL TRAVEL PANTAGES CIRCUIT
Will Take "Nightmare" on Another Little "Pleasure" Trip.
Vance D. Colvig, better known to the "aristocratic knights of the rail" and other societies as "Pinto," "The Human Leopard," "Wandering Minstrel," "Society Tramp," "Brakebeam Tourist," "Boxcar Idol," "Nightmare of Caricature," and many other titles too numerous to mention, will leave shortly to accept an offer from the Pantages vaudeville circuit, whereupon he will deliver "15 minutes of fast and foolish pictorial ideas," for the public's approval.
"Pinto" has been at O.A.C. two years and has furnished illustrations for the Orange three consecutive years. He will not return to enter school again but will always try to be back for the big football games each year.
Wherever he and the "nightmare" may travel in years to come, they will always be proud to let people know that O.A.C. is the "one school of the West."
Oregon Agricultural College Barometer, April 1, 1913, page 4
PINTO COLVIG WILL "STAR" NOW
Will Take "Nightmare" on Another Little "Pleasure" Trip
Vance D. Colvig, better known to the "Aristocratic Knights of the Road" and other societies as "Pinto," "The Human Leopard," "Wandering Minstrel," "Society Tramp," "Brakebeam Tourist," "Boxcar Idol," "Nightmare of Caricature" and many other titles too numerous to mention, will leave shortly to accept an offer from the Pantages Vaudeville Circuit, whereupon he will deliver "15 minutes of fast and foolish pictorial ideas" for the public's approval.
"Pinto" has been at O.A.C. two years and has furnished illustrations for the Orange three consecutive years. He will not return to enter school again but will always try to be back for the big football games each year.
Wherever he and the "nightmare" may travel in years to come, they will always be proud to let people known that O.A.C. is the "one school of the West."
Daily Gazette Times, Corvallis, April 1, 1913, page 2
An exhaustive search through the Seattle Daily Times from January 1, 1913 through May 10, 1913 (when the Al G. Barnes circus played Seattle) turns up no evidence of Pinto's career with Pantages (a stint Pinto barely mentions in any of his writings). During that time three chalk artists and cartoonists appeared at the Seattle Pantages under different names, all of whom had careers before and after 1913--ruling out the possibility of their being Pinto under a pseudonym. Vaudeville houses apparently advertised by placard and word of mouth, not by newspaper.
April 12, 1913 Salem Daily Capital Journal
Pantages Theater, Portland, Oregon circa 1920
SPRING, 1913: Jumped from Pantages vaudeville circuit in Seattle and joined Al G. Barnes Big 4-Ring Wild Animal Circus.
Pinto Colvig, Clowns Is People, unpublished manuscript at SOHS, 1935, page 150
Before the end of 2nd term [at Oregon Agricultural College] springtime and show business beckoned again. Did a stint on Pantages vaudeville circuit. When playing in Seattle (May 1913) Al G. Barnes circus parade passed the theatre. I recognized some old friends on the clown bandwagon. I wanted to ramble. One-day stands. That day I signed with Barnes.
Pinto Colvig, Clowns Is People, unpublished manuscript at SOHS, 1935, page 152
CROWDS LINE STREETS TO SEE CIRCUS PARADE
Promptly at 10:30 o'clock this morning the deep notes of silver trombones smote upon the air of upper First Avenue. Simultaneously the heads of the members of a colored band perched high upon a bronzed and gilded wagon appeared above the snarl of traffic that eddies about First Avenue and Pike Street, and out of the maze of vehicles appeared the parade of the Al G. Barnes Wild Animal Circus.
At its head rode two mounted police. Behind them came a troop of graceful chargers so perfectly as to appear parts of the animals themselves. Then came the band, colored, tuneful and hard-working, which first announced the approach of the "greatest of all parades."
Behind came a cage of laughing hyenas whose cause for mirth was not apparent. The following cage was closed, locked and barred; First Avenue is still speculating as to its contents. There were some more bespangled ladies who lightly sat their graceful chargers, and then followed cages containing all the beasts of mountain and forest.
Fearless Animal Trainers.Restless leopards paced back and forth in their narrow cells and lashed their tails against the iron bars that held them prisoners. Fearsome panthers and fearless women sat in the selfsame cages and gazed out on the busy thoroughfare.
One huge cage was filled with lions that licked their chops and gazed appraisingly at the faces that lined the curb. Children shivered apprehensively and hugged more tightly the garments of their fearless parents. Nor did they regain their normal spirits until the appearance of a wagonload of clowns, too funny for anything.
The clowns were followed by more cages of lions and baby lions that have spent all of their young lives in cages and appeared perfectly content as they basked in the sun, blinking at the crowd.
After the young lions came a cage of monkeys, which, whenever the procession halted, stretched out hairy paws and frisked the pockets of small boys for possible peanuts. After the monkeys came a troop of elephants that lumbered along, swinging their huge trunks to help them keep in step to all that music. A team of four camels followed, humping themselves to keep up with the procession. A calliope brought up the rear, playing steamfully all the latest airs.
Following down First Avenue to Yesler Way, the parade turned up Yesler Way into Second Avenue, thence northward to the show grounds at Fifth Avenue and Lenora Street, to be fed and groomed for the afternoon performance. [The Seattle Pantages was on the corner of Second Avenue and Seneca Street.]
Lured by the promise of a good show given by the morning parade, a crowd that completely filled the mammoth tent found its way to the show grounds this afternoon. There they found that the management had held out on them in the parade, for all kinds of performing animals, dogs, ponies and even sea lions were introduced for the first time.
The performances will be repeated tonight and twice daily Tuesday and Wednesday.
Seattle Daily Times, May 5, 1913, page 9
Route Traveled While with Barnes' Circus
May 5-7--Seattle, Washington
19--Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada
8-9--Gull Lake, Saskatchewan
13--Weyburn (cyclone, Friday the thirteenth, '13)
15-16--North Portal, North Dakota
22-23--Clark, South Dakota
10--Cedar Rapids (quit th' show--total mileage 7,754)
Manuscript page from Pinto's scrapbooks, SOHS MS9 folder 18
Mrs. Charles Strang and her daughter have gone to Corvallis to attend the Oregon Agricultural school graduating exercises. Her son, Fred, is a member of the class.
Vilas brothers, who have been attending the O.A.C. at Corvallis, have returned for the summer vacation.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, June 10, 1913, page 2
Vance Colvig, the cartoonist, has returned from a trip on the vaudeville circuit.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, September 18, 1913, page 4
"PINTO" COLVIG GETS VAUDEVILLE OFFER
Vance D. Colvig, better known locally as "Pinto," will appear on the Pantages bill at the Page Theatre next Wednesday as an added attraction in his original caricature and cartoon stunt.
"Pinto" recently received a letter from Mr. Pantages of Seattle offering to book him over the entire circuit, but before considering the proposition he desires to present this act before "the folks at home," and if successful may accept Mr. Pantages' offer.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 22, 1913, page 4
September 23, 1913 Medford Mail Tribune
PINTO COLVIG AT PAGE THEATRE WEDNESDAY
Something new in vaudeville will be offered by the Mus-Art Trio when the many excellent musical hits are illustrated by an artist in crayon. The Mus-Art Trio is composed of an instrumentalist, a singer and a crayon artist.
James Brockman is a singer of original numbers. Mr. Brockman will be heard in songs entirely new to the local public, and his personality is winning.
Sensational feats are said to be accomplished by the Bartletts, aerial stars.
The De Von Sisters are a pair of pretty girls who know how to sing and dance.
Vance Colvig, of Medford, better known as "Pinto," will appear in his original caricature and cartoon stunt.
Pagescope with usual strong feature film.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 23, 1913, page 2
For stunts Harry [Walters] is trying to get into communication with "Pinto" and secure him to make the trip with them. "Pinto" is at present touring California, and all of Harry's letters and telegrams seem to miss him, but as "Pinto" appears in San Francisco, November 22nd, he will soon be landed.
"Cadet Band to Take Long Tour," Oregon Agricultural College Barometer, November 21, 1913, page 1
Pinto, upon whom Harry Walters and "Cap" Beard were basing so much hope as a special feature, has notified "Red" that he cannot appear with them on account of his contract with the people with whom he is now touring. However, "Red" has not given up hope, but is pulling all the strings he can to land him. Pinto is not only a superb cartoonist, but is also a musician of no mean ability.
"Band to Give Home Concert Thursday," Oregon Agricultural College Barometer, December 5, 1913, page 1
Vance D. Colvig, 8 S. Laurel
William M. Colvig, 8 S. Laurel
Don L. Colvig, 928 S. Holly
Star M. Colvig, 928 S. Holly
"List of Registered Voters," Medford Sun, January 3, 1914, page 2
Land [Hotel]--. . . Pinto Colvig, Medford, Ore. . . .
"Hotel Arrivals," Sacramento Union, California, January 8, 1914, page 9
KIND WORDS BY "BO" TO "BO'S"
"Boxcar Cartoonist" Writes Quo Vadis Members from Oregon.
Since a story of the Quo Vadis Club appeared in a January issue of the Literary Digest, the club has been hearing from kindred spirits all over the land. The Quo Vadis Club originated and has its headquarters at the University of Missouri. To be eligible, one has to have a record of "bumming" at least 1000 miles and "panhandling" several meals.
The club has just received a skillfully and elaborately drawn cartoon letter from Medford, Oregon. It is signed "Pinto--The Boxcar Cartoonist," with several subtitles or degrees, such as "Boxcar Idol," and "Brakebeam Tourist." Pinto expresses great enthusiasm and the kindest feelings for the club and its members.
Pinto says: "Should any of you by chance come westward, remember the town, Medford, Oregon, where 'Highballs, Handouts and Tropical Skies are not a thing of the past.' I have a beautiful home in that town, just overlooking the stockyards--the bulldog is harmless! You will notice the familiar mark on the back door, meaning--'Kind Lady--No Dog.' There is always a pot of Onion Razzle-Dazzle on tap, and you are all welcome. Signed, Yours for Miles, 'Pinto'."
University Missourian, Columbia, Missouri, February 11, 1914, page 4
Vance Colvig, the original and only "Pinto," cartoonist and popular member of the cadet band, is in Corvallis from nowhere in particular and a little of everywhere. He has been traveling before the footlights, but just had to come back to Corvallis to see the old school again.
"Happenings of City and County," Daily Gazette-Times, Corvallis, March 21, 1914, page 1
Vance Colvig has returned from a trip to Northern California in the interests of the Korinek Veterinary Company.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, March 23, 1914, page 2
Vance Colvig of "Pinto" cartoon fame was operated on at Sacred Heart Hospital this morning for appendicitis by Dr. E. B. Pickel.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, March 31, 1914, page 2
Vance Colvig, who was operated upon the first of the week at Sacred Heart Hospital for appendicitis, is improving rapidly.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, April 1, 1914, page 2
Vance Colvig, who was operated upon a week ago at Sacred Heart Hospital for appendicitis, is improving rapidly.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, April 6, 1914, page 2
Should you happen to hear some weird sounds resounding through the corridors of Sacred Heart Hospital, don't be alarmed. It's probably the echoes from the wild wails I did there years ago following the gas pains I got when I had my appendix manicured. That was 44 years ago, 1914. In fact, it happened on April Fool's Day. No kiddin'! Ol' Doc Pickel done it. As I recall, I guess I must have raised hell while in there, and the Sisters, nurses and many of the patients were glad when I left. What I mean is, I had FUN. After they unstitched my incision I used to get into a wheelchair and gallivant up and down the halls. One day I locked wheels with another wheelchair . . . and Wow! Wow! Wow! In it was one of the most gorgeous, peachy-cream blondes you'd ever want to see. For the moment I forgot all about my missing appendix and said: "Where in hell did YOU come from?" Well, it turned out that she was the leading lady or saucy soubrette with a comic opera company that had played Medford the week before. She came down with an attack of appendicitis--they left her off in Medford--and she was operated on the same day I was.
From then on we ran wheelchair races up and down the hall. Then, at certain times, we'd stop in front of the door wherein different patients would be coming out from under ether. We enjoyed listening to them cuss. I remember one guy kept yelling: "Whoa . . . whoa . . . WHOA, you old ROAN son-of-a------!" Seems as though he had been in a runaway and had to have a few ribs mended. You guessed it. It certainly must have been a ROAN horse he'd been driving. I remember talking about it to Sister Superior. (The same Sister who sat bedside while I was coming out from effects of ether.) I said to Sister: "I didn't cuss, did I?" She said: "Oh--you swore something fearful." I said: "That's funny, I don't usually cuss." She said: "Well--maybe not . . . but one thing sure . . you didn't learned how to cuss while you were asleep!
Incidentally, I might mention that my appendix is still somewhere there on the premises. This comic-op'ry chick and I had the nurse bring us our appendixes (which they kept for us in a jar of alcohol). Well, we tied 'em together in a cute bow knot--wheelchaired ourselves out on the sun-veranda--coasted down the ramp and buried them in an airtight jar of alcohol, beneath a rose bush. The patients sitting on the sun porch thought we were crazy. They were right. But we had fun. We were decent, too. One can't do a hell of a lot of smoochin' an' neckin' when in a wheelchair and all taped up with adhesive--and with patients, nurses, doctors and Sisters looking on. Hem-m-m-m--I wonder what ever became of that gal. She left town and rejoined the show in San Francisco . . . and that was the last I ever heard of her.
Typescript letter on "Bozo" Capitol Records stationery to Tom Dunnington dated March 6, 1958, SOHS MS9, folder 1 Pinto's friend was most likely Margaret Randolph, touring with "The Tongues of Men," starring Henrietta Crosman.
LIFE IN CIRCUS AN EDUCATIONVance DeBar Colvig, 22-year-old son of Judge William Colvig, tax and right-of-way agent for the Southern Pacific, learned more from a circus than he did from college, according to his father, and he has been with both. The Judge met his son in Eugene today, and the two went to Goshen, where the right-of-way agent is interested in the purchase of a tract of land to be used in moving the county road a few feet farther away from the Southern Pacific station at that place.
Such Is Opinion of Judge Colvig, Who Meets Son Who Tried Both in Eugene.
Young Colvig ran away from college a year or so ago, and joined a circus with which he spent a year, and later he made good on the Pantages vaudeville circuit as a comedy sketch artist. The father is very proud of his son, in spite of the original way which the latter chose to obtain an education.
The two are planning to leave shortly on a trip to Alaska, where Judge Colvig expects to take his vacation, and where the son expects to join a railroad survey there.
The Daily Guard, Eugene, Oregon, July 14, 1914, page 5
"Pinto" Colvig Returns--
Vance Colvig, popularly known as "Pinto" from his drawing trademark, left today for Portland with his father, William Colvig, Southern Pacific tax and right-of-way agent. "Pinto" is a former O.A.C. student, and a cartoonist of merit.
The Daily Guard, Eugene, Oregon, July 22, 1914, page 6
Pinto Colvig, Portland Ore.
"Hotel Golden Arrivals," Reno Gazette-Journal, September 5, 1914, page 7
Pinto Is Here
Vance D. Colvig, better known to the aristocratic Knights of the Rail as "Pinto," the tramp cartoonist, boxcar idol, and circus bandwagon enthusiast, arrived Friday evening from Portland, Oregon for the interests of The Rockroller, in which he will depict the various faces of Nevada citizens in cartoon form.VANCE COLVIG GETS FIRST CARTOON JOB
"Pinto's" cartoons have appeared in many publications of the Pacific Coast and elsewhere for the past seven years.
In some spot of his cartoons you will notice a queer, non-corpulent little animal which resembles that of a horse, which is known as "Pinto's Nightmare," and it will be interesting to note just what this little creature will have to say from time to time.
However, "Pinto" is with us, and he says he's going to stay 'til the largest boulder looks like a grain of sand, and [he] is not afraid to wield his pen in any direction as long as he knows he is in the right.
The Nevada Rockroller, September 5, 1914, page 1
Vance Colvig (Pinto) is now employed upon the Nevada Rock Roller, a political paper published at Reno, Nev., by Colonel Carl Young. The paper is assured of life until the November election, and if the right men win at the polls will keep on. Vance's work consists of drawing pictures setting forth the virtues of the select, and the faults of the unchosen. Copies of the paper show the Medford artist to be as versatile as ever with the pen, with the inevitable skinny mustang in the left-hand corner.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, September 12, 1914, page 2
September 13, 1914 Sunday Oregonian
The Sunday Oregonian speaks of Vance Colvig as follows:
"Perhaps it is the climate, and then again, perhaps it is the illustrious example of the late Homer Davenport, but climate or whatever, the soil of Oregon seems to be prolific of cartoonists.
"Another young disciple of Nast, who has just launched forth with his first regular newspaper job, with visions of becoming as famous at least as Cooper of New York or Bowers of Indianapolis, both Oregon boys, is Vance Colvig, 23 years old, late of Medford, who left Portland September 1 for Reno, to take a position as cartoonist on the Nevada Rock Roller, a new freelance journal that is stirring up the animals in the political jungles of Nevada.
"Colonel Carl Young, editor of the Rock Roller, has been sending urgent telegrams to young Colvig, and when he finally sent a ticket the temptation was too strong. So the budding cartoonist--all cartoonists are budding until the Review of Reviews begins to copy their work--departed for the erstwhile divorce capital.
"Colvig is a native of southern Oregon and the son of Judge William M. Colvig, once a leading member of the Jackson County bar, and at present right of way agent and attorney for the Southern Pacific lines in Oregon, with headquarters in Portland. Mrs. C. L. Reames, wife of United States District Attorney Reames, is his sister. Colvig is using the name of Pinto in his work."
O.A.C. STUDENT DOING THINGS
Vance Colvig, known as "Pinto," clarinetist and cartoonist with the O.A.C. band two years ago, has broken into print again. Accompanying the reproduction of a cartoon from his pen, Sunday's Oregonian gives the following bit of news about him that will be of interest to his many friends here:
"Perhaps it is the climate, and then again, perhaps it is the illustrious example of the late Homer Davenport, but climate or whichever, the soil of Oregon seems to be prolific of cartoonists.
"Another young disciple of Nast, who has just launched forward with his first regular newspaper job, with visions of becoming as famous as Nast, as Cooper of New York, or Bowers of Indianapolis, both Oregon boys, to Vance Colvig, 23 years old, late of Medford, who left Portland September 1 for Reno to take a position as cartoonist on the Nevada Rock Roller, a new freelance journal that is stirring up the animals in the political jungles of Nevada.
"Colonel Carl Young, editor of the Rock Roller, has been sending urgent telegrams to young Colvig, and when he finally sent a ticket the temptation was too strong. So the budding cartoonist--all cartoonists are budding until the Review of Reviews begins to copy their work--departed for the erstwhile divorce capital.
"Colvig is a native of Southern Oregon and a son of Judge William M. Colvig, once a leading member of the Jackson County bar, and at present right-of-way agent and attorney for the Southern Pacific lines in Oregon, with headquarters in Portland. Mrs. C. L. Reames, wife of United States District Attorney Reames, is his sister. Colvig is using the name of Pinto in his work."
Daily Gazette-Times, Corvallis, September 14, 1914, page 1
Vance DeBar Colvig, the cartoonist known as "Pinto," a brother of Mrs. Charles Morrison, is a visitor to this city for a short time.
"Here and Hereabouts," Carson City News, September 25, 1914, page 4
COLVIG CASTS HIS LOT WITH THE RENO ROCKROLLER
Well-Known Student of O.A.C. and Man of "Pinto" Horse Fame
Has Position on Reno Paper.
Clarence [sic] Colvig, an ex-student and the personage of "Pinto" horse fame, who is well known among all old students of O.A.C., is seeking fame in the pages of the Rockroller of Reno, Nevada. After receiving numerous flattering offers from the Rockroller, "Pinto" decided to cast his lot with the other famous cartoonists of Oregon and is now at the said newspaper office drawing curved lines for the gratification of the editor's ire.
Colvig is remembered here as a participant in band concerts, a cartoonist and good fellow. His position with the Rockroller is his first experience on newspaper work, but his cartoons are familiar to all who perused the pages of any Orange or Barometer.
Oregon Agricultural College Barometer, September 25, 1914, page 7
An effort is being made to secure a high-class vocal soloist for the local concert. It is also hoped that "Pinto," the famous college cartoonist and comedian of former years, will take part. "Pinto" is in Medford at present.
"Excellent Music and Dramatics Tendered," Oregon Agricultural College Barometer, December 17, 1914, page 2
Vance Colvig, famed as "Pinto," writes that the career of the Reno Rock-Crusher, the political sheet on which he was employed, came to a sudden end when the publisher got the smallpox. Pinto is now cartoonist on the Carson City News. He says the people of Nevada are much interested in Eagle Point Eaglets and concludes with the following: "Tell Walter Mundy and Charley Palm not to work too hard."
Unidentified clipping circa 1914, Southern Oregon Historical Society Research Library
Pinto says the sickest man he ever saw was one who was suffering with rheumatism and St. Vitus' dance at the same time.
"Newsy Notes of People We Know Here and There," Carson City News, December 23, 1914, page 1
Pinto saw a young lady slip and fall on the ice near the News office a few evenings ago and gallantly went to her rescue. Pinto has a natural smile that will not come off and consequently the young lady said several things to Pinto which has started him thinking. Pinto has not lived long enough in a freezing country to learn to never see a lady when she slips and falls.
"Newsy Notes of People We Know Here and There," Carson City News, December 29, 1914, page 1
Pinto was yesterday reading about the "Girls' Canning Clubs" of the South and said he supposed they were clubs the girls got up to tie cans on fellows they got tired of.
"Newsy Notes of People We Know Here and There," Carson City News, December 30, 1914, page 1
Pinto says that trouble never troubles him, for when trouble comes his way he always gives it to a friend of his who is always looking for trouble.
"Newsy Notes of People We Know Here and There," Carson City News, December 31, 1914, page 1
Pinto yesterday was heard talking to a young lady in front of the News office and was heard to ask, "Do you never feel an insatiable craving for the unattainable--a consuming desire to transcend the limitations which hedge mortality, and commune, soul to soul, with the spirit infinite?"
"Newsy Notes of People We Know Here and There," Carson City News, January 10, 1915, page 1
There will be a novelty "stunt" during the intermission, and Dame Rumor predicts that it will be a rare specialty. The old "Nightmare of Caricature," "Pinto," may possibly again be seen in action.
"Concert by Band," Oregon Agricultural College Barometer, February 26, 1915, page 1
Farwell--"Pinto" Goes to Toot in Circus Band
"Pinto" is gone. The News will know him no more. No more from out the columns of this paper will his "Nightmare" view the world and comment on things as they are. The smell of the sawdust was too much for "Pinto," and he has gone with the circus again. "Pinto" was with the Barnes Circus as member of the band for the past two seasons [sic], and when his old comrades arrived in the city Sunday afternoon it was all off with "Pinto." "Pinto" will be seen, however, wearing a green coat and white pants with a German helmet upon his head hereafter, and he will be one of the band.
Carson City News, April 27, 1915, page 1
Vance Colvig, Assistant Musical Director
Al G. Barnes Circus list of staff and performers, 1915
Route Traveled En Route with Barnes' CircusVance "Pinto" Colvig, son of Judge William M. Colvig, and well known in this city, is one of the musicians with the Al G. Barnes wild animal show.
April 16--Carson City, Nevada
2--(En Route Sunday)
3--Salt Lake City, Utah
5--Malad City, Idaho
23-24--Baker City, Oregon
29--Walla Walla, Washington
18--Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
15--Bonners Ferry, Idaho
Typescript page from Pinto's scrapbooks, SOHS MS9 folder 18
A CIRCUS BAND STORY
THERE IS MUCH CHARM TO THE ROVING LIFE.
Vance Colvig, Free-Footed Wanderer, Loves to Follow
the Big Red Wagons of the Circus.
The circus has gone. It took with it its outstanding feature, the band, an organization of first-class musicians who take up the free-footed life of the "high top" armies for the pure love of travel, and for the little adventure they can get from the daily grind of two shows, parades and practice. It is a restless, discontented group of amiable young fellows who seem to have the instinct of hoboism covered with the smooth veneer given by good family ties and education. A man must have some few of the finer sensibilities in his makeup to be a musician, and it is not so much to his discredit if he chooses the carefree, roving life of the modern troubadour. The circus bandmen are mostly in their twenties, most of them are educated either in high school or college, and many can trace their family connections creditably. There are a number of college graduates in this organization and as naturally accustomed to a dress suit as they are to the green uniform of the band. The leader, E. A. Woeckener, has collected and capably trained the band. He is careful in his selection of material, and when he finds a really good musician he can usually interest him in an Al. G. Barnes contract, no matter what his previous condition of servitude may have been nor what his vocation is.
One of these is "Pinto," known to his family and good friends as Vance DeBar Colvig, a roving youth of many talents, and known to thousands of people from end to end of the United States by his nickname, awarded in honor of his very freckled face. Studying himself "the boxcar idol, the brakebeam tourist and the society tramp," he has followed circus band life for many years and has been taken to practically every city in the United States and Canada. Occasionally "Pinto" forgoes the charms of the wandering musician's life and says he will settle down. When he settles he employs his talents as a cartoonist to bring him a living, and they can bring a good one. He is an artist compared to most cartoonists, and can almost command a position in that work. His own story of his last settlement is interesting. He was employed last year as cartoonist on the Carson City (Nev.) News, where his little horse, used as Reynolds uses his tiger, and called "Pinto's Nightmare," won him great popularity. Barnes' circus was billed to show in Carson City in the early spring of this year. He sat at his easel, immune to the call of the big tents and the pleas of his former colleagues. Along came Mr. Woeckener, who said: "Pinto, think of the life; think of the world you see." "Aw, shucks," says Pinto, "gimme a contract." [Influencing Pinto's decision must have been the fact that after the close of the legislative session the News only required cartoons every other day, instead of daily. Pinto's last cartoon appeared in the News more than two weeks before Barnes played Carson City.] That's the way it is with Pinto. His father is Judge Colvig, for eight years at Medford, and at present head of the tax and right-of-way department of the Southern Pacific, with offices at Portland. The Judge is well-known in Dallas, where his legal work has brought him many times. He cannot influence his son to calm himself, but thinks, as does the young fellow himself, that he will finally end his roaming by the time he is thirty years old. Pinto allows himself that much time; he is twenty-five now, to adjust himself to normal conditions of existence. Pinto tried for a number of years to get a college education. As soon as the circus started out each spring, however, he would forsake his studies and climb on the band wagon. Some of those who knew him in college asked him on Tuesday what he thought he would do when he was too old to play the E-flat clarinet and too old to wield the pen and ink in his present masterful style. Colvig looked shocked at the question, and asked in retort: "What do you think they build poor houses for?" He attributes his loose-footedness to a peculiar disease, over which he has no power, and called the malady the "nigger's itch." Which it must be to make a talented youth, capable of earning better money at music or art, forsake a good home, pleasant surroundings and a chance in the world, for the charm of the big white canvassed arena and the joy of waking up, as Pinto put it, "in a new town every morning, with hundreds of strange faces in a sea about the cars seeking curiosity as I seek the life I love."
Polk County Observer, Monmouth, Oregon, August 27, 1915, page 2
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, September 2, 1915, page 4
The Al G. Barnes wild animal show exhibited in this city Thursday without an untoward incident. A large crowd attended both performances. The animal acts were unusually good. A feature of the show is the band, which is probably the best circus band in the land. They gave a concert on Main Street Thursday evening.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, September 3, 1915, page 2
"Pinto" Colvig, clarinet soloist of the big band, was in his glory in nearly every Oregon town played. That's his home state.
"Al G. Barnes Circus," The Billboard, September 18, 1915, page 57
CARTOONIST SPENDS SUMMER PLAYING IN A CIRCUS BAND
Vance DeBar Colvig, who is playing the E-flat clarinet in the band with the Barnes circus, is a newspaper cartoonist when he is not traveling with a circus. He has the wanderlust, however, and likes the life of the sawdust ring. His last berth in the cartoon line was on the Carson City Daily News in Nevada, and he is going back there when the show reaches California and goes into winter quarters, probably at Venice, Calif.
El Paso Herald, October 26, 1915, page 3
Animated Advertising Co of Cal (Inc), Phelan Bldg
San Francisco City Directory, 1916
Vance Colvig visited Grants Pass Monday.
Judge Wm. M. Colvig, tax attorney of the Southern Pacific, was a visitor in Medford Tuesday. He reports the marriage of his son, Vance, popularly known as "Pinto," the cartoonist, to Miss Mary [sic] Slavin at Portland. The marriage was a surprise to the Colvig family, the first knowledge of it being a phone request asking the Judge if he wanted to see his new daughter-in-law. Pinto has a position with the Hicks-Chatten Engraving Co.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, March 21, 1916, page 2 Margaret was a telephone operator. The Hicks-Chatten offices were in the Blake-McFall Building on Ankeny Street between 2nd and 3rd; there was a Pacific Telephone and Telegraph building one block away at Fourth and Ankeny.
"Pinto" Takes a Bride
"Social Items from the Capital City" [Carson City], Nevada State Journal, Reno, Nevada, April 16, 1916, page 7
Vance Colvig, well known throughout the Pacific coast as a cartoonist, is now working for a Portland engraving concern, and will shortly issue a book of drawings entitled "On Band Wagon and Box Car," depicting Vance's experiences with the Sells-Floto circus, and elsewhere in travels that have taken him over a large portion of the United States. He has discarded the piccolo [sic] for the artist's brush for good, Mr. Colvig states in letters to friends in this city.
"Local and Personal," Medford Sun, September 26, 1916, page 2
Tirey L. Ford Host to Film Company Heads
Tirey L. Ford was host at a luncheon given yesterday at the Stewart Hotel to the Animated Cartoon Film Corporation, with covers laid for sixteen. Matters of interest to artists, cartoonists and photographers were discussed, and views exchanged. Among those present were Frederick Burgh, president of the corporation; Byington Ford, secretary and treasurer; C. E. Cleaveland, superintendent, and Seth Heney, manager.
San Francisco Chronicle, October 22, 1916, page 30
Among the factories and new commercial concerns which have located in San Francisco during the year are many which already have largely increased their plants, according to statements made by leasing agents. A greatly variety of industries is represented in the following list of these new enterprises in the city:
Animated Cartoon Film Corporation. . . .
"Many Factories Enlarge Premises," San Francisco Chronicle, December 23, 1916, page 9
Animated Advertising Co of Cal (Inc), Phelan Bldg
Animated Cartoon Film Corporation, 1501-1521 Hewes Bldg, Market 6th, tel Sutter 4757, advertising service, cartoon films, theatre advertising, motion pictures, cartoon comedies, "A real run for your money"
Colvig Vance, artist, ACF Corp r 600 Bush
San Francisco City Directory, 1917
My Dear Dad:
It's only been a week since you left, but to us it seems like a month. We certainly did enjoy your visit, but we feel that you were too much the host when it should have been vice versa, and the next time we get together we'll see that it shall be us who does the entertaining. You surely did make a hit with our friends, the Emlays. They're not through talking about you yet. When Earle and his wife got home that night they were talking about you, and he said to her, "Believe me, I'm goin' to be like that someday."
Letter, Pinto Colvig to William M. Colvig, December 2, 1917
ANIMATED CARTOON FILM CORP., Byington Ford, Genl. Mgr., 1620 Hewes Bldg. Sutter 4757.
San Francisco Chronicle, August 19 through December 16, 1917, page C7
Animated Film Corporation, San Francisco, circa 1917.
From left: Angel Espoy, Tack Knight, Pinto Colvig, Byington Ford.
Animated Cartoon Film Corp, 995 Market
Colvig Vance B. (Margaret), cartoonist, r 235 Oak
San Francisco City Directory, 1918
A son was born last week to Mr. and Mrs. Vance Colvig of San Francisco. The happy daddy is better known as "Pinto," the cartoonist who was on the force of a Reno paper a couple of years ago. Mr. Colvig is also a clarinetist of note and a vaudeville entertainer as well. Mrs. Charles Morrison of this city is a sister of Mr. Colvig.
"In and Around Carson City," Reno Evening Gazette, March 21, 1918, page 5
April 27, 1918 Medford Mail Tribune
MEDFORD BOY'S PICTURES AT RIALTO
Men are rarely appreciated in their own communities, but Vance DeBar Colvig, known to the artistic world as "Pinto" the cartoonist, is at least an exception to this rule. His material, which will be shown at the Rialto Theater Monday and Tuesday, cannot fail to be favorably received by the Medford public.
"Pinto" is the creator of a new and novel style of motion picture animated cartoon. While his figures are as others in this line of work, the heads are of live human beings. In this his material is both original and unique.
"Pinto's" work has another element of distinction. His humorous titles convey a satire that carries a deep and philosophical meaning, and this enhances its value. Some of the patriotic suggestions conveyed in his cartoons are of great value in arousing patriotism. He is a distinct product of southern Oregon, and with the fame that is certain to come to him his life work will surely add to the reputation of the community. Here it was that he secured his early inspiration.
Medford Sun, April 28, 1918, page 10 also Medford Mail Tribune, April 27, 1918, page 4
August 15, 1918 Medford Mail Tribune
Colvig Vance De B (Margaret), cartoonist, r 1230 Jackson
San Francisco City Directory, 1919
They had colored cartoons as early as January 1919. At that time Pinto Colvig, who is prominent in cartooning today, drew a series called "Pinto's Prizma Comedy Review." They were colored by the William V. D. Kelley Prizma color [process].
Earl Theisen, "Hollywood Note Book," International Photographer, May 1934, page 3
"Pinto" Colvig, cartoonist for the Tam Slide company, is the guest of Mrs. Nixon from San Francisco.
"Personals," Nevada State Journal, Reno, February 24, 1919, page 4
As the patrons and 25 members of San Francisco's motion picture row, who are guests of Mrs. K. I. Nixon, passed out of the Majestic Theater, five motion picture cameras filmed the large crowd. . . . Film guests present were: . . . V. D. Colvig, Gaumont Weekly and Tam Films. . . .
"Majestic Patrons 'Shot' by Film Men," Nevada State Journal, Reno, February 24, 1919, page 6
March 5, 1919 San Francisco Bulletin
NOT SO EASY AS IT SOUNDS
JUMPING INTO FILM STARDOM HAS ITS DRAWBACKS.
Even to Help the Red Cross, a San Francisco Woman Found the Experience
Sadly Lacking in Inspiration.
Ruth Taylor in the San Francisco Bulletin.
If someday my name is blazoned forth in flickering lights in front of a "fillum" theater, and you go in and see me get dragged over a cliff by the head of my hair, to be rescued in the last act by a tall, dark, handsome man, and you say, "Why on earth doesn't that wonderful man pick a girl to play opposite him who wouldn't hurt your eyes to look at"--don't blame me for causing your agitation. It will be all the fault of one "Pinto" Colvig, who made a movie actress out of me the other day.
It was a drama for the Red Cross, so I let my patriotism get the better of my inherent modesty. And I hereby announce that there is nothing to compare with the sensation you have when the director yells, "Aw right! Begin to act. Register joy." And you feel like registering only a hasty exit.
This was a drama in which there was a weeping and destitute woman with a chee-ild, whose father was hunting Heinies in Hunland. And the lady wept upon a table on which were the empty milk bottle, the lone crust of bread, and the rent bill--widely known symbols of extreme poverty. And just when she sighed and set down the picture of her absent spouse, I had to knock at the door, enter like a Red Cross angel of mercy, press some cash into her trembling hand, caress the child and depart, leaving only gladness behind me.
Sounds simple, doesn't it? Well, that's as far as the simplicity goes--sounding.
In the first place, the poverty-stricken woman appeared in a dainty morning dress and a frilly boudoir cap that made her look like a million dollars. But I don't blame her. If I were as good-looking as she, I wouldn't waste my beauty in a ragged gown, either. But they finally fixed her up, and gave her the child and a husband, both of whom it was a bit hard to acquire and assimilate in such a brief moment.
I shan't dwell on my emotions as I attempted to register compassion, and I haven't decided yet whether I'll go in for a film career or stick to writing. I'll see this picture first, and if my face doesn't show TOO much in it I may be able to land a role as mummy in some movie, provided they keep the mummy in a sarcophagus.
Kansas City (Missouri) Star, March 22, 1919, page 11
P-I-N-T-O"Local Briefs," Medford Mail Tribune, September 8, 1920, page 2
That making an animated cartoon is the beginning of the answer of "Why Padded Cells Are Crowded."
"Before making an animated cartoon of the little California Theatre bears, I generally take a couple of cups of catnip tea, take a bath in a compound solution of ice cream soda and sassafras oil; then I recite all my prayers backwards and go to bed and sleep beneath a crazy quilt.
"The following morning when I go to the movie studio, all I have to do is draw about 500 little bears, cut 'em out like paper dolls, photograph 'em one by one with the movie camera, and after the motion picture film is thoroughly soaked in a barrel of puree of onions and garlic juice, it is then ready to bring to the California Theatre to either be rejected or paid for.
"After that it's done, all I gotta do is run over to The Bulletin and write a story and draw a picture to fit it.
"Pretty soft for some fellers, ain't it?"
California Theatre, San Francisco, program for "The Crimson Gardenia," June 15, 1919, SOHS MS9 folder 25
The surprise portion of the Tivoli's programme hereafter will be the Pinto Cartoon Review. A "surprise" because they are so unusually good even for cartoons and local talent. Each week he of Pinto fame will inject into the programme bright spots from the world of humor, editorials, kid stuff and woman's fashions from a mere man's viewpoint.
San Francisco Chronicle, September 14, 1919, page 5
October 3, 1919 San Francisco Bulletin
Vance D. Colvig, 27, newspaper cartoonist, born in Oregon, father born Iowa, mother Oregon
October 22, 1919 San Francisco Bulletin
November 7, 1919 San Francisco Bulletin
1385 Clay Street, San Francisco
Margaret N. Colvig, 27, born in Oregon, father born Ireland, mother England
Vance D. Colvig Jr., 1 11/12, born in California
U.S. Census, enumerated January 6-7, 1920
"Pinto" Colvig, well known in Reno as well as here, is on the cartooning staff of the San Francisco Bulletin but expects to take up animated picture work shortly. He and his family contemplate a visit to Reno and Carson this summer.
"Carson City Items," Reno Evening Gazette, January 26, 1920, page 6
December 18, 1919 San Francisco Bulletin
The California Theater has adopted a bear as its mascot, and for the last two years not a program has been presented at this house without being introduced by bruin in animated form on the screen. It has brought out the "Li'l Movie Bear" in plaster form and has sold many of these in the lobby of the house.
Mansfield F. House, "The Business Column," The Racine Journal-News, Racine, Wisconsin, April 3, 1920, page 11
Mrs. [sic] Vance Colvig and two children of San Francisco are guests of their father and grandfather, Judge W. M. Colvig.
CARSON CITY, Oct. 13.--Vance Colvig, better known to this section as "Pinto," the cartoonist, is doing work for the screen now. "Art-I-Jokes" are a combination of the witticism of the day and the illustration of them in cartoons, the drawings being shown in the course of production.
"Carson City Briefs," Reno Evening Gazette, October 12, 1920, page 9
Educational to Release Cartoon Novelty
"Art-I-Jokes" is the unusual title of a half-reel series to be released every two weeks through Educational Film Exchanges, Inc. They are described as an unusual novelty combining the cleverest written humor of American publications, combined with animated sketching that not only reproduces the original illustrations, but adds the interpretation of the designer of the pictures.
"Art-I-Jokes" are the work of Vance de Bar Colvig, one of the most noted newspaper artists of the Pacific Coast, under the name of "Pinto."
There is very little "reading matter" in "Art-I-Jokes." The words are flashed on the screen and then the drawings are seen in the course of their creation, the original work of the author-artist finally resulting.
Moving Picture World, October 9, 1920, page 813
"Pinto," with his nightmare safely caged, is revisiting the scenes of his youth--the days before he came to fame and acquired two little Pintos and a life mate. "Pinto" is Vance DeBar Colvig, son of Judge William M. Colvig of Medford, former head of the tax and right-of-way department of the Southern Pacific. The Portland visitor, who first gained fame as a cartoonist by his work in his college publication, has just returned from New York, where he contracted for a series of unusual film comics that may be coming this way before long. He has, since he quit the circus band wagons, aboard which he played an E-flat clarinet, been doing newspaper and sports cartooning in California.
"More or Less Personal," Oregon Journal, Portland, October 21, 1920, page 10
"Pinto," with his nightmare safely caged, is revisiting the scenes of his youth--the days before he came to fame and acquired two little Pintos and a life mate. "Pinto" is Vance DeBar Colvig, son of Judge William M. Colvig of Medford, former head of the tax and right-of-way department of the Southern Pacific. The Portland visitor, who first gained fame as a cartoonist by his work in his college publication, has just returned from New York, where he contracted for a series of unusual film comics that may be coming this way before long. He has, since he quit the circus band wagons, aboard which he played an E-flat clarinet, been doing newspaper and sports cartooning in California.--Portland Journal.
"Personals," Medford Mail Tribune, October 22, 1920, page 5
Vance Colvig, well known to Medford as "Pinto" Colvig, is in the city a few days visiting his father, Judge Mr. Colvig. Mr. Colvig is a cartoonist of no mean ability and is now engaged in producing animated cartoons for the movies.
"Personal," Medford Sun, October 31, 1920, page 5
"Art-I-Jokes" is the unique title of a screen novelty just announced by Educational Films for early release. They consist of paragraphs and illustrations from leading magazines and newspapers. In each case the original drawing is utilized, but the audience sees their recreation, with the interpretation of the designer and his pen comments added. They are the work of Vance DeBar Colvig, an artist who is well known on the Pacific coast under the pen name of "Pinto."
Moving Picture Stories, November 12, 1920, page 27
John Reter of Jacksonville spent Friday in the city making arrangements for the banquet and jollification to be held in that city tonight over the retention of the courthouse. Vance "Pinto" Colvig has drawn a cartoon for the occasion, with Col. H. H. Sargent as the central figure.
"Local Briefs," Medford Mail Tribune, November 20, 1920, page 2
Vance D. Colvig (Margaret), cartoons, 1112 Market r 1160 Clay
Pinto Cartoon Comedies, 1112 Market
San Francisco City Directory, 1921
During the concert of Al. G. Barnes' superb band, both afternoon and evening, they played "Pinto's Nightmare" in honor of Judge Wm. Colvig, father of Vance "Pinto" Colvig, and the number received loud applause. "Pinto" traveled with the Barnes circus band two or three years and had the honor of being leader on several occasions. It was a splendid compliment to both Judge Colvig and "Pinto," and a credit to the band.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, May 5, 1921, page 2
May 26, 1921 San Francisco Chronicle
Vance "Pinto" Colvig left yesterday for San Francisco after spending a couple of days in the city. He is drawing animated cartoons for the moving pictures, which will be released in September.
"Local Briefs," Medford Mail Tribune, July 20, 1921, page 3
W. M. COLVIG CELEBRATES HIS 77TH BIRTHDAYMedford Mail Tribune, September 2, 1921, page 6
Judge William M. Colvig, a pioneer of Oregon, and one of the state's best-known citizens, is celebrating his 77th birthday anniversary today, and started the day by reviewing an animated movie cartoon of his son, Vance, known as "Pinto." Judge Colvig was born in Richmond, Missouri, a year after Jesse James, the notorious bandit, saw daylight in the same town. A birthday dinner will be the feature of the day. Judge Colvig received congratulations from scores of friends throughout the state and county.
"LI'L MOVIE BEAR" IS COMING BACK
TO BE MASCOT OF THEATER
"Li'l Movie Bear" needs no introduction to the San Francisco public. For more than four years he acted as "general mascot and chief title patroller" on the California Theater screen. A sassy, impudent little rascal who was ever on the job, but dear to the hearts of many--especially to the children.
"Pinto," his creator, will be remembered as "The Sagebrush Jollier," who, with "The Duke of Windy Gap," philosophized, both in cartoon and story, their contrasted views between "small-town stuff" and big city ideas on the pages of The Bulletin a year or so ago. "Pinto" now is making animated cartoons for national distribution at the Pintacko Studios.
MYSTERY SOLVED."OH, WHERE, OH, WHERE, HAS THE MOVIE BEAR GONE?"
That's what the California's patrons have been wondering for the past few months. Here's the mystery solved:
Pinto made a clay model of "Li'l Bear," which was destined to run a neck-and-neck race on the market with the kewpies and other popular "mud characters." The original model was copyrighted in the archives of Washington, D.C., jointly by Pinto and Charlie Pincus, one of the managers of the California. A manufacturer was chosen to make up several thousand plaster casts of this model. When he delivered the first lot they were not as ordered. Pinto and Pincus, out of respect to their little mascot, refused the order, taking into consideration the fact that "Li'l Bear" should not be insulted or maltreated in such a manner. To place a muddy-looking grotesque of their happy little friend on the market would have been a gross insult to the character itself, they contended. Subsequently the manufacturer had his attorney herald Pinto, Pincus and "Li'l Movie Bear" into the courts on a suit to recover payment.
Why the case was filed in Oakland no one has ever yet found out. Pinto, Pincus and their attorney, nevertheless, were in the corridors of the Oakland courts early on the morning that the case was called.
WHAT HAPPENED IN COURT.BANG! sounds the judge's gavel. All was still in the courtroom. Pinto holds his freckled duke high toward the heavens and swears to tell "nuthin' but th' truth!" Attorney for the plaintiff cross-examines Pinto. Attorney for the plaintiff also relates to the good judge his facts of the case. It looked like "curtains" for "Li'l Movie Bear" until the defendants' attorney steps forth and tells the judge how dear to the hearts of the movie populace "Li'l Movie Bear" really is and how the manufacturers did him up in mud and made a joke of him.
After both sides put forth their arguments, the judge finally asks Pinto just what part of Oakland he lives in.
"Never lived in Oakland in my life," retorts Pinto. Attorney for the plaintiff looks surprised.
"Well, then," says the judge. "I presume, then, that the plaintiff lives in Oakland?"
"No, your honor," came a reply from the plaintiff's attorney; "he is a resident of San Francisco."
"Well, what THE SAM HILL IS THIS CASE DOING IN MY COURT OVER HERE," says the judge. "You fellows better go back to your home town and fight it out amongst yourselves!"
BANG! goes the judge's gavel! "Court's adjourned," . . . and thus ended a wild and checkered career for poor "Li'l Movie Bear."
So now he's going back to work on his old stamping ground, amid the bright lights. Back on the silver sheet at the California, where he'll be ever welcome by his friends of yesterday.
HE CRAVES ACTION."Li'l Movie Bear" feels just as important to the silver screen as Herman Heller is to the orchestra. They both believe that "every li'l movement has a meaning all its own." "No more statue life for me," says "Li'l Movie Bear." "I crave ACTION, and, by golly, I'm gonna git it."
So there you are.
Beginning November 20, "Li'l Movie Bear" makes his second initial bow to the California's patrons, never to desert them again.
San Francisco Bulletin, November 16, 1921
Colvig Vance D. (Margaret), cartoonist, 1112 Market r 2631 Anza
Pin-Tack-O animated cartoons, 1112 Market
San Francisco City Directory, 1922
Pinto, the well-known cartoonist who was formerly connected with newspapers both in Reno and Carson City, is now cartoonist on the San Francisco Chronicle. He has also gained considerable reputation in moving picture cartoons. Few know him by his real name of Vance Colvig.
"Carson City Briefs," Reno Evening Gazette, March 31, 1922, page 2
Pinto Tells How He Uses Ink
It's All a Question of Ideas, Artist Says, with Patience as First Aid
Everybody in San Francisco knows and loves "Li'l Movie Bear," who marches so proudly across the screen at the California Theater and then marches back, guarding the pictures, spreading laughs, bringing cheer and endearing himself to patrons of the house.
Once the managing directors thought the public had tired of his quaint antics, and he was banished from the program, but there was such a storm of protest, such a flood of letters asking for his return to guard duty, he was put back, and he is likely to stay put so long as the California houses pictures, which seems a long, long time.
He's a sassy little creature, this Li'l Movie Bear, in looks at least, with his sharp little nose and his round little paunch, and his sturdy little stride as he makes his way from one end of the screen to the other, turns with military precision and goes back the same road.
And then his big act, for he is versatile, when he juggles a bomb, which finally explodes in the air and fragments spread out into the caption "The California Theater Presents." How proudly he goes about that.
HE'S REALLY [A] TAME LITTLE QUADRUPED
The little fellow is docile. He does whatever he is told to do, or made to do, by his creator and the manager of the California. And he never talks back, and has only one vice. He drinks ink! Bottles of it, just like a baby drinks milk. He is cheerful, never sulks, nor plays truant, nor tires.
He might well do that, for in the five years, or nearly five years, he has been walking across the screen of the California, he has walked many weary miles, about 1826 of them in fact. He made his bow when the California Theater was opened, November 1, 1917, and except for the brief time when he was banished, he has been on duty day and night ever since.
He walks approximately one mile a day, 365 miles a day, and in five years, with the extra day in leap year, has walked 1826 miles.
Uncle Sam is his protector and friend, for he is copyrighted and registered in Washington, D.C., and nobody but his secretary and manager, Pinto, and the managers of the California Theater, can order him about.
Once they made a statuette of Li'l Movie Bear, and they went so fast the supply was sold in a few days.
For everybody loves him.
Maybe a word or two about Pinto might be interesting, for Pinto created Li'l Movie Bear.
HIS NAME ALMOST SPOILS THE ILLUSION
His real name isn't Pinto at all, but Vance De Bar Colvig, and in his time he has played many parts. He is a college graduate, has been a hobo, director of a circus band, and actor, writer, cartoonist. He says he has been everything but a dressmaker or a manicurist, and that the only things he has escaped are fortune and jail.
But he is young, and there is time for both.
He is married and has three children, and he loves Li'l Movie Bear as though he were one of his children, for he is such a lovable little fellow, always willing to work, whether it be in a newspaper cartoon, on the screen or wherever he is put.
Then he costs nothing to keep, except the ink and the drawing board, and he brings in a comfortable income to his creator, which is a thing many children do not do.
The film showing the bomb bursting is fifty feet long. It takes Pinto from four to six days to make it, and it runs off on the screen in less than one minute. Three hundred drawings are necessary for that one bit. Each drawing is photographed, one at a time, and according to mathematical arrangement, by a movie camera that is focused downward on the drawing board.
EVERY STEP MEANS HOURS OF LABOR
To make him take one step requires twelve separate drawings. The walk is a repetition of the step, so the twelve drawings are photographed over and over again until there are enough steps to cover the space on the screen.
"The artist who makes an animated cartoon," Pinto says, "has a sort of idea how the action will look, but he is sometimes surprised when he sees the fruits of his labor flashed on the screen. Often the action is better than he expects. Sometimes it is not."
And now you know something about Li'l Movie Bear's history, his habits, his mechanics and his creator.
San Francisco Chronicle, September 3, 1922, page D6
Pinto, popular cartoonist of the United Feature Syndicate, and known from coast to coast, has been made "gagman" for Century Comedy productions.
February 16, 1924 Universal Weekly
"Comedy Clippings," Camera, January 13, 1923
Continuity on the Buster Brown comedies is now being prepared. These will star Brownie, the dog, as "Tige." Pinto, cartoonist of United Features Syndicate, has been engaged as gag man.
"Century Cut-Backs," Motion Picture News, January 20, 1923, page 373
Vance de Bar Colvig, or Pinto, as he is known by his work for the United Feature Syndicate, has been added to the Al Herman unit at Century as gag man.
"Coast Brevities," The Film Daily, January 27, 1923, page 3
Stern Brothers Secure "Pinto" as Gag Writer
Vance de Bar Colvig, known as Pinto to the readers of newspapers supplied by the United Feature Syndicate, has been engaged as gag writer for Century Comedies by the Stern Brothers. Pinto, known throughout the United States as a cartoonist and caption writer of exceptionally subtle humor, was made gag man for the Al Herman Century Comedy unit.
The acquiring of Pinto stands behind the Stern Brothers' statement that no expense would be spared to make the 1923 crop of Century Comedies a record one.
Exhibitors Trade Review, February 3, 1923, page 506
Cartoonist and Writer Gag Man for Century
Vance de Bar Colvig, better known as "Pinto" by over 7,000,000 readers of newspapers supplied by the United Feature Syndicate, has been engaged as gag writer for Century Comedies by the Stern Brothers. "Pinto," known through the United States as a cartoonist and caption writer of exceptionally subtle humor, was made gag man for the Al Herman Century Comedy unit. Clever men who create comedy situations--in the vernacular of the studio "gagmen"--are very scarce. The acquiring of "Pinto" stands behind the Stern Brothers' statement that no expense would be spared to make the 1923 crop of Century Comedies a record one. His first job was with Al Herman in his initial release for the new year.
Motion Picture News, February 3, 1923, page 590
In keeping with the high-class material used in Century comedies, Stern Brothers have signed a well-known cartoonist and caption writer who is known throughout the country for his work under the name of "Pinto," and his cartoons are widely syndicated in newspapers. He is already at work on his first production providing the "gags."
The Moving Picture World, February 3, 1923, page 495
VIVE LA "PINTO"!
"Pinto" has made good!
The next time you are convulsed with laughter at a moving picture comedy, look closely to see if it is a "Century"--then you'll know if "Pinto" wrote it. Back in the old days at O.A.C. when there wasn't even an Orange Owl "Pinto" served his apprenticeship as a humorist. Though he had the wit of a Falstaff, he had the tendencies of a hobo.
Probably the present generation of Aggies won't remember "Pinto." For many years the "razz" section of a Beaver annual wasn't complete unless it contained a cartoon by Vance DeBar Colvig, known also as "Pinto" or the "millionaire tramp" or the "hobo cartoonist." Turn back to the Beaver files of six or seven years ago, and you may see his work--familiar by a tiny vagabond mule in the corner, bearing his name.
Colvig was also a clarinet player, and a good one. A circus came to Corvallis in the spring, along about the time the wildflowers start blooming on the banks of Mary's River. "Pinto" forsook his diploma for the big tent and the sawdust ring, joined the circus band and went "on the road." A year later he was married in Portland, and started drawing a comic strip for newspapers.
Again came the call of the wanderlust to "Pinto" and he sought his fortune in the southland. He took a fling at writing the funny subtitles for movies, and just recently as the official "gag writer" for Century comedies. The "gag writer," be it known, is the man who creates the side-splitting comedy situation for the photoplays, and really clever "gag" men can name their own salaries.
The Motion Picture News, which declares 7,000,000 readers have delighted in Colvig's comic cartoons, says, "The acquiring of 'Pinto' stands behind the Stern brothers' statements that no expense would be spared to make the 1923 crop of Century comedies a record one. His first work under the new contract was with Al Herman in his initial release for the new year."
Some time, if you are ever up to Professor J. B. Horner's "den," you will see a framed cartoon by "Pinto" on one of the walls. Professor Horner and "Pinto" were great old pals, and the Professor tells the following story about him:
"One time just before the Pendleton Roundup 'Pinto' made a bet with some of the boys here that he could start for Pendleton without money, take in the show, and return with money in his pocket. He borrowed a lot of chalk from the college, and drew pictures on boxcars and barns on the way. He won his bet, and when he got back, he brought back money that he had earned."
Although "Pinto's" career has been a varied one since the days when he received his freshman baptism at the lady of the fountain, he will be remembered as a dyed-in-the-wool Aggie and, b'gosh, we're proud of him!
Oregon Agricultural College Barometer, February 13, 1923, page 2
"Pinto," the famous cartoonist of the San Francisco Call, has been engaged by Educational-Cameo Comedies to write titles and supply comedy ideas for the future productions under the direction of Fred Hibbard.
"Studio Chatter," Mansfield News, Ohio, February 19, 1923, page 3
Hollywood, Cal.Dear Don & Family,
1342 Myra Ave.
Apr. 1st 1923
I am nurse to the 4 Pintos tonight. Vance & wife have gone down to Venice to attend a try-out of a comedy that his company has just finished (ink all gone). The film is entitled "The 3rd Strike." It has to do with a baseball game. I have witnessed the making of some of the parts, and it is very funny. Vance named it, and is the author of the "gags" & the explanatory notes. It is the custom to run a new play before an unsuspecting audience--and see what kind of a reception the public will give. The company will have 8 to 10 people scattered through the audience to observe--and if 60% of the people laugh, the owners will pronounce it O.K. and release it to distributors over the U.S.--but if it falls below, it will be worked over. Vance is one of the critics tonight. I wanted Margaret to go, as she has every hour taken up with the babies, and seldom or never gets out. So I screwed up courage to propose caring for the whole outfit tonight, including Bourke--the latest Sinn-Feiner that has added hilarity to his house. It takes 50 minutes to go to Venice. They left @ 7 & it is now 8--and "all is well"--not a squawk from any of them--and they are, without doubt, the noisiest bunch of kids I ever knew. They will fight at the "drop of a hat" and drop it themselves--but they are very bright and interesting.
I have been here just 1 week. I stayed 3 days at Byron Springs for "rheumatiz"--but without effect. I am no better than when under the sunny skies of R.R.Vy.
We have a fire in the fireplace nearly every morning and evening since I came. Last night it rained enough to lay the dust.
Everybody in this part of the city is connected in some manner with production companies (moving pictures). These people do not spare expense. Vance's company has been at a cost of $2000 per day for 10 days in getting out the 3rd Strike.
Some of the dogs earn $10 per day--educated ones, & with their master included--but the money comes rolling back in increased volume.
A company near here are filming the story of Miles Standish. They are making an exact replica of the Mayflower here, in sight of the front door, 20 men working at it--and have been ever since Helen was here. It is nearly finished, at a cost of $100,000. They will not use it after it is filmed. Every detail is perfect, but of course only a shell. Last week the Jack White Co. bought 2 second-hand Ford cars. They filmed a collision--a complete wreck--and the cars were a pile of junk when they finished.
I am going to Tijuana and San Diego this week--will be here next Sunday. About 15th I will stop off and see you.
It is now 9 o'clock--and all is well--no sound breaks in on my solitude. Every day in every way &c.
DadTim Colvig collection
Pinto Colvig Gets Big Boost in the Portland Journal
Because he was the "freckledest" kid in Jacksonville, Ore., Vance De Bar Colvig became "Pinto" to the youngsters of the bailiwick the year he started to school. And "Pinto" he has remained to this day, sawdust trails and celluloid routes to fame, fortune and family notwithstanding.
"Pinto" came to claim the attention of Judge and Mrs. William M. Colvig at Jacksonville "in the fall of '92," and while the good Judge was advancing politically and otherwise his youngest gave much evidence of the quality of genius that has now brought him to the fore in motion picture work. Both father and son are well known in Portland and the state. The former became head of the tax and right-of-way department of the Southern Pacific, and "Pinto," by way of the circus bandwagon, the cartoonist's easel and matrimony, became a "gag" man and a sometimes comedian in pictures.
The Jackson County youth someday will write it all under the head of "From Sawdust to Celluloid, via the Wedding Route." In the meantime his press agent supplies some vital information for those who know him and those who ought to.
Vance Colvig received his first recognition as a cartoonist at nine years of age when his teacher called upon him to explain his weird caricature of the prominent features of C. C. Beekman, honored Jacksonville banker. "Since then," the artist confesses, "I have avoided being offensive, for memories of that teacher's practical application of a vigorous lesson about respecting dignity remain very fresh."
It was about the same time that the wanderlust seized "Pinto," and found its only rebuffs in the fact that freight trains and hoboes were at Medford, a whole five miles away. Hence he contented himself playing in a small-town band, witnessing crucial horseshoe pitching contests and being a regular boy generally.
Three or four times a year the Quaker Doctors, the Georgia Harper Stock Company and the like would appear. Those were happy days! As a showman "Pinto" was a huge success carrying banners or holding music for the colored trombonist, or "suping" for Georgia Harper. When he was 13 the family moved to Medford--a metropolis of freight cars, twice-a-year circuses and consequent opportunity to defy paternal regulation. Going to school, he avers, was much like taking poison, especially when spring burst upon the orchard lands.
"I thought it would be mighty nice to find myself on the twenty-fifth floor of the New York Times building wearing an artist's purple smock, my studio laden with Persian rugs, with Venus and Dante in statue and incense burners in every corner, while I turned out a "Homer Davenport" daily and received a weekly check that made the telephone number blush," Colvig recalls. "Never having been in a big newspaper office, that was my idea of its class. Imagine my chagrin when I did invade the artist's stuffy corner when they had to hang the inkwell from the ceiling for want of room.
"I had visualized a book I would write. 'Around the World on Thirty Cents,' bound in bright yellow, after I had beaten my way around the world. It would be 'By Pinto, Tramp Cartoonist.' But I'm glad now that I never wrote that book.
"My future was a serious matter with Dad. He wanted me to become a great lawyer or a great baseball player, but after mature deliberation he got me a job in the freight department of the Medford depot. One of my daily duties was to check up every car on the side tracks and enter it in a big book. One evening, with time to waste, I made the entry by drawing a picture of the car, putting a hobo on top of it with a brakeman kicking him off. A week or so later the efficiency expert sweetly informed me that I was working for a railroad, not a comic supplement in a newspaper. I objected to the way he 'ran down' my art and I quit.
"Next day I was en route to Portland to take a job with a traveling band. The band breathed its last a few days later in Pendleton, and I was put to it to move around on the under or top side of freight cars. The following fall I became an earnest student at the Oregon Agricultural College. I learned how to paddle a canoe and roll Bull Durham with one hand before I broke loose as a vaudeville chalk talker and wound up in Seattle. There a circus bandwagon claimed me and my E-flat clarinet. I quit the show in Cedar Rapids, Iowa [July 10, 1913--see above], and with another ne'er-do-well with a millionaire father somewhere in Kentucky, I did some tall traveling. In one town I hocked the clarinet for a meal ticket and sought a job. My partner landed one at $2 a day, and with his first wages we reclaimed the music maker. The restaurant man hired my friend as a waiter. At meal times I would come in, order T-bone with trimmings, and my waiter would slip me a bill for 'coffee and toast, 15 cents,' and hand me the dime to pay it.
"But another winter was in the offing, and I drifted westward to Denver. An old-time circus bandsman with whom I had traveled enlisted me in a carnival circus band working west. It featured a Roman circus, and our uniforms had Julius Caesars looking to their laurels. We opened in Cheyenne and went broke three weeks later in Colorado Springs. [The Consolidated Roman Carnival Company opened in Cheyenne August 19, 1913.]
"Back home again and then for a brief stab at college. But I didn't hit the stride and soon went to Nevada to work on a Reno paper, the Nevada Rock Roller, a yellow political sheet. The editor was sent to the pest house with smallpox, and I landed in Carson City as a cartoonist for the News during a legislative session.
"And then came another spring. 'Twas circus time. I was off. I finished the season atop the bandwagon and sailed from Los Angeles to Portland. There I met a wonderful girl, Miss Margaret Slavin, who was willing to play a Steve Brodie and 'take a chance.' On February 23, 1916, I kissed all the elephants goodbye forever, held my freckled 'duke' high in the air and said, 'I do.' Believe me, I did."
"We moved to San Francisco, where I made animated film cartoons for a couple of years. Worked a year as feature writer and cartoonist for the Bulletin, where I was known as 'the boob reporter.' I quit that to make the first colored animated cartoons for Prizma, Inc. Then I made a strip for the Chronicle, which was syndicated through the country. My newspaper interviews put me in touch with movie people, who encouraged me, and I kicked over the traces and came to Los Angeles. I worked as 'gag' man on a picture for Century Comedies and then was called by Jack White, where I am doing gags, titling and acting when I feel like it in Mermaid Comedies. Jack White, only 24 years old, with 12 different minds where only one ought to be, is a great fellow to work for. Yet I seem to work with--not for--him. There you are. The whole truth, but not all of it."
"Pinto" now gets his kick out of taking his four fine boys to the circus and making himself one of the "hicks" with a bag of peanuts, balloons and all. It's better than trouping under the big tops, he says. But hoboing, circus days and Jacksonville nativity have given this "boxcar idol" and "circus bandwagon enthusiast" a great grasp of details and human nature, and he's capitalizing [on] these in films.
Until he married and until boy number four arrived there hadn't been a half dozen serious moments in Colvig's life. Now he's serious all over, though he still finds time to let a smile break through his freckles and "I'm enjoying life as I never did before," he says.
Al G. Barnes, in whose circus band "Pinto" was many times a trouper, was a practical school master for the Medford boy. The way Barnes has of going after a problem and solving it with the least ceremony, grasping big things by the nape of the neck, without a worry for the outcome, has been a continuous inspiration to Colvig and one from which he is profiting every day. There's nothing to worry about, he believes, for everything has to turn out right in the end.--Oregon Journal.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 3, 1923, page 8
I do want to thank you again for wiring me that money to Manitou, Colorado on my birthday – the same day that show I was traveling with went KERFLOP! That was the world's smallest show with the l o n g e s t title: THE GREAT ROMAN CIRCUS & AMERICAN CARNIVAL COMPANIES. Ha! 10-piece band – daring Roman Riders and Chariot Racers – 20 Beautiful (?) Grecian Slave Girls …" They could have called it "Elinor Glyn's Sequel" because it lasted just that long … three weeks. We opened in Cheyenne, Wyoming – a week in Greeley, Colorado, and the following week in "Garden of the Gods" (Colorado Springs) some guy slapped an attachment on the show and six months later the Sheriff's office there mailed me my three weeks' salary.
Pinto Colvig, Clowns Is People, 1935, Southern Oregon Historical Society MS9
"Cold Chills," a Jack White comedy, starring Louise Fazenda and written by "Pinto," is also on the program. . . .
"Jack London's 'Brute' Now at Granada," San Francisco Chronicle, April 29, 1923, page 3
Byron Hot SpringsDear Don:
It is beautiful here and I like it after the heat of Los Angeles and the rush of San Francisco. I hate Los Angeles. It is hot and dirty there. But the trip down & back on the steamer was delightful. We found Vance and family established in a nice little bungalow out in Hollywood. Vance wasn't home when we arrived and Margaret was doing the family laundry as per usual. When Vance came home he looked all in. He is with the "Century Movie Co.," a sort of assist. director & actor. We went out to some park to see them "shoot" and the "Buckeye Comedies" of Merton fame were classic compared to the acts we saw put on. Poor Vance--I think a lot of his splendid optimism has petered out. Looking for apartments in Los Angeles or bungalows with 4 kids in the offing--and haunting studios for a job about used him up. Margaret is as fat as ever & a little fatter. Ditto is cute and smart as can be. Mason is pretty & unmanageable and the two youngest are regular shamrocks.
Micawber-like, on Sunday they had us out to dinner, and friends and acquaintances from all around were bidden to the feast.
We will be home Tues. eve--I hate to go as I've had such a good, lazy time. I'm afraid I'm spoiled--up to date I don't think I've made any mistake in my selection of a husband.
Hope Star & the youngsters are well. Give my love to them and with much for yourself.
As everVance's youngest is named "Bourke." Good name for a policeman.
Tim Colvig collection.
In the first of the [Mermaid Comedies] series, "High Life," which has been finished under the direction of Hugh Fay, [Lige] Conley is supported by Lillian Hackett, Otto Fries, Jack Lloyd, Sunshine Hart, Eva Thatcher, Gloria Gilmore and those two inimitable colored comics, "Moonlight," formerly known as Spencer Bell, and Henry Trask. . . .
The settings being used in the new series of Mermaid Comedies would do credit to some of the more elaborate dramatic feature productions. With the space and facilities of the entire Fine Arts studio at his disposal, [Jack] White is endowing the Mermaids with settings such as have never before been used in the production of pictures of this type.
The story has by no means been forgotten, either, for White is a firm believer in the necessity of a logical plot for a genuine comedy. To this end he is giving personal supervision to his own scenario department, with such clever "gag" writers as "Pinto," the cartoonist, Roy Myers and Joe LeBrandt working with him.
"Mermaid Favorites Retained," Motion Picture News, August 25, 1923, page 911
"PINTO" WITH CENTURY
"Pinto," whose cartoon work is syndicated in a large number of newspapers, has been engaged by Century to pass on the scripts for all completed comedies in the capacity of gagman.
The Moving Picture World, December 15, 1923, page 643
"Pinto" the Cartoonist Joins Century
Century Comedies will have "Pinto," a well-known western cartoonist, to work on all completed scripts in the capacity of "gagman." Each script will be built up carefully by directors, writers and gagmen and "Pinto" will be associated with several other men on this staff, among whom is Edward Luddy, Al Harman's personal gagman and scenario writer.
Motion Picture News, December 15, 1923, page 2804
Colvig Vance D, title writer, h 1342 Myra av
Los Angeles City Directory, 1924
Editors of the Century Comedy studios are cutting and titling three of the newest pictures produced by this company. . . .
"Past and Present," which was made by Bob Kerr, features Jack Earle and Harry McCoy. Marjorie Marcel plays the leading ingenue role. Frank Alexander, a veteran of two-reel comedies, plays the prehistoric and present-day father. The story, written by Pinto, the famous cartoonist, deals with love and prize fighting in [the] B.C. period as well as the present finale hopper craze.
"Three New Centuries Being Cut," Exhibitors Trade Review, January 26, 1924, page 31
"Pinto" Colvig Appears As Star in the MoviesA Century-Universal picture to be released in February entitled "Keep Moving" features Vance D. B. (Pinto) Colvig, son of Judge W. M. Colvig. Tuller's Magazine, a screen critic, in its December 29 issue says:
"A great character in this movie is the cross-eyed mute taxicab driver, played by Pinto Colvig. Let me tell you he certainly hits 100 percent in this part. He puts on one of the funniest portrayals ever seen on the screen. It will not soon be forgotten. Colvig's characterizations make him appear as the greatest taxicab driver in the world."
The Geo. A. Hunt Co. will show this picture here, and it will be welcomed by Pinto's friends and will be a treat for all movie lovers.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 29, 1924, page 8
Made Head of Century Script Building Department
News dispatches from Julius Stern, president of Century Comedies, who is now at his West Coast studios, report that the script building department, a new unit designed to aid directors, has been already formed, and Pinto, the famous cartoonist-gagman, will head it.
This new department, which should do much for the betterment of the Centuries in the way of stories and direction, will be headed by a man who is ably fitted for this work. Pinto, known by millions for his cartoons, has won recognition as a first-class gagman from his work with Al Herman, director-in-chief of Century Comedies. His work as head of the script building department will bring all original and purchased material under his jurisdiction, and before a script is turned over to the director for production it will undergo rigid alterations and building up. This will make every Century story holeproof and as near-perfect as possible. Gagging will play the biggest part in the "building up," since it is the intention of Julius and Abe Stern to make every sequence exceedingly humorous and lifelike, as well as original.
The advisory staff is headed by Julius Stern, and consists of Sig Neufeld, Bert Sternbach and Max Alexander.
Exhibitors Trade Review, February 2, 1924, page 29 This press release also ran in the Universal Weekly of February 16, 1924, page 34.
New Century Scripts
Century reports the purchase of three new scripts which will be handled by the new script-building department, which Pinto has been selected to head. They are "The Stilts Man" for Jack Earle and Harry McCoy, "Pal's Clever" for Pal the dog and an unnamed story for the Century Follies girls.
Moving Picture World, February 2, 1924, page 417
A rather disconnected arrangement of light episodes in this Century comedy weakens its grip on the average sense of humor. In a few places it is amusing, but most of it seems obvious and forced. Jack Earle plays an elongated traffic cop whose ventures in the field of love, with Harry McCoy as a rival, furnish the situations.--M.K.
Moving Picture World, February 9, 1924, page 499
Good Number of Its Type
Type of production 2-reel comedy
This is a more than usually entertaining Century comedy, featuring Jack Earle and Harry McCoy, and a cute little girl whose name is not mentioned. Jack Earle is the very tall man on the Century lot, and in this comedy his job is that of a traffic cop. He is the favored suitor of the girl who is also loved by Harry McCoy. There isn't much to the action, but the gags are funny, and the finish with the girl falling into the lake and the boys afraid to rescue her is lively. A particularly amusing bit is the sequence in which the cross-eyed taxi driver figures. His name isn't mentioned either, but it should be.
The Film Daily, February 10, 1924, page 8 See the March 21, 1924 article below.
Julius Stern has selected the personnel of his recently inaugurated script-building department. Pinto, the well-known cartoonist, is the head, and associated with him are Tom O'Neil and Max Alexander of the technical department, Sig Neufeld and Bert Sternbach of the production staff, together with Edward Luddy and Ray Herman.
Moving Picture World, February 23, 1924, page 673
March 21, 1924 Medford Mail Tribune
PINTO COLVIG FILM FAILS TO ARRIVE
The Rialto management is sorry to disappoint their patrons, but the Pinto Colvig comedy film failed to arrive today on account of error in shipping. "Fighting Blood" will be shown instead and Pinto's comedy will run Friday and Saturday.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 18, 1924, page 8
Pinto Colvig, a former Medford young man, will be seen in his first comedy, called "Keep Moving," at the Rialto today and tomorrow. The following is from one of the trade journals:
"A great character in this comedy is the cross-eyed, mute taxicab driver, played by Pinto Colvig. He certainly puts 100 percent in this part. He puts on one of the funniest portrayals ever seen on the screen. Ben Turpin may get an injunction out on this. He can borrow the one Lasky used on the prodigal son. Two very funny gags are used by this driver. He charges McCoy ten dollars for a ride. McCoy holds up a five. Well, the driver sees two fives and is satisfied. Again, a double exposure shows two winding roads that the driver is on at the same time."
"Pinto Colvig in Comedy at the Rialto," Medford Mail Tribune, March 21, 1924, page B3
Pinto Colvig scored a big hit in his first comedy, "Keep Going," which had its premiere with May McAvoy in "Only 38" at the Rialto theatre yesterday. Pinto's impersonation of the world's greatest cross-eyed taxi driver was heartily enjoyed. It amply justifies all the praises bestowed upon it by the reviewers. The comedy has a lot of new tricks and stunts.
"Pinto Colvig Scores Big Hit," Medford Mail Tribune, March 22, 1924, page 3
Century People Sign Cartoonist As Head Gag Man"Pinto," known for his cartoon work for several well-known syndicates in New York and in the Northwest, has been engaged by Century Film Corporation to work on all completed scripts in the capacity of head gagman.
The appointment is not a recent one, for "Pinto" has been with Century for some weeks, but it was not until last week that Stern Brothers wired from their New York office to place "Pinto" in charge of script-building, as Century calls it. Each script will be built up carefully and painstakingly by directors, writers and gagmen.
Oakland Tribune, March 23, 1924, page 42
Al Herman is directing "Some Pal" for Century Comedies with Pal the dog as star. Fred Spencer, Ernie Shields, Earl Marsh and Ted Ross are in the cast.
The story is from a series of cartoons penned by Pinto Colvig before he entered Stern Brothers' employ.
"Harry McCoy Stars in His Third Comedy," Motion Picture News, March 29, 1924, page 1442
DOG IN TITLE ROLE
"Some Pal," with Pal the dog in the star and title role, has been placed in production by Julius Stern with Al Herman wielding the megaphone. This will be Pal's first Century Comedy since Lincoln's birthday, just passed.
An excellent supporting cast has been engaged to appear in this fun film, among whom are Fred Spencer, Ernie Shields, Earl Marsh and Tad Ross. The ingenue shall be either Bartine Burkett or Betty Young, although information concerning this has not yet been sent from the Century Hollywood studios.
The comedy is based on a series of cartoons which appeared in Northwest and Southern California papers, from the pen of Pinto Colvig. They have now been brought into screen form, and under Herman's direction it is expected that another "exceptional" comedy shall be made with Pal, the clever canine.
Exhibitors Trade Review, April 5, 1924, page 29
Judge W. M. Colvig has just returned from a month's visit to his son, "Pinto" Colvig, and family at Hollywood, Calif. He also visited in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The judge says he saw about all there was to see in Hollywood and says one of the best pictures he ever saw is "The Ten Commandments." The judge also says the weather was miserable and he sat by the fire every morning, that grass is dead, water is scarce and being afraid of foot and mouth disease came home to the land of flowers, sunshine and fine weather.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, April 14, 1924, page 2
Famous Cartoonist Has Entered Movies
"Pinto," famed for his cartoons in many newspapers of this country, has been engaged by a producer of two-reel comedy films to work on all completed pictures in the capacity of "gag man," or in plainer English, "joke writer." Noted for his brilliant humor and ready wit, "Pinto" should do a lot towards making comedies of the screen real digestion aiders.
The far-seeing company that signed this gentleman up is the Century Film Corporation, producers of "Century Comedies." It is interesting to note that this is the company with which Baby Peggy, now internationally known baby star of the screen, climbed to success.
Billings Gazette, Montana, April 20, 1924, page B5
'16--Vance DeBar "Pinto" Colvig writes that he is a cartoonist and motion picture actor in Hollywood.
"O.A.C. Alumni Active," Oregon Agricultural College Barometer, April 24, 1924, page 4
STERNS PROMOTE CHARLES LAMONT TO DIRECTORSHIP
Charles Lamont, who has been assisting Noel Smith in his directing of Century Comedies, has been assigned a complete producing unit by Julius and Abe Stern. This recognition comes to Lamont after faithful cooperation with several Century directors during the past months. Lamont came to Stern Brothers after producing several comedies for another company, but no units were free for him to direct. He assisted Herman for awhile. Later he co-directed with Smith.
His first subject for Century is temporarily known as "The Farmyard Flapper," and is Lamont's own story. Harry McCoy and Hilliard Karr will be Lamont's comedians, with Wanda Wiley appearing in the ingenue role. "Pinto" Colvig, famous cartoonist-gagman, has been turned over to Lamont, so that his first picture will be outstanding in every way. Lamont has been given a month in which to complete his first two-reel Century, and Stern Brothers anticipate an A-1 comedy.
The story deals with a farmyard Beau Brummel, his love for a city girl and the interference of the city slicker. The Century Follies Girls will be used for several sequences.
Universal Weekly, May 10, 1924, page 39 "The Farmyard Flapper" was most likely released as "Her City Sport."
"Pinto" Colvig, noted newspaper cartoonist and writer, is another new member of the Century comedy circle. A college man and the son of Judge William Colvig, noted jurist of Oregon, the former newspaper man turned to screen comedies as a greater field for expression, and he has appeared in a number of Century fun films recently, including "After a Reputation."
"Century Sticks to Two Reelers," Exhibitors Trade Review, May 23, 1925, page 39
"Hay Fever" in New York
W. Ray Johnston, President of Rayart Pictures Corporation, announces that the print of "Hay Fever Time," the fourth of the Butterfly comedy series, starring Gloria Joy, has been received in New York, and that the fifth of the series, "The Merry Widower," has just been put into production.
In addition to Miss Joy, the cast of "The Merry Widower" includes Conrad Hipp, Joe Bonner, Blanche Payson, Tiny Sandford and Pinto Colvig.
Exhibitors Trade Review, June 13, 1925, page 56
In "After a Reputation," Miss [Edna] Marian was given unusual opportunity to display her ability to draw laughs. It is a hilarious takeoff on the adventures of a hometown girl who has stage aspirations. It contains some jazzy backstage chorus scenes and also is notable by the appearance of Pinto Colvig, the man with the funny face.
"Four Comedy Two-Reelers from Century this Month," Moving Picture World, August 8, 1925, page
The titles are by Pinto Colvig and help things along materially.
"Peggy's Heroes," Exhibitors Trade Review, September 21, 1925, page 45
A McKnight-Womack production. Story by King Benedict. Titles by Pinto Colvig.
Summary--A fairy entertaining two-reeler with a number of funny gags which should cause laughs in houses where physical mishaps to the players get a mirthful response from the audience. The titles are fair, and it has been given a good production. The action moves at a fast pace.
"Peggy's Heroes," Motion Picture News, October 10, 1925, page 1716
During this period Pinto also wrote the titles for "Ringling's Rivals," viewable on YouTube.
The same principals are being used throughout the Buster Brown Comedy series. In addition to Arthur Trimble, Doreen Turner and Pete the dog, in "Oh! Buster," the cast also includes Pinto Colvig, a character comedian recently seen as the cross-eyed taxi drier with Edna Marian in "After a Reputation."
"Century Studio Starts Work on Third Buster Brown Film," Moving Picture World, October 17, 1925, page 572
The last Century release of the month, on November 25th, will be "Oh, Buster," the third of the Buster Brown comedy series, and said to be far better to the first two, which now are establishing new records for Century Comedies. "Oh, Buster" was directed by Gus Meins, a newcomer to the Century lot. He has obtained the maximum comedy out of the ability of Pete the dog-comedian, and has made Tige a very laughable and important figure in the picture. These comedies are adapted from the famous R. F. Outcault newspaper cartoons, but are played by real people. Buster is played by little Arthur Trimble, Mary Jane by Doreen Turner, and the butler by Pinto Colvig.
Pinto and the cast of "Oh, Buster," November 21, 1925 Exhibitors Trade Review, page 24
"Big Month for Universal," Exhibitors Trade Review, November 7, 1925, page 40
November 13, 1925 Film Daily
The last Century release of the month, on November 25th, will be "Oh, Buster," the third of the Buster Brown comedy series, and said to be far superior to the first two which are now establishing new records for Century Comedies. "Oh, Buster" was directed by Gus Meins, a newcomer to the Century lot. He has obtained the maximum comedy out of the ability of Pete the dog comedian, and has made Tige a very laughable and important figure in the picture. These comedies are adapted from the famous R. F. Outcault newspaper cartoons, but are played by real people. Buster is played by little Arthur Trimble, Mary Jane by Doreen Turner and the butler by Pinto Colvig.
"Two Special Comedies Listed by Century for November," The Moving Picture World, November 14, 1925, page 149
The last Century release for the month, on November 25th, will be "Oh, Buster," the third of the Buster Brown comedy series, and said to be far better than the first two which now are establishing new records for Century Comedies. "Oh, Buster," was directed by Gus Meins, a newcomer to the Century lot. He has obtained the maximum comedy out of the ability of Pete the dog-comedian, and has made Tige a very laughable and important figure in the picture. These comedies are adapted from the famous R. F. Outcault newspaper cartoons, but are played by real people. Buster is played by little Arthur Trimble, Mary Jane by Doreen Turner and the butler by Pinto Colvig.
"Exceptional Releases for November Announced by Century Comedies," Universal Weekly, November 14, 1925, page 25
"Buster's Nightmare" is the fourth of the Buster Brown series and recently had its Broadway premiere at Warner's Theatre. It was directed by Gus Meins, with Arthur Trimble as Buster, Doreen Turner as Mary Jane, Pete, the dog comedian, as Tige, and Pinto Colvig as the Brown butler.
"Century Lists Holiday Releases," Motion Picture News, December 12, 1925, page 2821
"Buster's Nightmare" was directed by Gus Meins, with Arthur Trimble as Buster, Doreen Turner as Mary Jane, Pete the dog comedian as Tige, and Pinto Colvig as the Brown butler.
"Big List of Century Comedies Scheduled for Holidays and National 'Laugh Month'," Moving Picture World, December 19, 1925, page 683
We have just initiated an animation department at the Fox West Coast Studios to handle some comedy novelties which are in preparation. It is our intention to offer four or five novelty Imperials during the season. Pinto Colvig is in charge of the technical and animation department.
"The Comedy Angle of Fox Films," Moving Picture World, January 9, 1926, page 169
Dear Mr. Colvig:
We hereby employ you as a Cartoonist, Scenario and Title Writer, for a period of three (3) months, commencing May 17, 1926, at a salary of One Hundred and Fifty ($150.00) Dollars per week, payable weekly, with the understanding that you grant us an option on your services for an additional three (3) months, commencing August 17, 1926, under the same terms and conditions.
Excerpt, contract with Mack Sennett Comedies, photocopy, SOHS vertical files Further options allowed the contract to be extended to May 17, 1928
Adventurous Career Is Lot of "Pinto" Colvig
Son of Pioneer in Hollywood Doing Movie Publicity After Varied Life at Many Different Games.
By JEUNESSE BUTLER
One day last week, a young, slender, dark-complexioned man, with cap pulled down far over his eyes, walked into the Jackson County Bank, up to a window, wrote out a check for an amount covered by six figures, and pushed it across to Vernon Vawter.
The size of the check almost took the cashier's breath away, before he looked up to see what a millionaire was like. The check was a joke, but the chap who wrote it wasn't. "Why, hello there, Pinto, when did you come into town?" asked Vernon of his old friend, Vance "Pinto" Colvig, who had arrived in Medford from Hollywood, Calif. that morning to help his dad, Judge Wm. Colvig, celebrate his 82nd birthday.
Invented GameNot so many years ago, "Pinto" was a little freckle-faced youngster going to school in Jacksonville. Wearied by the monotony of the picturesque little village, he invented a game to while away the hours that should have been (according to the school teacher) spent at his lessons.
Little Vance would open his geography to a map of the United States, shut his eyes, take a pin and stick it at random into the map. "I wish I was right here," he would say to himself, and open his eyes. Afterward, when he had left the old home town to become a wandering musician in a circus band, he would think of that old game, especially when waking up in Peru, Ind., White River Junction, Ohio, or some other place where he had been in imagination only, years ago.
Had Wanderlust"I think I had an ancestor who was a pirate on the Mediterranean, or else the narrow confines of Jacksonville just naturally caused a wanderlust. Or maybe it was only the usual schoolboy dreams, actuated by the circus bandmaster's gorgeous uniform, and the promise "join a circus and see the world--on pay."
That is how "Pinto" Colvig, circus musician, cartoonist, newspaperman, movie actor, "gag" man, scenario and title writer, once of Jacksonville, now of Hollywood, tries to explain his varied and extremely interesting experiences and present occupation.
Liked Shows"I used to take care of the dogs in 'Uncle Tom's Cabin,' when the show came to the old Jacksonville opry house," he said. "Used to supe, too, every chance I got. I had ambitions in those days, all right. I wanted to be somebody, and have some distinction besides that of belonging to the fire department or the silver cornet band."
When he was 18 years old, and going to college at Corvallis, he took his clarinet under his arm and joined a circus. This landed him eventually in Reno, and soon after on a job as a cartoonist on the Carson City News. He had been there a year or two when Al Barnes and his aggregation came to town.
"The city editor of the News heard about it," relates Colvig, "and came over to my desk and put out his hand. 'Well, goodbye Pinto, I know this is where I lose a good cartoonist.' He was right. The appeal was too strong. I heard the call of the sawdust and answered.
"A little later, Romance, with the biggest R I'd ever met, came along, and in Portland, Ore. I met again and married one of my old girls. You can't be with your wife and have a home and travel around, so I decided to settle down. I got a job as a writer and cartoonist on the Bulletin at San Francisco, where they called me the Bulletin Boob. I originated the "California Bear," syndicated a comic strip, "Life on the Radio Wave," and began writing interviews with the famous stars of the cinema."
He used to take the movie actors out to lunch, and in writing up their life histories got to know them pretty well. They began to ask, "Why don't you come down to Los Angeles with the rest of the nuts," and they said it so often that the idea began to get inside his skin.
"Hollywood," declares Colvig, "is no place for the poor, unknown man or girl. Producers and casting directors don't mean to be brutal, but they're just too busy to bother. Letters of introduction get you a hearing, but that's about all. I was mighty glad I had a check coming in from the syndicate every week during my first few months at the movie capital, I can tell you, with a wife and four sons to support.
"With my acquaintance with a number of the important members of the movie colony, and after trying for six weeks, I finally got an interview with Jack White, of the Jack White comedies.
"That was the beginning, and since that time I have written scenarios, titles, subtitles, acted some, seriously and in comedies, doped gags, devised all sorts of funny pieces of screen business, created sets for 25 weeks for Fox, and now have a two-year contract with Mack Sennett.
"They call me the man with a million faces, and often call up and say, 'Come out to location and bring face No. 256.' Mack Sennett is a wonder. Sometimes you hate him and sometimes you think he's great, but at all times he brings out the best you have in you.
"Beauty isn't enough for success in pictures. There must be a sense of artistry as well. Also photographic value, something many pretty girls lack. Good looks necessary for men? Not so much. For instance, I know 200 men that make a scrumptious living off their whiskers.
"Charles Chaplin is the artist of them all. Serious, earnest and modest, he is one of the finest chaps I ever knew. I saw Chaplin at a circus one day, watching the ancient stunts and listening to the threadbare jokes of the clowns. And say, Chaplin was their best audience there. He laughed and clapped, and had a darn good time.
"Ben Turpin is a fine little fellow, too. I never knew anyone as devoted as he was to his first wife, a cripple. He's independent, though. Walks right off the set at 4:30 in the afternoon, no matter what's happening. Won't do a bit of work after 4:30, 'cause that's in his contract.
"Movie vamps? Thought you'd get around to that before long. Someone asked my wife the other day: 'Aren't you afraid, Margaret, that some of these screen vampires will get your Pinto?' 'No, I'm not,' she said. 'When Pinto goes on the set, the vamps all chorus, 'Hello, Pinto, how are all the children this morning?' They know I'm only a married man with four children, and there ain't no use exercising their wiles on me."
Jeunesse Butler, Jackson County News, September 10, 1926, page 9
Vance "Pinto" Colvig, son of Judge W. M. Colvig, a former well-known local youth, is shown in "Fig Leaves," the film attraction at Hunt's Craterian today. He designed many of the sets in the picture, and the prehistoric animals and other features. "Pinto" is now connected with Hollywood studios as a designer.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 12, 1926, page 8 The film is viewable on YouTube. Pinto's contribution is almost certainly limited to the first twelve minutes. He apparently does not appear on camera.
COLVIG'S MOVIE OUTFIT DEPARTS FOR PROSPECT
Vance "Pinto" Colvig, former local resident, representing the E.F.R. [sic] movie company of Los Angeles, and a crew of seven, left this morning for Prospect, where they will establish camp for the taking of Crater Lake movies, also snow and timber scenes, for use in forthcoming productions. Upon the return of the party movies will be taken of scenes in this city, and also views of Jacksonville, for use in "Days of '49" pictures. In the shooting of Crater Lake, it is planned to use an airplane.MOVIE ACTORS RETURN AFTER DEATH SLIDE
"We will take about four sets of pictures here," said Colvig, "and will use some of them in productions to appear in the fall, and others will be scenically descriptive views. I want to get some pictures of Jacksonville and adjacent country, for use in mining pictures."
Mr. Colvig said that pictures of Medford and surrounding territory would be taken from the air at a later date this summer.
"Pinto" is a part owner in the film company now here, and is the son of Judge W. M. Colvig. He will direct the taking of the local pictures. "Pinto" is well known locally. He used to play the flute, cornet and bass horn in the Medford band. He is also a cartoonist, and has won considerable fame as a maker of animated film comics, cartoons and pictures.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 3, 1927, page 7
"Pinto" Colvig made a few witty remarks regarding life in Hollywood among the movie folks [at the Kiwanis meeting today].
Mr. Colvig said the company in which he is interested has just finished spending several days shooting pictures of Crater Lake and the surrounding scenery, that two of its men went by planes to shoot Crater and Diamond lakes from the air and that they would be in this vicinity for several days not securing pictures around Prospect, Table Rock and other places. He was born in Jacksonville 34 years ago, and last week was the first time he had seen Crater Lake.
"Airplanes Are Shooting Local Lakes Today," Medford Mail Tribune, June 13, 1927, page 8
E.R.L. Company Back from Crater Lake--Emlay Had Close Call--
Camera Is Saved--To Shoot More Scenes.
With his head still bandaged from the effects of a fall down a steep embankment last Tuesday evening a short distance above the Anna Spring camp in the Crater Lake National Park, Earle Emlay, director of the E.R.L. Productions company, which has been in southern Oregon for a number of weeks, was in Medford for a short time this forenoon with his entire company preparatory to taking a number of mountain scenic pictures this afternoon.
As a result of the fall of 50 or more feet down a rocky, snow-covered bank, Mr. Emlay was rendered unconscious for two hours, striking his head on a rock. Paul Power, who fell with him when a hollow snowbank collapsed, was bruised but not severely injured.
At the time of the accident, attempts were being made to film a sunset, with the camera, an expensive machine, set on a snowbank, which was believed to be solid. Without warning, the snow caved in, causing Emlay and Power, who has been playing the lead in the moving picture scenics which have been taken here, to fall and slide to the bottom of the bank, with the camera and equipment tumbling after them. Emlay was rushed to the home of Colonel C. C. Thomson at the Anna Springs camp, where first aid was rendered. The camera, while considerably damaged from the fall, was not ruined as previously reported.
While searching for pieces of equipment the next day, it was discovered that all the snow on the bank was hollow, having melted several feet above the ground, leaving it an unsafe hollow shell. The pictures not being completed, Emlay plans to return to the same spot next week or later to take several hundred feet of film, showing the beauties of a mountain sunset.
The E.R.L. company plans to spend another three weeks in Southern Oregon before returning to headquarters in Southern California, and during that time expect to film approximately 10,000 more feet of local scenery, in addition to the 10,000 feet which has already been taken. Selecting the better views, in the neighborhood of one-half of the footage will be prepared for theater exhibition in all parts of the United States as well as foreign countries. A number of thrilling "shots" are to be taken next week, but due to the fact that spectators are not wanted, the locations have not been made public.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 1, 1927, page 1
The full story of the E.R.L. company's visit to the Rogue Valley is told here.
FILM SCENES ON ROGUE TODAY
On location along the Rogue, the E.R.L. Production Company, of which "Pinto" Colvig, a local boy, is a member, shot several hundred feet of film yesterday. A group of Medford people, including representatives of the press, were the guests of the company for the day and watched the company in action.
Moods of the Rogue were caught as the camera followed the famous river down the valley, and scenes of southern Oregon beauty were cataloged in filmdom before the eyes of an approving Medford audience.
The company expects to remain near Medford during the greater part of the summer.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 5, 1927, page 8 Several publicity photos of the filming are preserved in the archives of the Southern Oregon Historical Society.
Dear Mr. Colvig:
We hereby employ you as a Cartoonist, Illustrator, Scenario Writer, Gagman, Animator and Designer, for a period of three (3) months, commencing July 18, 1927, at a salary of One Hundred Twenty-Five Dollars ($125.00) per week, payable weekly, with the understanding that you grant us the following future options on your services.
Excerpt, contract with Mack Sennett Comedies, photocopy, SOHS vertical files Further options extended to July 18, 1928
'Pinto' Colvig Wracks Brain for Way To Draw
Limburger Smell on Celluloid
"Back again in the tropical south with only dim memories of The Snow That Was. Will say that I enjoyed my visit with the home folks, scenery, etc.," writes Pinto Colvig from Mack Sennett's studios, Edendale, Cal.
He continues, "Mack Sennett's buzzed my phone for two weeks, and the day after I got here he signed me on a year's contract, same work as last year, trick-cartoon gags and titles. The first crack they handed me was working on the big half-million-dollar war romance comedy, featuring Johnny Burke and the Sennett beauties. [Probably "The Good-Bye Kiss."]
"I have had all kinds of goofy and unusual ideas for me to create along the trick-cartoon process, but when Sennett asked me yesterday if I could draw the smell of Limburger cheese and show it on the screen, it made me think twice. However, I'm doing it."
He explains, "The gag shows where a piece of the cheese falls in the bellows of a small organ the comedian is playing, and upon that scene and film I've got to show the smell coming out. I hope they don't expect me to actually make it smell, although the gaff might be so terrible it might do that anyhow."
Medford people will recall that Mr. Colvig was the first to bring the E.R.L. Productions company to Medford and interest them in this section.
Medford Daily News, July 29, 1927, page 1
MACK SENNETT COMEDIES
MACK SENNETT, INC.
1712 GLENDALE BOULEVARD
August 4, 1927Mrs. Col. Sargent
My Dear Mrs. Sargent:
I am very sorry to have kept your interesting Indian story this length of time, but shortly after receiving it I left immediately for Hollywood, and upon arriving here I found my many family duties and business ideas in such a turmoil that it has taken almost every hour of my time to get back to normalcy.
I read your script coming down on the train and found it very interesting--especially to me, who so loves the stories on true happenings of the Oregon early days. In you article I learned many highlights of that history and I appreciated greatly you thinking of me and allowing me the opportunity to read it.
The little troupe I encouraged coming to Rogue River Valley for the purpose of filming scenics I believe have finished their mission there and have returned south. However, I understand that Mr. Emlay remained in Medford and is trying to interest Southern Oregon people in some big Indian and Crater Lake picture to the extent of a half-million or so. While I don't like to hinder anyone's ideas in any way, at the same time, I feel it my duty to protect my own name and my many Medford friends in stating that I have never at any time been associated with his idea, and I hope that you home folks who might become interested with it will think twice and look into the matter thoroughly before investing any money. I do not mean that anyone connected with the idea have intentions of doing anything dishonest, but from my vast experience in the motion picture industry I have seen failure happen to so many propositions of that nature, and any proposition like that is one of the greatest gambles I know. The idea Mr. Emlay has in mind will take a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer institution and a Cecil B. DeMille to direct--and even then it is a gamble. Please don't think me to be a cad, writing you this sort of advice that might enhance [sic] anyone else's ideas. I have already written Mr. Emlay explaining fully that I don't think it quite right of his trying to promote my lifelong friends to whom I have introduced him. We came up there to spend our own money and return and I greatly appreciate the kindly cooperation you grand Southern Oregon people showed us--and in no way (should anything unforeseen happen in the loss of any finance created by you people in any motion picture ideas) would I want any reflection upon my name.
I would advise, Mrs. Sargent, that your story, properly constructed, photographed and directed by able people, would no doubt be a very uplifting and entertaining photoplay, especially for historical reasons, that could be shown in schools, churches, et cetera. Photoplays of that nature I always see to it that my children have opportunity to witness, as they mean more than all the history books written. However, I might add that such a production would run into quite an amount of money to be done right.
I am returning your manuscript herewith, and should at any time I can be of service to you, or advise you in any matters of this nature, please don't hesitate in writing.
Again, I thank you for your interest.
Most sincerely yours,Alice Applegate Sargent Collection, Southern Oregon Historical Society Research Library, M21C Box 1
1138 Poinsettia Place
Signs Colvig Scenarist"Pinto" Colvig, formerly with Mack Sennett, has been added to the Darmour-FBO Scenario Staff.
The Film Daily, January 29, 1928, page 11
PINTO COLVIG BUSY ON SHORT SUBJECTS
Pinto Colvig, of the Darmour-F.B.O. Comedies, is not only busy as a scenarist in the short subject field of this organization, but is exhibiting notable cleverness in what he calls the Pinto process of animation. These are trick shots which set many fans to wondering how they are produced. Here is another example of his versatility. In "Restless Bachelors," the recent Al Cooke picture for Darmour Productions, Colvig not only played a prominent role, but collaborated on the story and titles and did all the cartoon work in the picture.
Unidentified clipping, Pinto Colvig papers, SOHS MS9,F26
Pinto Colvig of the Larry Darmour forces is now known as a "cinematoonist." Pinto has had a varied career, his experiences including a year as a musician with a circus. Pinto enjoys telling the story concerning a young circus musician, who believed musicians had to wash circus tents.
Ralph Wilk, "A Little from 'Lots'," The Film Daily, May 13, 1928, page 9
Pinto Colvig Puts His Creations on Movietone Pictures
"Pinto" Colvig, former cartoonist and comedy writer, has created "Bolivar," the talking ostrich, which will be shown as a series of short subjects on the screen, says Hollywood Filmograph, the publication devoted to motion pictures, vaudeville and theatrical productions. The productions will be made with sound and talking sequences, with Walter [Lantz.] Lantz, originator of "Colonel Heeza Liar" and "Dinky Doodle" cartoons, and former supervisor for Bray animated cartoons, is associated with the firm, known as Bolivar Productions.
Charles Diltz, well-known comedy director, will direct the series. Diltz has a reputation for producing surefire comedies and, with the combined experience of these three pioneers in their line, the theater-going public will be given many laughs via seeing Bolivar and "Pinto" perform on the screen.
"Pinto" as Vance DeBar Colvig, son of Judge Colvig of this city and a former Medford High School student, is well known here, where he often visits his father and other relatives.
Medford News, December 28, 1928, page 2
PROGRAM OF SHORTS BY R-K-O ALL TO BE IN SOUNDRKO's short product program for 1929-30 comprises two series of Larry Darmour comedies from Standard Cinema Corp. one called "The Record Breaker Series" from H. C. Witwer stories; and another the "Mickey McGuire" comedies based on the cartoons of Fontaine Fox; and Walter Futter's "Curiosities," presented by the Amedee Van Beuren Corp. All will be in sound.
"The Record Breaker Series" will have a theatrical background similar to that in "The Racing Blood Series," a 1928-29 release, while the plots will be concerned with airplane stunts, auto races, motorcycle races and motor boat contests. "The Mickey McGuire Series" will be two reelers with Mickey McGuire, as well as the Scorpions Club, Tomboy Taylor, Hambone Johnson, Stinky Davis and his gang .
Script writers and gagmen include: E. V. Durling, Ben White, H. A. Woodmansee, Joseph Basil, Pinto Colvig, C. M. Kerr. The directors will be Albert Herman, Ralph Ceder, Slim Summerville, St. Elmo Boyce.
"Curiosities," hitherto silent, will have sound for the '29-30 program. Monologue spoken from the sidelines and prepared by humorists on the subjects presented will be one of the dialogue features. The latest sound "Curiosities" release is "Follies of Fashion" and deals with fashions worn 25 years ago and the styles of today. "The Mysteries of Pearl Growing" and "The Spooks of Winchester House" are two recently completed pictures of this series.
The Film Daily, March 31, 1929, page 26
TWO SERIES OF "MUSICAL TABS" FROM DARMOURTwo series of "musical tabs" are planned by Larry Darmour in the 26 talking and singing shorts he will make for RKO release next season. They are to be "The Record Breakers" by H. C. Witwer and the Mickey (Himself) McGuire series, based on the cartoons by Fontaine Fox.
Alberta Vaughn has been signed to a starring contract for "The Record Breakers," with Al Cooke playing the male lead, supported by Lew Sargent and George Gray.
Script writers and gagmen for Larry Darmour productions are E. V. Durling, Ben White, H. A. Woodmansee, Joseph Basil, Pinto Colvig and C. M. Kerr, while directors include Albert Herman, Ralph Ceder, Slim Summerville and St Elmo Boyce.
Release dates on these two series are as follows: Witwer, "Record Breaker Musical Tabs" series; one every two weeks beginning about August 18th, "Mickey (himself) McGuire Musical Tabs" one every month beginning about September 8th.
The Film Daily, July 2, 1929, page 4
Gene Byrnes, erstwhile "one of us" and famous for his comic strip "Regular Fellers," and whose headquarters was recently Carmel, has lost his right-hand man. B. "Tack" Knight has left him to open a New York studio of his own and soon we will be chuckling over Tack's funny pictures with his very own signature tacked on them.
Mr. and Mrs. Knight and their clever little daughter used to live in Carmel. When "Tack" followed Gene to New York, Mrs. Knight remained here where little Mary Jacqueline, or Mary "Jack" as she was known among her playmates, attended the Forest Hill School. Two years ago the family moved to La Jolla, where they now live, Tack having just returned to New York where he will work for the new combine, "Tack Knight Inc.," from now on.
The Misses Stout, who last week returned from La Jolla, saw the Knights there and reports that they are all three homesick for Carmel and that they look forward to someday once again calling Carmel "home."
"Reg'ler Fellers" has felt the pen of Knight for some years and Byrne has deemed his assistant well nigh invaluable as a cartoonist and close friend, but it has long been the secret plan of Tack's to present that pet cartoon strip of his own to the world. Knight was one of the first of the "animated cartoon" artists, and with the well-known Hollywood and San Francisco cartoonist and comedy gag man, Vance de Bar Colvig, he began his career in San Francisco fifteen years or more ago.
"People Talked About," Carmel Pine Cone, November 15, 1929, page 9
JUDGE COLVIG HOME FROM HOLLYWOOD
Judge W. M. Colvig, who has been visiting in Hollywood for the past month, returned to Medford last night, bringing with him his grandson, Byington Colvig, who will remain in this city until next fall.
Byington is the eight-year-old son of "Pinto" Colvig, who is now under contract with Universal Pictures, doing fake and trick photography and writing titles. The latter is well known in Medford, where he made his home for many years.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 15, 1930, page 8
5127 Denny Street, San Francisco
Florence Cumberland, 37, widow
Virginia F. Cumberland, 15
Vidonia C. Cumberland, 13
Vance D. Colvig, 12, born in California, parents born in Oregon
William M. Colvig, 10, born in California, parents born in Oregon
U.S. Census, enumerated April 9, 1930
519 South Oakdale, Medford, Oregon
William Warner, 46, postmaster
Mary C. Warner, 43
Gordon C. Warner, 17
Winifred B. Warner, 16
Margaret W. Warner, 14
William M. Colvig, 85, father
Byington F. Colvig, 8, nephew
U.S. Census, enumerated April 14, 1930
Colvig Completes Pen-and-Ink Talkie
"Pinto" Colvig, film cartoonist, sometime staff artist on a San Francisco newspaper, has completed another pen-and-ink talkie, "The Detective." Here Oswald, the lucky rabbit, having been accused of the murder of Cock Robin, becomes involved in one of the most exciting courtroom scenes ever to grace the screen.
In his newspaper days in San Francisco Colvig's chum was none other than Willard Huntington Wright, who has taken to detective fiction himself in the interim, with distinguished success under the name of Philo Vance.
San Francisco Chronicle, November 23, 1930, page 39
Screen's Comic Rabbit to Give Radio 'Concert'
Oswald, the Rabbit, Universals cartoon comic, is to entertain youthful radio listeners-in Christmas Eve by presenting a musical program over the Columbia broadcasting chain. Walter Lantz, Bill Nolan, Pinto Colvig and others who add their wit and artistry to little Oswald's screen ramblings will assist in this novel presentation.
Oswald's most recent cartoon travels have carried him from Arizona to Alaska--a long trip even for a pen and ink rabbit.
San Diego Union, December 21, 1930, page 47
When he hired Ted Sears in 1930--the old Fleischer animator who, one colleague said, wore a high collar, plastered his hair on his head, spoke out of the side of his mouth, and looked like a "defrocked priest"--Walt had appointed him head of a new story department, something unheard of at any other animation studio. It consisted of Bill Cottrell, the ink-and-paint-man-turned-camera-operator-turned-animator, Webb Smith, a former newspaperman, and Pinto Colvig, who would later become the voice of the character Goofy. These men were initially charged with helping devise better gags without the responsibility of having to animate them. Walt would toss them a situation--say, Mickey's pet dog Pluto getting stuck on flypaper--and then let them develop it. "I came back in two days," Walt recalled of having given Webb Smith that instruction, "and there was a whole wall full of things that would happen to that dog if he got mixed up with flypaper, see? So then the process would be of sitting down with that, taking some of those ideas, copying them if we could, putting them into some kind of routine and continuity." [page 171]
Neal Gabler, Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination, Knopf, 2006
JUST A PETER PANAbout this time every year the Colvig family out North Hollywood way begins to worry considerably regarding one of its members. It seems Pinto Colvig is in the habit of running away with the circus every once in a while. As Pinto is 37 years old and the father of four children, his absence on these escapades is keenly felt. The children are keeping close watch on him this year.
Pinto, who is a successful cartoonist, originally played a cornet in the Al G. Barnes circus band. For his amusement he drew caricatures of members of the troupe. Much to his dismay he was offered a huge salary to draw cartoons for money. Had it not been for his wife and family he probably would have turned the offer down. His success has continued, but he’s still a cornet player at heart. He has run away with the circus three times in the last five years and usually stays with the outfit about six weeks, when his conscience begins to bother him and he sneaks back home.
"Town Talk," Los Angeles Evening Express, May 16, 1931, page 10 There seems to be considerable hyperbole here in the the last line.
Former Bandman Working in Mickey Mouse Studio
By KATHERINE McINTYRE
Captain Harry L. Beard, conductor of the Oregon State R.O.T.C. band, has many stories to tell of bandmen who have come and gone, but his tale about Vance Colvig is perhaps one of the most interesting.
"Pinto," as Colvig was called, attended Oregon State College in 1912 and 1913. He played with Captain Beard on the E flat and B flat clarinets all the time he was here.
However, this talented fellow's long suit was cartoon drawing--his specialty being a character we now know as Mickey Mouse. Maybe you can't understand at first what his drawing had to do with the band, but on the 1913 band trip, Colvig furnished entertainment at different times by drawing interesting characters on a blackboard which had been placed in front of the audience.
A short time after 'Pinto" left college, he obtained work with the studio which was producing the Oswald series. Now he is with the Mickey Mouse producers. So many pictures are required to make a movement in that sort of a production that a great many artists are needed--men who have the talent for drawing "Mickey," "Minnie" and their dog.
Every year, Colvig sends out Christmas cards to his friends that are most interesting and such as only "Pinto" could draw. They contain cheery messages from his whole family and are much prized by the recipients.
Oregon State College Barometer, February 10, 1933, page 1
HOLLYWOOD, Nov. 14.--"Believe it or not, Bob, my 'Three Little Pigs' have ended the Depression," Walt Disney confided to me yesterday. . . . "The biggest hit of any cartoon comedy ever made . . . if the fact that the picture has cleaned a cool million means anything . . . and it's good for a half million more."
Disney submitted the idea to his staff three times before they fell for it. . . . It went through the inking department in ten days . . . a record in animating when you consider it runs around 750 feet and takes eight minutes to screen. . . . A trio . . . the Rhythmettes . . . did the three little pigs . . . and a member of Disney's staff was "the big bad wolf."
Pinto Colvig . . . former newspaper man and a member of Disney's staff . . . suggested the bad wolf line . . . and Frank Churchill wrote the music . . . the "tra la la la la" last line was given to the flute and violin when the author couldn't make a line fit. . . . And only four characters appear in it.
Publishers Syndicate, San Antonio Express, November 14, 1933, page 7
Stars in Films
Vance DeBar Colvig, of Hollywood, Calif., a cousin of Mrs. L. G. Patty, is the "pig" that plays the fife in the musical numbers in "Three Little Pigs," which is at the Earle Theater today and tomorrow. Mr. Colvig, who also plays the part of Noah in "Noah's Ark," which Don J. Smith has booked to play at Carroll soon, is the creator of "Lucky Rabbit." His pen name is "Pinto."Sound Artist
Carroll Daily Herald, Iowa, November 27, 1933, page 1
December 19, 1933 Oakland Tribune
COLVIG PICTURED IN LITTLE PIG FEATURE
An interesting photograph in the Los Angeles newspaper reveals the voices of "The Three Little Pigs," popular Walt Disney film. They are Pinto Colvig, formerly of this city, who sang the tunes of the industrious third pig; Dorothy Compton, impersonator of the pig who built his house of twigs, and Mary Noder, who played the part of the first little pig, who built his house of straw.
Colvig also talks the role of Pluto, the pup, in the Mickey Mouse comedies.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 31, 1933, page 7
January 10, 1934 Baton Rouge State Times Advocate
WALT DISNEY PRODUCTIONS Ltd.
March 5 1934
Mrs Ford Cline
1214 Seventh St
Huntington W Va
Dear Mrs Cline:
Your letter received. According to my grand old Dad (Judge Wm. M. Colvig of Medford Oregon), ALL Colvigs are related. My father, who is nearly 90 years old, but still of good health and intellect, will be very glad to get your letter, which I am forwarding to him today. Up thru the years he has compiled quite a complete "family tree" of "from whence we came," dating 'way back to France when one of our forefather's sailed to this country with Jerome Bonaparte. They remained in this country, fought in the Revolutionary War, and it was he who changed the original name of Colvigne (Col-vin-yay) to Colvig. I understand the "Col" meant WITH and the "vigne" meant WINE, in an old south-of-France language, now extinct. So, therefore, it means: "with wine."
I will not go on here with the Colvig lineage, because I know Dad will send you the "whole works."
My real name is Vance De Bar Colvig, but professionally I am known as "Pinto," a nickname I picked up when I was a kid, owing to the many big freckles which adorned my face - resembling a spotted pinto pony. I have had quite a wild and checkered career during my 41 years on earth. Born in Jacksonville Oregon - almost finished high school - 3 years in Oregon State College - 3 summers playing in a circus band - a season in vaudeville - primarily I am a newspaper cartoonist and comic writer, having worked mostly on San Francisco papers. Have been in "the movies" for 12 years, as a comedian & scenario writer. 2½ years here with Mickey Mouse as scenario writer . . and barking for Pluto, Mickey’s pup - singing for the 3rd Pig and several other characters you see in the Mickey Mouse’s and Silly Symphonies. Lately I have been singing over the radio (Columbia Broadcasting System) particularly, KHJ Station here in Los Angeles.
I, too, am married (18 years) and we have 5 boys - ranging from 3 to 16 years.
Good luck to you and yours,
WALT DISNEY PRODUCTIONS Ltd.
June 8 1934Eddie Woeckoner
CONGRATULATIONS!--to you and YOURS! Just saw your pitchur in the Billboard.
Guess you got my letter and the follow-up telegram I sent you? On that day, I went to the bat about "things in general" and everything worked out nicely and the whole matter was well explained and straightened out satisfactorily--with ME getting a nice fat royalty check for writing the lyrics for "The Big Bad Wolf" and with additional royalties coming up soon for "The Grasshopper and the Ants" (O, Th' World Owes Me a Livin'!)--So, naturally I didn't want to see anything in print about it, after it had been so well taken care of.
Things are about the same out here with us. Wonderfully cool weather--nights COLD--plenty of California sunshine and Peoria whiskey. My oldest kid is now past 16 and the little guy will be 3 tomorrow. Just bought Margaret a new car and she and Mason and the baby will drive up to Oregon for the summer--leaving Mason off at Medford to stay with my dad (now 90 years old and still going strong).--I'm putting 2 other kids out for the summer in a boys' camp up at Big Bear Lake and the oldest kid I'm putting on a big cattle ranch. I'm just stayin' home and feeding the dog. When I get my vacation I'm going up to Frisco and play a couple of weeks vaudeville at the Orpheum and Golden Gate. It will be different, anyway, and get me away from the South for a while--and I can sleep till noon. If you were further west I'd join out and spend my 2 weeks with you--pay you 50 bucks a week for the privilege of squeekin' "Barnum & Bailey's Favorite" and "Mlle. Modiste" and "Washington Grays" and a few others.
Trusting that this finds you feelin' good--and with hopes of someday meeting you and the new MISSUS,
Cordially, your old pal,Remember me to
[signed] "Pinto " Colvig
"Cookhouse" George Davis--
also your brother Joe!
The air premiere of a new Walt Disney melody, "The Farmer in the Dell," which was written specially for Pinto Colvig, the Disney sound effect man, will be featured on the "Treasures of Time" program tonight. (KFRC, 8-8:30 p.m.)
Pinto himself will sing the number while Raymond Paige's orchestra furnishes the accompaniment.
"New Disney Tune to Be Heard Tonight," San Francisco Chronicle, August 8, 1934, page 10
"California Melodies," directed by Raymond Paige and originating in the CBS Studios at Los Angeles, will have a most unusual feature tonight at 8 . . . a musical and dramatic portrait of the late John Philip Sousa, the great composer of band music and a musician of no mean ability . . . and another highlight of this thirty minutes will be "The Bingville Band," a new composition, presented by Pinto Colvig . . . who, if you have forgotten, is a sound effects man for Walt Disney's animated cartoons. . . .
"Radio Flashes," Harrisburg Telegraph, Pennsylvania, August 10, 1934, page 13
With son Courtney, August 26, 1934 Oregonian
"BIG BAD WOLF" ON VISIT HERE: NATIVE OF OREGON"There's just one thing we're selling here,"[Disney] told Ken Anderson, when the young animator joined the studio, "and that's the name 'Walt Disney.' If you can buy that and be happy to work for it, you're my man. But if you've got any ideas of selling the name 'Ken Anderson,' it's best for you to leave right now." It was expected for Disney employees to share credit. When Pinto Colvig was introduced as the lyricist of "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" at a dinner honoring Walt, he immediately stood up and credited others. "Well he knew," Colvig wrote a colleague, speaking of himself, "that such a breach in the code of 'Disney Ethics' would forever be a nasty stain upon his otherwise faultless character." [page 206]
"Pinto" Colvig, Versatile Member of Disney Organization,
Says Popularity of Song Still Mystery.
BY FRED M. WHITE
Drama Editor, The Oregonian.
The Big Bad Wolf is the brother of Mrs. Floyd J. Cook of Portland, and a new popular song to the contrary notwithstanding, he is not dead. His off-screen name is "Pinto" Colvig, and he was a Portland visitor yesterday at the home of his sister, Mrs. Cook. When a cameraman and reporter from The Oregonian arrived at the Cook home in the afternoon, Mr. Colvig, surrounded by 40 or 50 neighborhood children and a few of their parents and grandparents for good measure, was staging an impromptu entertainment.A staged Disney gag session, November 28, 1934--National Geographic, August 1963
It really is unfair to Mr. Colvig to refer to him as the Big Bad Wolf, because the B.B.W. is a villainous character who richly deserves the unpopped popcorn and other punishments meted out to him on the screen. Mr. Colvig, on the other hand, is as merry as Old King Cole and likes to spend his vacation making little children laugh--an endeavor at which he is a big success.
Moreover, in the picture "Three Little Pigs," in which he played the Big Bad Wolf, he also was the industrious, bricklaying pig, and he played both parts again in "The Big Bad Wolf." He also was the grasshopper in "The Grasshopper and the Ants," and he often barks for Pluto the dog in the Mickey Mouse films, and takes other parts as occasion may require. While not performing for the recording microphone, Mr. Colvig revealed, his regular job is in the scenario and gag department, where, with the 200 other members of the Walt Disney organization in Hollywood, he devotes himself to the serious business of thinking up funny material.
The Grasshopper and the Ants, 1934
"The popularity of that 'Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf?' song is still a mystery to Walt Disney and all his organization," Mr. Colvig admitted. "At first, the idea was to have the three little pigs dancing around singing: 'Who's afraid of the woo-oolf?' For no reason at all, I said: 'Who's afraid of the big, bad wolf?' It sounded silly. It is silly. But Frank Churchill said: 'That's it,' and in about five minutes he worked out the tune with one finger on the piano.
"We were going to have an off-screen voice telling about each of the little pigs at the start, then it seemed that it would be better to have each pig tell about himself. I wrote the original lyrics for the song, but we couldn't agree on a last line for the chorus, so we didn't have any words for that line, and finished the song with the piccolo. A lot of theories have been offered about why the song was a hit, but I don't believe anybody knows."
Mr. Colvig is a native of Jacksonville, Or., and the son of Judge William Colvig of Medford and southern Oregon generally. One of the reasons the off-screen comedian is visiting Oregon is to attend his father's 90th birthday next week in Medford.
"They have a lot of real writers and artists at the Disney studio," said the comedian, Colvig, "but when they want something corn-fed they call on the old apple-knocker from Jackson County. The grasshopper was supposed to sound like a simple country boy, so they gave his part to me."
Mr. Colvig started his professional career by leaving Oregon State College to join a circus. Some years in comic opera and vaudeville followed. The future Big Bad Wolf went to Hollywood 13 years ago and joined Walt Disney's organization three years go.
"It's a great place to work," he said. "We have a lot of fun."
Sunday Oregonian, Portland, August 26, 1934, page 7
'PINTO' COLVIG TO PAY CITY VISIT
Vance (Pinto) Colvig, a Medford boy who made good in Hollywood, will conduct a broadcast over KGW this morning at 9:30 o'clock. "Pinto," billed as the "Rogue River Apple Knocker with the Yellow Clarinet," will arrive here Tuesday to be present at the 90th birthday celebration this week of his father, Judge William M. Colvig, beloved southern Oregon pioneer, next week.
"Pinto," an artist with Walt Disney, who provided pictures and voice for the "Three Little Pigs," went to school in this city and Jacksonville, as a boy, with Wilson Wait and Virgil Strang, and is well known among the older residents.
He now lives in the movie colony, and this is his first visit in many years.
Medford Mail Tribune, August 26, 1934, page 12
Pinto Colvig on Craterian Stage Next Thursday
A home town boy who has made good in a big way comes to Medford next Thursday to appear on the stage of the Craterian Theater with the Cagney-O'Brien picture "Here Comes the Navy" on the screen.
Pinto Colvig, who for the last few years has been with the Walt Disney studio in Hollywood, is returning to the scenes of his boyhood, where--as he says--"he first learned to spit like a grasshopper." It was Colvig whose voice is heard in the recent Disney Silly Symphony "The Grasshopper and the Ants," singing "The World Owes Me a Living."
Lately, Colvig has been broadcasting over national networks with Raymond Paige and his orchestra, telling how sound effects are worked into the cartoons and illustrating with the airplane effects on a slide trombone, cow moos on a clarinet, bark like Pluto (Mickey Mouse's canine pal), motorboat effects on a derby hat, and many others. He has just had a renewal on his contract with Walt Disney and is taking a short vacation to Medford to help celebrate Judge Colvig's 90th birthday, and while here will be on the stage of the Craterian Theater with an act composed of the various knickknacks and doodads that he does at the studios and over the radio.
This (Sunday) morning at 9:30 Colvig will broadcast over the Oregonian station KGW, Portland.
Medford Mail Tribune, August 26, 1934, page 7
August 30, 1934 Medford Mail Tribune
Pinto Colvig Provides Intimate Sidelights on Life of Mickey Mouse
By Irva Fewell
Tossing his gray coat from one arm to the other at uncalculated intervals and chewing gum with an inexhaustible degree of energy, never failing to smile all the while, Pinto Colvig, artist from the Walt Disney studios in Hollywood, today gave a few sidelights on Mickey Mouse, and the colored symphonies that have been amusing the world the past few years. He is here for the 90th birthday of his father, Judge Wm. M. Colvig, which is to be observed Sunday.
"It wasn't the words and the original lyrics I wrote for the 'Grasshopper and the Ants' that I was particularly proud of, but it was the high, wide and fancy spittin'." Pinto portrayed the voice of the grasshopper in the symphony, and said that his voice was recorded in four different ways before the final selection was made.
"We had to be particular about the voice," said the dashing artist. "It would spoil the grasshopper's personality if we used the wrong one. We decided the grasshopper was just a country boy who had been misinformed. He didn't figure out the world owed him a living, but just took it for granted.
"And for that reason, they selected a boy born in Jacksonville, Ore., and reared in Medford, to take the part of the grasshopper."
Another "voice" of which Pinto is particularly proud is Pluto the dog in the Mickey Mouse pictures. This is how it happened Pinto was chosen for that job:
It seems that many years ago, when a road company was presenting "Uncle Tom's Cabin" at Jacksonville, Pinto was hanging about the place. The bloodhounds, so the story goes, licked all the paint off the "prop" ice and died of poisoning. So Pinto barked for the bloodhounds.
Pinto's career has been a trifle varied since he had his first cartoon printed in the Mail Tribune about 20 years ago, and he admitted today the only thing he had not taken up was dressmaking. He spent some time with the circus, was known as "The Bulletin Boob" on the San Francisco Bulletin when employed there, and while with the San Francisco Chronicle originated the first radio comic, "Life on the Radio Wave," in 1922, which was syndicated and carried all over the United States. He was also with the Mack Sennett studios as a writer before going to the Walt Disney studios.
Now Pinto is not a gag man, but "a student of gagology," and is a member of the big happy family that puts little Mickey Mouse on the screen.
Walt Disney is just a big boy, clowning around, who will never grow up, according to Colvig. He neither knows nor cares how much money he makes producing his Mickey Mouse and symphony cartoons, as he leaves all that to his brother, Roy, the business manager. Disney is the voice of Mickey and is pleasing to work with. Pinto describes him as "a young fellow, about 32 or 33, who takes humor seriously."
Around the Disney studios, there is no hard feeling, nor ever bragging about accomplishments, and the employees all work together, with Disney trying to keep his 200 artists and musicians happy.
"We don't think of Mickey as a mouse who eats cheese, but a little boy, who is so pleasing anyone would like to have him around," Pinto explained. "We have plenty of ideas for pictures, but the hardest part is the 'feeling of distinction' as [to] what ideas to use. We weigh each, and carefully guard the character of Mickey. He can't be a sissy nor a smart aleck, so every move must be considered.
"Mickey Mouse will go into colors next season, with the Disney studio putting out ten Mickey Mouse and ten symphonies. The studio is now considering producing feature cartoons, the first to be 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs'," Colvig said.
In the new Encyclopaedia Britannica, which is to be published next year, Pinto Colvig's name appears as the originator of the first color comics, which were known as "Pinto's Prizma Comedy Revues."
Pinto is to appear on the stage at the Craterian Theater Thursday, Friday and Saturday of this week, to answer questions about Mickey and the Disney studios.
Accompanying him to Medford from Portland were Mrs. Colvig, whom he terms "A Portland Rose," their sons Vance and Courtney--the oldest and youngest of their five boys. The other three are Mason, Byington and Bourke.
"The way we selected their names--and if anyone wants to know how to choose a name for his child--just pick the name from a Pullman car. That's the way we did."
Medford Mail Tribune, August 29, 1934, page 2
Mickey Mouse Has Speech of Former Oregon State Man
Mickey Mouse, leading screen personality, owes some of his popularity to Oregon State College. Pinto Colvig, Mickey's vocalizer, was once a prominent student on the OSC campus.
It is said that he was almost as popular as Mickey himself, for wherever Colvig went, a crowd of old and young followed him. He played E flat clarinet in the band, and took an active interest in his college life.
His ability to lead an interesting conversation and his remarkable talent for cartooning led him to many interesting adventures. When college days were over, Colvig joined a circus and took to the open road.
Later on a contract from a Hollywood studio presented itself, and he became a vital part of the "Oswald the Rabbit" staff. However, Mickey Mouse took lead over Oswald, and Colvig joined the Walt Disney studios. Today he is the voice that is heard whenever Mickey appears on the screen.
Oregon State College Barometer, October 9, 1934, page 2 Like the 1933 OSC article, above, the details of Pinto's career are very unreliable.
"That picture you are looking at on the wall is a picture of Vance Colvig, son of William Colvig of Medford, better known as 'Pinto.' All of those clever drawings of animals near his picture are cartoons of his. He draws the cartoons in the Mickey Mouse studio and is also the voice and interpreter of many of the animals in the Mickey Mouse pictures. In the Mickey Mouse barnyard symphony he is the voice of Pluto the Pup. He gives the grasshopper solo and also the frog solo. He was one of the outstanding members of the State College band and toured with our band in 1913."
Captain Harry L. Beard, quoted by Fred Lockley, "Impressions and Observations of the Journal Man," Oregon Journal, Portland, June 22, 1935, page 4
Voice of Playful Pluto Sends Letters to Beard
In Captain H. L. Beard's office in the old gymnasium, where he stays when not directing the band or teaching mathematics, there is a unique collection of letters posted on the wall. The one who sends these letters to Captain Beard is known to us all only as the voice of Mickey's dog Pluto, but in private life he goes under the name of Vance Colvig.
The letters are unique not only because they come from 2719 Hyperion, Hollywood, Calif., the home of Mickey Mouse, but because they are illustrated with the characters one sees in a Silly Symphony, or a Mickey Mouse feature.
Three Little Pigs, Clarabelle Cow, Horace Horsecollar, the Big Bad Wolf and Mickey and Minnie Mouse smile and wave greetings from Christmas cards, birth announcements and letters.
On one letter one sees Mickey and his musicians as they looked when in the Silly Symphony entitled "The Town Band." While playing Mickey's own arrangement of the William Tell Overture, a cyclone comes to town and takes them all for a ride and they never miss a note.
Colvig attended Oregon State College in 1912-13, and played clarinet in the cadet band. When the band went on tour, as it used to do in those days, he entertained the audience with cartoons and a chalk talk during the intermissions.
In college he was known only as Pinto, and everywhere that Pinto went he was followed by his dog, who always was attired in a collar and tie. After leaving college Pinto played in a circus band, then went to San Francisco and was employed by the San Francisco Bulletin, for whom he put out a comic strip.
When the idea of the animated cartoon became popular Pinto was a cartoonist for "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit" films. About five years ago he went to the Disney films, where he has been employed ever since.
Captain Beard says that Pinto told him that a man does not have to be crazy to work on animated cartoons, but that it helps.
Oregon State College Barometer, November 23, 1935, page 1
PINTO COLVIG HAS BEST IMITATIONS IN ALL HOLLYWOOD
Former Medford Man Takes Vocal Part in Disney Pictures--
Barrymore and Beery Do Own Belching
By Leicester Wagner
United Press Hollywood Correspondent
HOLLYWOOD, Sept. 13.--(UP)--Pinto Colvig is Hollywood's least known but best imitator.
He's the voice of Pluto the Pup and other characters in "Mickey Mouse." He's the head man in a group of 25 persons who go through life making strange sounds.
It's almost a closed corporation. No others can gain admission for the purpose of hiccoughing, belching, imitating birds, crying babies, screaming, grunting like a pig, neighing like a horse or mooing like a cow.
Some Can't BelchLionel Barrymore and Wallace Beery provide their own belches. But most of the others need assistance.
When off-scene hiccoughing was needed on the set of "The Milky Way," Harold Lloyd's latest picture, Ruby Ray was secured. Miss Ray sang last year with the Chicago Grand Opera Company.
She also is Hollywood's outstanding bird imitator and artistic whistler. Ruby supplied the sound of the brain fever bird in "Four Frightened People."
Tommy Car, radio performer, was brought into action when a stutterer was needed in "It's a Great Life." Roscoe Ates commands too much money.
Duke York, the belching expert, gets up steam by drinking quantities of warm soda pop.
Delmar Imitates BabiesEddie Delmar is said to be Hollywood's best baby crier. They'd use a real baby if the state welfare department would permit. Claire Vincent is the leading screamer. She spaces out her screaming duties by acting as stand-in for Frances Langford.
Florence Gill is adept at chicken imitations. She did her act in "Every Night at Eight."
Inasmuch as Pinto Colvig works solely for Walt Disney, Melvin Gibby gets the call when more guttural barnyard sounds are needed. Dorothy Lloyd does high-pitched animals, and Dorothy William is a leading frog imitator.
C. L. Sherwood is good at birds flying, and in the early days of talking pictures rolled out a swell imitation of a train.
I still think someone doubles for Bing Crosby's peculiar voice.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 13, 1935, page 4
An undated photo of Pinto recording at Walt Disney studios.
EX-OSC BANDMAN PLANS TO VISIT CAMPUS SOON
Vance "Pinto" Colvig, cartoonist with the Walt Disney studios in Hollywood, will visit the campus next week, according to information received yesterday by Captain Harry L. Beard of the ROTC cadet band. Colvig was a member of the band 20 years ago.
While in college, Colvig was known for his intermission stunts presented during concerts by the band. His repertoire included piano solos, cartoons drawn with either or both hands ,and all kinds of clowning.
After leaving Oregon State, Colvig traveled with a circus and later joined the staff at the Walt Disney studios. He recently organized at the studio what is believed to be the world's only all-cartoonist band. The band held its opening performance at Pickfair, where Mary Pickford's guests gave it an enthusiastic reception.
Oregon State College Barometer, October 24, 1936, page 1
Pig's 'Voice' Visits OSC While on Vacation Trip
The "voice" of the second pig in "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf" was a visitor on the campus a few days ago, stopping here on his way to Portland. Vance Pinto Colvig, animator and voice from the Walt Dusney studios in Hollywood, is on his vacation.
Pinto, as he calls himself, was a student at Oregon State in 1910, 1911 and 1912. While here he played in the band and spent considerable time in the art department, devoting his efforts particularly to cartoon drawing. He accompanied the band on its tours throughout the state, and provided the intermission feature at the concerts. On arrival in a town, he would acquaint himself with the local lore and would entertain the audience with recognizable cartoons of well-known citizens.
After leaving college, he joined the Al G. Barnes circus, playing in the band. Later he went to San Francisco, and was connected with the San Francisco Bulletin as editor of the comic strips. He then became associated with the Walt Disney studios as animator and voice, and has been there for the last seven years.
On his recent visit with friends on the campus, Pinto related many interesting experiences of his travels and his connection with the studio in Hollywood. Among other things, he mentioned the amusing procedure in making the animated cartoons. In order to get the swing of the picture and to be sure that the animals will make a humorous appeal to the audience the animators themselves go through the antics as the cartoons are made.
Pinto is expected to stop on the campus within a few days on his way south for a chat with his old bandmaster, Captain H. L. Beard.
Oregon State College Barometer, November 14, 1936, page 1
When most recalled the studio, however, it was not as a kindergarten or hacienda but as a college campus--"maybe an Ivy League campus," said one employee, "as there was a feeling of exclusivity." For all the intense pressures to get the work done and do it well, hard backbreaking work that required one to sit hunched over a hot drawing board hour after hour--in fact because of the pressures--the old spirit of collegiate jocularity and informality prevailed, intensified, no doubt, by the relative youth of the staff; by one report, the average age of the employees in the mid-1930s was twenty-five. Walt's secretary, Carolyn Schaefer, issued a mimeographed newsletter each month called The Mickey Mouse Melodeon that spread studio gossip. With Walt's blessing Pinto Colvig, a story man and voice artist, started a twenty-five-piece studio band. At lunchtime the staff might head across the street to the annex, where Walt had set up a volleyball court for a match, or they might hurry to the vacant lot next to the sound stage or, when that was built upon, to the lot on Hyperion for a game of baseball, with the married men usually playing the single ones. [page 238]
Early in 1936, several of the dwarfs had been cast with the actors who had inspired them--Atwell for Doc and Harlan for Happy--though story man Baggy GRR. who had done a live reel of Grumpy for [Bill] Tytla, did two voices, Grumpy and Sleepy, veteran movie comedian Billy Gilbert who had a trademark sneeze voiced Sneezy, and longtime movie bit player Scotty Mattraw performed Bashful.[page 253]
By February all the important action of the dwarfs was being shot live first, and the animators were actually going to the sound stage and directing the live-action scenes themselves--with Pinto Colvig putting on a big nose and playing Grumpy or Sneezy or Eddie Collins playing Dopey or Dave Hand or Perce Pearce playing the other dwarfs to an audio playback of the dialogue. The animator then watched the developed film through a viewfinder and chose poses he liked. [page 262]
Neal Gabler, Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination, Knopf, 2006
Walt thought nothing of firing someone who he felt had outlived his usefulness, calling it "weeding out marginal people" or getting rid of "deadwood." No one was safe, not even members of his own family. When his sister-in-law Hazel Sewell suffered a nervous breakdown and he docked her pay, Sewell--who had been at the studio for eleven years, eventually heading up the ink and paint department--tendered her resignation, arguing that her economies had saved the studio tens of thousands of dollars. Walt was brusque: "Personally, I am greatly shocked by your unwarranted attitude. However, if I were in your place and felt the way you do about the organization where I worked, I would probably do the same thing." Another longtime employee complained that he was never promoted. "The reason that you have not been put at the head of your department," Walt wrote him coldly, "is that we do not feel that you are capable of giving us the standard of work that we must have. … If you will consider the quality of your work, I believe you will understand why you have not advanced further." When Clarence Nash, Donald Duck's voice, requested a raise, Walt talked to him "like a Dutch uncle in order to whittle him down to his proper size," and when Pinto Colvig, who did the voices for Goofy and two of the dwarfs, complained that he was being underpaid, Walt ordered him dismissed. "He is just a clown and not at all the type of fellow we need to keep production moving," Walt wrote Roy. "He's been crying to me ever since he's been here." [page 353]
Neal Gabler, Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination, Knopf, 2006
After 1937 Pinto was no longer under exclusive contract to Disney, but until his death in 1967 he continued recording the voice of Goofy.
"A Brief History of Van De Bar Colvig," Southern Oregon Historical Society 1980, page 9
As for Pinto Colvig, he hasn't been funny yet, but he's the kind you have to have him around awhile to get used to. One thing he'd better do is can that Bingville Oregon stuff. If he wants to come from some hayseed village, leave him come from Los Angeles. There's more jaspers creeping around the streets there with hayseed in their hair than in any whole state in the union.
"Behind the Mike with William Moyes" (review of the "Gilmore Fun Circus" radio show), Oregonian, Portland, March 16, 1937, page 9
"Nine stupendous, colossal, gargantuan acts in the center ring," according to barker Cliff Clark, comprise [a] performance of the Gilmore Circus, over KFI at 8 p.m. Featured in the air ring will be Val and Ernie Stanton, Elvia Allman, Pinto Colvig and Johnny Gibson. Felix Mills and his band will blare forth the music.
"Mills Quartet Sings Tonight with Ed Wynn," San Bernardino Sun, April 3, 1937, page 6
Pinto Colvig Joins MGM
HOLLYWOOD, Oct. 5--Pinto Colvig, veteran cartoon comedy gag man, and formerly with Walt Disney, has been added to the staff producing the "Captain and the Kids" series.
Motion Picture Daily, October 6, 1937, page 11
Pinto Colvig Trade Odd Even for Movie Capital.
(Ed. Note: The following article by Frank Daugherty, in the Christian Science Monitor, gives an interesting insight on the career and technique of Pinto Colvig, former Medford resident, now sound expert for animated cartoons in Hollywood.)
HOLLYWOOD, Calif.--(Spl.)--Pinto Colvig, and Pinto Colvig's trade, are two of the most curious things Hollywood has ever produced. The tools of Mr. Colvig's trade consist of two old pie tins, a hand vacuum cleaner, two water buckets, two laundry plungers, a battered old clarinet, a battered old set of drums, some 50 or 60 other miscellaneous musical instruments including jew's harp, hand organ and ocarina, and an array of penny whistles that might make a unit for a museum.
But first, an introduction to Pinto. He began on the vaudeville stage, was graduated to cartooning, went with a circus, and landed in films when he made one of the earliest animated cartoons, "Pinto's Prizma Comedies." He gave up drawing cartoons, however, when he discovered his greater value to them. Without much effort, and without any outside aid, except perhaps one of his curious instruments, Pinto could--and did--imitate practically any natural sound and give it an added fillip that made it immediately and irresistibly funny.
He has moved over now to the old Metro studios to work on the new cartoon there, "The Captain and the Kids," from the famous comic strip, which this company will shortly release, but he was for years with Disney, and was the originator and operator of all sounds made by the third little pig in the saga of that triumvirate.
He can imitate a fish, in or out of water; a fly, a beetle, a frog, a bird, a wagon wheel; an old motor or almost anything else you can name that emits sound. Of course, like all artists, he strives to avoid direct imitation and achieve something approximating an interpretation, and it is just in this process that the fun emerges. Pinto just "naturally" makes the sounds, and audiences just "naturally" laugh.
Makes Sounds FirstHis job now has progressed to the point where he doesn't have to look at the drawings of the animators first to determine what sort of sounds he is going to make. He makes his sounds first now, and the animators do their best to draw something to fit them. But there was a time, of course, when the longer, harder method had to be employed.
He remembers his most difficult imitation as that of a very small bug which was to be ground under an auto tire in one of Disney's cartoons. The bug was not to like the procedure, and was to protest with a loud bug noise. Pinto tried for days to create that bug's noise, but without success. Then one day, having all but given up hope, he heard one of his five children making a peculiar noise with a little paper whistle, and he realized in a flash that he had his noise. The paper whistle had been obtained in a package of confections, so Pinto bought up a number of boxes of the stuff, but found no whistles. He wrote to the factory--he doesn't say, but there is a suspicion here that he hadn't been very successful in his attempts to get the whistle from his child--and the president's secretary wrote back to say that the whistles weren't being made anymore. She had, however, after searching over the whole plant, discovered three of them in the advertising manager's desk, and she sent them along. Today, they are Pinto's most prized possessions.
Pinto writes his score in over the regular staffs for the musical score on all cartoons. Over a prettily sentimental bit of music, for example, he may indicate the need for a "kazoo grunt and a dull thump flam," or a "wet plop," or for just a "lightly squash and hit iron thud." These words don't mean anything to anyone else, but they are Pinto's language for his sounds.
He is, incidentally, only one of quite a number of people who earn comfortable livings making sounds for the animated cartoons. They are the commedia dell' arte behind the scenes, hidden pagliacci whose laughs and tears and other curious sounds are clothed in the little moving drawings on the screen.
Metro's Cartoon PlantThe new cartoon plant at Metro, of which Pinto is only a unit, is not uninteresting on its own account. Here labor some 200 people of various trades and arts whose only object is to give pleasure. "Writers" draw their "story" on some 50 or 60 squares of paper, under the supervision of a "director," who knows both drawing and dramatic and comic story values. Once the story is approved, it is given to the animators, who draw the key figures and their key positions, then pass their drawings to "in-between" men, who draw in all the action on many additional squares of paper. Girls ink these drawings on celluloid and paint the backs of the celluloid with opaque paints.
When all this has been completed, the celluloids are given to the cameraman, who painstakingly shoots them one at a time. If each celluloid were photographed once, it would take 25,000 to 45,000 drawings to make a 700-foot picture. But as many of them are used several times over, in different "repeat" combinations, it usually takes a mere 10,000 to 15,000 drawings for a reel of picture.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 16, 1937, page 10 This article was reprinted from The Christian Science Monitor of November 1, 1937, page 6.
He's 12 Movie Stars Wrapped Up in One
By Harold Heffernan
HOLLYWOOD, Cal.--Sitting in one corner in the cartoon department at M.-G.-M. studios are 12 famous screen characters, but all the visitor sees is one person--a dark, quiet, young man.
This dozen-in-one phenomenon is Pinto Colvig, whose varied accomplishments include cartooning, writing, song composing, acting and the playing of various instruments.
His job is to think up ideas for cartoon comedies--but it doesn't end there. After Colvig gets his ideas in shape, he takes up a pen and draws them out. Then he treks into the recording room and helps give his brain-children voice.
Voice of Many.For six years with Walt Disney, he was the voice of Pluto the Pup, Goofy, the third practical little pig in "The Three Little Pigs," the grasshopper in "The Grasshopper and the Ants" and others.
He authored the song "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf" and "The World Owes Me a Living." Nowadays he's thinking up ideas for his animated comic strip based on "The Captain and the Kids."
Tires of Role.Colvig, whose experiences range from playing clarinet in a circus band to mining in Colorado, is anxious to shed most of his versatility and settle down to scenario writing.
"I'm typed just like any other worker in Hollywood," he said, "but I'm tired of being the oyster's hiccup, the lovesick wailings of a seagull, the pig's grunt or a silly laugh.
"I want to devote my time to writing cartoon scenarios, but what chance have I got? None!"
Des Moines Register, November 25, 1937, page 15
First animated cartoon in color, Pinto Colvig's comedy review, produced by William V. D. Kelly in January, 1919, colored by the Prizma process.
Ed Sullivan, "Hollywood: Famous Firsts," Harrisburg Telegraph, Pennsylvania, December 1, 1937, page 9
With Jack Benny, December 19, 1937 Evansville Courier
The Voice of the Wolf
We dropped in today on Pinto Colvig, who played the voice of the Big Bad Wolf and quavered all the words ever spoken by the smallest of the Three Little Pigs. Colvig has deserted the Walt Disney Studios to think up funny noises for the cartoon comedies starring the "Captain and the Kids" at MGM.
When we entered his sanctum, there was a strange humming noise permeating the air. It all emanated from Colvig's mouth, and when he'd finished we asked him what he was doing.
"I was just making Mama's vacuum cleaner hum 'Home, Sweet Home'," he said.
Colvig, who plays Jack Benny's broken-down automobile on the radio, as well as everything that makes a noise in the celluloid saga of Hans and Fritz, does most of his work with his lips and a broken trombone, which gives his voice the necessary metallic timbre.
He also has a few props, such as his cream pitcher glissando, his office door hinged onto a beer case so he can slam it, and his electric light smasher deluxe. The latter consists of a big tin can with holes in it. He puts a glass bulb in it and drops through the top a hunk of iron. The resultant noise is magnificent. The holes are to let out the sound--and keep in the broken glass.
Frederick C. Othman, UPI Hollywood Correspondent, Corpus Christi Times, December 20, 1937, page 7
COLVIG, PINTO: Music--Clarinetist. The Oregon Appleknocker. Gilmore Circus, KHJ.
"Musicians and Their Work During 1937," The Radio Annual 1938, page 621
Chatter in Hollywood: In the future all actors whose voices are used by Walt Disney will be restrained from exploiting themselves as characters in the Disney cartoons. Walt is really perturbed over the plan of Fancon & Marco to engage Adriana Caselotti, who was heard as Snow White; Roy Atwell, who gave voice to Doc, the dwarf; and Pinto Colvig, who did Sleepy and Grumpy. Disney feels it spoils the illusion to have these humans tell the world that they impersonated the animated figures. Disney, himself, is known to all as the voice of Mickey Mouse, but then he is the creator of Mickey, and he feels that is another matter.
Louella O. Parsons, "Edward G. Robinson Is Named to Top Role in 'The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse'," Fresno Bee, January 26, 1938, page 4
"AIR CHAUFFEUR" MAKES "MAXWELL"
WHEEZE, GROAN FOR BENNY
"How do you make Maxwell sound like a Maxwell when it isn't a Maxwell?"
This, in effect, is the most frequent question asked of recent weeks in the thousands of letters Jack Benny has received in regard to his sound-effects auto.
Pinto Colvig is the man responsible for the development of the apparatus which is the "Maxwell of the Air."
It is he who operates it so skillfully that many persons are prompted to inquire whether or not Jack has a real Maxwell on the stage of the NBC studio.
Colvig, Hollywood's most unusual sound effects engineer, is a veteran of both radio and animated cartoon sound effects.
He was consulted regarding effects for the venerable Benny vehicle following the first broadcast on which the Maxwell was mentioned.
He uses the "south end" of the trombone for the sound of the car's starting motor.
The battered wash boiler with mounted electric motor gives a perfect imitation of a rickety jalopy rolling down a bumpy road.
The rattle, cowbell, steel plate and coffee can mounted on a board, when beaten with a wooden hammer, create an illusion of things dropping off the Maxwell.
The mechanical effects, together with whistles, screams, chugs and wheezes supplied by Pinto himself, constitute the working parts of Jack's famous Maxwell.
Jack calls the talented sound effects engineer his "air chauffeur," and no name could be more accurate.
For Colvig is the only fellow who's ever actually "driven" the Benny bus.
Like Phil Baker's "Beetle" and Edgar Bergen's "Charlie McCarthy," Benny's Maxwell is a rich source of gags.
Many of the heartiest guffaws traced to the Benny program come by way of his mythical auto.
In this day of ever-increasing difficulty in obtaining gag material, Benny finds his gas buggy a handy solution for script troubles.
Town Weekly Magazine Section, supplement to the Schoharie, N.Y. Republican, February 17, 1938, page 7
The Joe Penner show seems to have a stranglehold on the Walt Disney cartoon company. The recent appearance of "Pinto" Colvig as a mad bull on the program marked the fourth ex-cartoon character to break into the cast. Colvig has been the voice of Pluto the Pup, Goofy the Half-Wit, one of the three little pigs, the Big Bad Wolf, the Grasshopper, and numerous others.
"Fan Fare," Wisconsin State Journal, Madison, March 15, 1938, page 14
Colvig to Schlesinger
Leon Schlesinger has signed Pinto Colvig as a voice specialist and gag and story man. Colvig was formerly with Walt Disney in the same capacity.
Boxoffice, June 11, 1938, page 40
Schlesinger Signs Colvig
Leon Schlesinger has engaged Pinto Colvig to work in his story department, and he will also be heard as a voice in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies. Pinto was with Disney for six years, he was the voice of Pluto, and also of Grumpy in "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."
The Film Daily, June 16, 1938, page 5
June 25, 1938
Just got back from a two weeks theatre engagement yesterday. Your telegram was forwarded to me in Salt Lake City--which explains why you didn't hear from me while you were here with the Shriners--I had answered your letter while rehearsing for the Jack Benny Show explaining why it would be impossible to meet you and the So. Oregon gang as I was leaving town to go on personal appearance tour, and mailed your letter to "Mayfair Hotel"--I put "Hillah" somewhere on the envelope, so maybe the hotel might have now had it forwarded to Ashland??? Anyway--hope you enjoyed yourself while here and sorry that I wasn't in town to be on hand, but show-business is like that--here today there tomorrow--I am back to do some recording for some Warner Bros. short subjects and possibly do a comedy (small town "slicker") character for a feature--and was all booked for ("Grumpy"--Snow White) personal appearance tour in July--Kansas City, Milwaukee, St. Louis and 3 weeks Chicago with guest-star spots on radio (N.B.C.) etc., but am having them fudged up to last of August--from Chicago I may go on to New York--and after some dates there it is being talked of a possible tour for me in England--Australia--and God knows where???? I was all booked last spring to go on the road with Adrianna Caselotti (voice of Snow White), who is now touring the New England states, but a contract here kept me from going. I was recording a comedy song a few weeks ago on the big sound stage at Warner Bros.-First National Studios, with a 45-piece orch--and from up in the glass monitor room, the head sound engineer yelled at me thru the loudspeaker: "Hey, Pinto, that's lousy--you haven't improved since you were in the OAC Glee Club 25 years ago!"
I wondered "who th' hell??"--looked up and saw a large bald-headed man I couldn't recognize--later he came down on the stage and introduced himself as Dolph Thomas--said he was also with the OAC Glee Club 25 years ago with me! Said his son is engaged to Capt. Beard's niece--
Well, Fred--next time have the shrine plan their vacation and convention while I'm in town--Good luck--and kindest regards to all the "gang" at the old "Cardamom Seed Club"--Tell Verge, he wouldn't know the old Apple-knocker--I hain't tooken a drink in 14 months--but dammit, I don't feel any better for it!!!
Happy Days! from the old loose-lip E-flat squeaker--
2177 Moreno Dr
Los Angeles, Calif.
Letter to Fred Strang, photocopy, SOHS vertical files
Film, Radio, Stage Fame of Pinto Colvig
Traced to Odd Clarinet Tooting
There's no telling what will develop from playing the clarinet.
Take the case of Vance "Pinto" Colvig, as good a case as any, or probably a little better.
Quarter of a century ago Pinto was playing a clarinet in the Oregon Agricultural College band. Fred Strang was playing a baritone in the same band. Only difference between the two Medford boys was that Fred tooted what was written by the composer, whereas Pinto liked to make strange sounds, noises that couldn't be put down in notes.
It was only natural under the circumstances that Pinto should eventually get into a circus band, and it was just as natural that he should not stay there long, for a circus band leaves little room for the expansion of odd talent.
In fact there is only one place for odd talent. That is Hollywood. So presently Pinto was cutting up various kinds of capers in the movie capital, all in the name of work for which Hollywood producers pay real money. By now Pinto could make any kind of sound known to mankind and many that weren't. So where should he land? In Walt Disney's studio, of course.
Pinto became the voice for Pluto the Pup, Goofy the Half-Wit. He was the Big Bad Wolf and one of the three little pigs. Besides, he wrote lyrics for "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf."
Then came the classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Pinto was two of the dwarfs: Grumpy and Sleepy. He got pictured in Screen Guide for that.
Now Pinto's talents have undergone further transformations. He has just completed a personal appearance tour, is now back in Hollywood to do some recording for Warner Brothers short subjects and possibly a comedy character for a feature. Then in August another personal appearance tour looms--Chicago, New York, possibly England, Australia, with guest artist spots on radio programs.
All this was sketched by Pinto in a letter to Fred Strang. Pinto tried to explain why he had not kept a date with Fred to play in the Shrine band at the Los Angeles convention, and was the reason for the letter. Pinto said he was personally appearing at Salt Lake City at the time, but Fred should know better than to depend on a clarinet player.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 30, 1938, page 10
Continuing to pack 'em in with his weekend stage shows, Al Weiss Jr. is headlining lovely Terry Lawler this coming weekend with the Three Radio Ramblers, remembered for their Vitaphone shorts, in the second spot. The following week he is featuring Pinto Colvig, the new "voice" at the Fleischer studios. Previously associated with Walt Disney, Pinto's is the personality behind the voice that spoke several parts in "Three Little Pigs" and in "Snow White," notably that of Grumpy. Pinto Colvig joined the Fleischer staff in February.
"Miami," Boxoffice, March 18, 1939, page 80
While the hero and heroine of the first animated cartoon created wholly in the new Miami studios of the Max Fleischer organization, Popeye (Jack Mercer) and Olive Oyl (Margie Hines, also recently Mrs. Jack Mercer), were in New York broadcasting on last Tuesday evening's "We, the People" program, the world premiere of that picture, "Aladdin's Wonderful Lamp," was being unreeled at the Sheridan Theatre on Miami Beach. Speaking for the studio was Pinto Colvig, who transferred his working locale recently from the Disney studios to Fleischer's. The late Grumpy speaks as the villain in this new two-reel comedy.
"Miami," Boxoffice, April 8, 1939, page 78
Gabby from Fleischer Studios' "Gulliver's Travels"--voiced by Pinto Colvig.
Then along came Pinto Colvig, the voice of Bluto. Pinto produced the first colored animated cartoon, out in San Francisco in 1919. He did the talking for Grumpy in "Snow White" and gave the sound effects of the hound in "The Hound of the Baskervilles." He has several voices in "Gulliver."
"The other day I was a mother mule," confessed Pinto, who once was a newspaper cartoonist in San Francisco.
Ferman Wilson, "What's This--Gallivanting Gulliver," The Miami News, June 11, 1939, page D1
Old Trombone Is Insured for $2500 by Film Expert
By the United Press
HOLLYWOOD, Sept. 5--A battered old trombone that would bring less than a dollar in a junk shop has been insured for $2500 by Pinto Colvig, cartoonist and sound effects man.
Colvig took out the insurance policy after he had mislaid the instrument and could not find it for two days.
The trombone originally was purchased by Colvig in a Denver pawn shop in 1913, but has never been used as a musical instrument. Colvig bought the instrument with the intention of joining a circus band, but after several attempts to play it he gave up.
The trombone, however, has appeared in pictures and on the air as almost everything except a trombone. At present it is a puffing horse in Paramount's feature cartoon "Gulliver's Travels." One of its famous jobs was to provide the sound effects for Jack Benny's Maxwell car on his radio show.
Colvig gave up circus and vaudeville work several years ago to become a human sound effects library for animated cartoons. Although he can imitate more than 500 sounds with his mouth, he uses the trombone as an aid for other sounds. The instrument has worked in more than 250 animated cartoons and has earned its owner many dollars. Its battered condition makes it possible for Colvig to produce sounds that he says would be impossible in a new trombone.
About three years ago Colvig gave a "command" performance on his trombone before Leopold Stokowski, noted symphony conductor.
Stokowski was visiting the Disney studios as the guest of Walt Disney at the time. Disney called Colvig, who was working there at the time, to give a demonstration of sound effects. After he had imitated several sounds, Colvig pulled out his battered trombone.
A startled look crept over Stokowski's face as he saw the instrument. Unperturbed, Colvig went ahead with his sound imitations.
"Thank Heaven," Stokowski said at the end of the performance. "I thought you were going to play it."
The Pittsburgh Press, September 5, 1939, page 14
Pinto Colvig, whose voice (but not his face) has been projected from many a screen, helps fix the personality of most characters. He acts out such scenes as the dumpy little king in a rage, demanding war. Artists draw according to his acting.
"Fleischer Directing Production of 'Gulliver's Travels' Via the Ink Pot," Sarasota Herald-Tribune, November 12, 1939, page 5
November 29, 1939 Racine Journal-Times
The anonymous voice of little "Gabby," the town crier who "steals the show" in the full-laugh Technicolor cartoon "Gulliver's Travels," produced by Max Fleischer and released by Paramount, is Pinto Colvig, circus and vaudeville entertainer for the past 17 years, who boasts that he can make more than 500 sounds for cartoons.
"On the Aisle," Gettysburg Times, December 23, 1939, page 8
December 10, 1939 Cleveland Plain Dealer
The voice of Gabby, which is something the like of which you have not heard, was done by Pinto Colvig, "the man of 1,000 voices," and was created by making a record in a normal tone of voice and then speeding up the record to raise the pitch and intensity of the sound.
Clarke Wales, "Gulliver's Travels," Screen & Radio Weekly, supplement to Detroit Free Press, December 17, 1939, page 61
Ex-Circus Man Gabby's Voice
Hollywood, Cal., Dec. 23--The anonymous voice of little "Gabby," the town crier who "steals the show" in the full-length Technicolor cartoon "Gulliver's Travels," is Pinto Colvig, circus and vaudeville entertainer for the past 17 years, who boasts that he can make more than five hundred sounds for cartoons.
Omaha World-Herald, December 24, 1939, page 21
Cockeyed Pigeon's Flight Stumped 'Em
The animators working on "Gulliver's Travels," the full-length Technicolor cartoon at the Paramount, were stumped. In drawing almost every frame, the boys worked out the action themselves before a mirror and then drew it. But how does a cockeyed pigeon fly?
There is such a pigeon, named "Twinkletoes," in the picture, who always flies in the wrong direction. The animators were at a loss to make the erratic course of the pigeon look convincing until Pinto Colvig, sound effects expert, blindfolded himself, spun around until dizzy and then started to walk. The resultant action was just what the artists were looking for.
San Francisco Chronicle, December 28, 1939, page 4
Work is scheduled to start almost immediately at the Fleischer studios in Miami, Fla., on a follow-up to Paramount's "Gulliver's Travels," although the subject has not yet been announced. Cal Howard, animated cartoon artist, and Pinto Colvig, gag man, have been dispatched to Miami after spending some time at the local Paramount studio.
"Feature-Length Cartoon Idea Takes; Many Plan for 1940," Boxoffice, January 6, 1940, page 68
Fleischer to Make Cartoon Feature as Follow-Up to "Gulliver's Travels"
Cal Howard, animated cartoon artist, and Pinto Colvig, gag man who was the voice of "Gabby" and "King Bombo" in "Gulliver's Travels," left for Miami, Fla. to join the force of Fleischer Studios on a follow-up full-length animated feature. Howard was also the voice and likeness of the Prince Charming in "Gulliver." The new feature is scheduled to go into work immediately.
Showmen's Trade Review, January 6, 1940, page 21
FUNNY FACES BY PINTO COLVIG IN MAGAZINE STORY
Of interest to his many friends in Medford is the page devoted to Pinto Colvig in the February issue of the American magazine, now on sale at local newsstands.
The article, on page 118, is titled "Boo to You," and shows Pinto making faces at himself in the mirror. Those who know Pinto and remember his faculty for making faces will not be surprised to see the contortions into which he can twist his "phiz."
The article further states: "If the nation were polled to determine which industry is the maddest, the movies would win going away. For evidence, here is Pinto Colvig, ace cartoonist, animator and gagman, making faces at himself in the Max Fleischer Studios, Miami, Fla. To draw expressions of surprise, laughter or who's-scared-now on animated cartoon characters, he finds his best model is his own mirrored face."
Of timely interest is that Jacksonville and Medford's contribution to Hollywood's fastest growing industry--the animated cartoon--played an important part in the making of "Gulliver's Travels," which comes to the Craterian Theater tomorrow for a four-day showing. Pinto Colvig was chief gagman for this Max Fleischer full-length cartoon, and he is heard as the voice of the two of the characters. For Pinto not only can make faces and think up gags, but has also the gift of adapting his voice to the characters he draws.
About the only thing he doesn't do anymore is to use his old yellow clarinet in the musical background. Come to think of it, there have been some rather weird sounds in some of the later cartoons coming from the Fleischer Studios. Perhaps it is the clarinet!
Medford Mail Tribune, January 23, 1940, page 5
Alumnus Cartoonist Draws Many Pictures for 'Gulliver's Travels'
Pinto Colvig, who amused Beavers with his humorous cartoons during his student days at Oregon State, drew many of the pictures in the animated cartoon "Gulliver's Travels," now showing in Corvallis.
Colvig played E-flat clarinet in the Oregon State band 1912-13 and now uses the same instrument for sound effects in many Hollywood animated cartoons.
Captain Harry L. Beard, director of the Oregon State ROTC cadet band, remarked that anyone who knew Colvig couldn't help but recognize his voice in various places in the cartoon "Gulliver's Travels."
Colvig was for many years with the Walt Disney productions and played the voice part of "Grumpy" in "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."
Oregon State College Barometer, January 23, 1940, page 4
"GULLIVER'S TRAVELS" — Paramount.—From the classic by Jonathan Swift. Produced by Max Fleischer. Directed by Dave Fleischer. Singing voice of the Prince by Lanny Ross; Singing voice of the Princess by Jessica Dragonette; Voice of Gulliver by Sam Parker; Speaking voice of the Princess by Lovey Warren; Speaking voice of the Prince by Cal Howard; Voice of Gabby by Pinto Colvig.
"Casts of Current Pictures," Photoplay, February 1940, page 87
2177 Moreno Drive, Los Angeles, California
Vance Colvig, 47, born in Oregon, cartoonist, earned $3600 in 1939
Margaret, 47, born in Oregon
Vance Jr., 22, born in California
Mason William, 20, born in California
Byington, 18, born in California
Bourke, 17, born in California
Courtney, 8, born in California
U.S. Census, enumerated April 26, 1940
Pinto, Alias Pluto the Pup, to Come to Oregon State Campus this Fall
Pinto, who has supplied the voices for Pluto the pup, the town crier in "Gulliver's Travels" and two of the dwarfs from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," will be on the Oregon State campus sometime this fall.
"Pinto" is Vance Colvig, who played an E-flat clarinet in the band when he attended Oregon State from 1910 to 1913. When Colvig attended classes he was accompanied by Bones, a large dog which he got from Johnny D. Wells, at that time chief of police of Corvallis and now chief of campus patrol. Bones was dressed with a bandanna about his neck on weekdays, but on Sunday he wore a collar and tie.
Colvig was scheduled to make a speech at a banquet during the national convention of Kappa Kappa Psi, band honor society, held on the OSC campus last summer, but was unable to attend. However, he recorded his speech and the banqueters heard it from a record player. Members of the Kappa Kappa Psi then made recordings of greetings to Colvig. Captain Harry L. Beard, professor of band instruments and mathematics, who made a trip through the Yosemite Valley, went to Hollywood and delivered the recording in person to Colvig.
Colvig is doing work on sound effects and recording and will do some of his work on this campus. Kappa Kappa Psi plans to entertain him and initiate him into the OSC chapter as an honorary member.
Oregon State College Barometer, October 29, 1941, page 4
Pinto Colvig, famed voice of Pluto of the films, has been doing quite a bit of mike work on quite a few shows. And doing a marvelous job--some program is going to hand him a real part and come up with a new air star.
But Pinto isn't happy with the good job he's doing in radio. Here's how he explained the why of that to me:
"I was in pictures years and years--and what did I do? Chiefly, I barked. As Pluto. As the Hound of the Baskervilles. As a dozen other long- or short-haired four-legged characters. But I graduated to a few other sounds--spitting like a grasshopper, burping like an off-the-wagon bug, for example.
"Now, all I ask out of radio is that I get an opportunity to make a few other sounds than barks. And, maybe, just maybe I say, someday" (Pinto's eyes were flaming with a wild, otherworld fire at this point) "maybe someday they'll even let me do something absolutely out of role, that I've always wanted to try . . . talk in a human voice."
Radio Life, February 15, 1942, page 12
The walls of [Henry L. Beard]'s office are covered with photographs of former pupils. One is now the bandmaster of the United States army band in Washington, D.C., while another, Pinto Colvig, is a cartoonist and sound man with Walt Disney. Most of the students still keep in touch with Beard.
"The reason those boys have made good was not only the fact that they had talent but that they worked hard. To be successful you can't have one without the other," he concluded.
"Cap Beard Directs OSC Bands Since Mary's Peak Was Nothing but 'A Hole in the Ground,'" Oregon State College Barometer, March 5, 1942, page 1
Jack Benny's giving away his nonexistent Maxwell to the scrap drive has made work for Pinto Colvig. Pinto produces the leering whinny and gasping of Benny's new horse, Leona.
"Behind the Mike with William Moyes," Oregonian, Portland, November 20, 1942, page 11
So It's Real, Is It?
The horrible gasping and leering whinny of Jack Benny's new horse is produced through the tortured vocal cords of "Pinto" Colvig, whose list of animal noises has come down the years through Walt Disney cartoons. "Leona," the horse, has replaced the Maxwell as transportation for the Benny gang.
Movie and Radio Guide, December 4, 1942, page 16
The horrible gasping and leering whinny of Jack Benny's new horse, "Leona," is produced through the vocal cords of "Pinto" Colvig, whose list of animal noises has been heard [for] years through Walt Disney shorts, "Snow White," and other animated media.
Earle Ferris, "Right Out of the Air," Chatham Courier, December 22, 1942, page 5
The one-time performance of "Pause That Refreshes on the Air" with Andre Kostelanetz conducting from Hollywood was a high point in holiday listening. The eminent musical director flew out from New York especially to preview on his program the music from Walt Disney's new Latin American-slanted picture, "Saludos Amigos," made at request of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs.
The broadcast, usually barred to a studio audience, took on the aspect of a gala occasion in Columbia Square's Studio A. Special seats were roped off for diplomatic representatives of the Latin American countries, who were also honored at a reception in Brittingham's after the program.
The most interesting thing in watching the Kostelanetz production was the string section--rather--the strings, for an aggregation spreading out over three-fourths of the stage could scarcely be called a "section." It was with violins, harp, bass fiddles that Dr. Kostelanetz produced that tantalizing, rippling effect. Placement of a microphone over the violins also accentuated their contributions.
From the East, Kostelanetz brought along a large crew including his producer, director, emcee Ted Cott, arranger, and writer, but the orchestra for the one-time local appearance was composed of musicians from the Los Angeles Philharmonic--and what a splendid job they did after only a few hours of rehearsal!
During the broadcast, Donald Duck's voice (Clarence Nash) and "Goofy" (Pete [sic] Colvig) appeared with Walt Disney in amusing excerpts from the "Saludos Amigos" picture,. The master cartoonist had hurried back from a sojourn in Mexico to air his remarks.
The whimsical, but fundamentally sound, plot of the Disney picture, in which Donald Duck visits Latin America only to discover that he's not so far from home after all, should go far toward cementing relations with our southern friends. So should music like that of Dr. Kostelanetz, which displayed his first-hand knowledge of Latin American rhythms so expertly that when the orchestra swung into the samba, all the assembled Latin American diplomats tapped feet and nodded approving heads.
KNX, 1:20 p.m. Sun.Radio Life, January 10, 1943, page 10
KYSER ADDS WRITER
Kay Kyser, prexy of "College of Musical Knowledge," has added a new writer to his staff, a fellow named Vance Colvig. It's nothing unusual for an artist to add writers and normally it's not too newsy but . . . Vance Colvig, before being signed as a writer, was connected with NBC in Hollywood--as a janitor!
"On the Air," Daily Herald, Circleville, Ohio, February 17, 1943, page 5
This Walt Disney Productions photo of Pinto and Goofy was widely printed
during the "Snow White" re-release tour of 1944.
The creation of Goofy, [Pinto] said, was the result of a conference of Walt and associates who sought to epitomize a village idiot in line and color. Pinto insists that he was an inspirational model at the conference, and that his manipulation of his Adams apple and his gulpy aw-shucksery got him the job as Goofy's vocal cords.
E. B. Radcliffe, "Out in Front," The Cincinnati Enquirer, February 1, 1944
"Snow White" Artists in WLW Air Tie-In
NEW YORK--Five weeks of personal appearances of various artists who helped make Walt Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" have been arranged by Terry Turner, chief of RKO's exploitation department.'Goofiest' Job in Hollywood Pinto Colvig's
Clarence Nash, Pinto Colvig, Dick Mitchell and Don Graham have left for Cincinnati, where they will participate in the huge preopening campaign. Adriana Caselotti, the voice of "Snow White," is included in the tour. Nash is the voice of Donald Duck and Colvig of "Grumpy," one of the seven dwarfs, as well as "Goofy." Mitchell and Graham are Disney artists.
Fifty theatres in four Midwest states will be included in the multi-premiere.
Radio station WLW of Cincinnati will play a conspicuous part in the campaign. The radio schedule includes four one-hour shows; four half-hour programs; four five-minute spots; four Gregor Ziemer broadcasts on Saturday nights; twelve 15-minute shows; a 15-minute "Snow White Queen" program on February 22, and a 30-minute broadcast from the Variety Club "Coronation Dinner" at the Netherlands Plaza Hotel, February 24.
The Disney feature will open during the week of February 24 to March 2, which has been proclaimed "Snow White Week" by the governors of Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and West Virginia. The artists will make their personal appearances in the four states during the week and return to Cincinnati on weekends to make their broadcasts over WLW.
Boxoffice, February 5, 1944, page 44
A man of many voices and a definite loss all these years to the list of live-action comedians is Pinto Colvig, the voice of the lanky Walt Disney celluloid character, Goofy, who will appear at the Palace Theater here Friday evening with Vera Collins, the new "Princess Snow White." Colvig also created the voice of Grumpy in the Walt Disney feature production "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."
Goofy, a slightly balmy but kindly soul, like Topsy "just growed." He has no known ancestry but Pinto, as he is known to the studio personnel, claims that every American small town has a Goofy, a village character.
Goofy has been on the Disney roster of characters since 1932. At that time he as known as Dippy Dawg and played only very small bit parts. He made a few appearances in the early black-and-white pictures. Because he could always be depended upon, in his slap-happy way, to give good performances, he has slowly but surely risen to a richly deserved stardom. In true Hollywood tradition, with recognition came the change in his name.
Before Goofy was discovered, Pinto Colvig was on the Disney lot doing voices for many Disney animal characters such as barking and creating the sound effects for Pluto, the Disney dog.
The voice of another outstanding character in Disney pictures, besides Grumpy and Pluto, which was supplied by Pinto was that of the Practical Pig who built his house out of bricks. The film "The Three Little Pigs" made quite a sensation in this country during the years of the Depression and is even credited with boosting the morale of the people during those years.
Father of 5 sons, 3 of whom are in the armed services, Colvig also creates the sound effects for Jack Benny's camel and famous Maxwell car.
Globe-Gazette, Mason City, Iowa, March 23, 1944, page 16
"Grumpy" and "Snow White" to Entertain
Students Here Thursday Morning
From Walt Disney's studios in Hollywood comes the character of "Grumpy," who entertains Atlantic schoolchildren, accompanied by the new "Snow White," from Disney's masterpiece, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." They will appear at the Jackson School at 10:30 Thursday morning, at the Lincoln building at 11 o'clock and at the high school at 11:30.Atlantic News-Telegraph, Atlantic, Iowa, March 29, 1944, page 3
Selected by Deems Taylor, noted American music authority, as the new "Princess Snow White" in a contest conducted by RKO Radio pictures and station WLW, Miss Vera Collins of Middletown, Ohio, is making personal appearances with Pinto (Grumpy) Colvig in the Midwest and in conjunction with the showing of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." The picture is booked at the Atlantic theater April 5-8.
Colvig, son of an Oregon judge, studied at the Oregon State College after which he came to California and worked as a newspaperman and cartoonist for the San
Francisco Chronicle and United Features Syndicate. While with the Chronicle, he started to cover radio, which was then in its infancy. His cartoons on this revolutionary subject later were syndicated. He also worked as an artist in the early animated cartoon studios around 1915.
Pinto, born in Jacksonville, a small town near Medford, Ore., has held many interesting positions. At one time he traveled with a circus band. It was then he learned about the various noises made by different animals which were later to be his life work.
The voice of another outstanding character in Disney pictures, besides Grumpy and Pluto, which was supplied by Pinto, was that of the practical pig who built his house out of bricks. The film, "The Three Little Pigs," made quite a sensation in this country during the years of the Depression and is even credited with boosting the morale of the people during those years.
Colvig has rendered vocal efforts for almost every type of machinery from airplane motor to vacuum cleaner and that of animals from ape to zebra. "When a canine voice was required for the blood-curdler, 'The Hound of the Baskervilles'," Pinto explains, "the producers tried dogs and dogs, but the pups would either lose their tongues or make such a racket that we couldn't stop them without cutting out all the other sound. So they said, 'Get Colvig! We can at least shut him up,' and I muscled in on a role that would make any dog in California famous."
Father of five sons, three of whom are in the armed services, Colvig also created the sound effects for Jack Benny's camel and famous Maxwell car.
Pinto Colvig, the Voice of Goofy--and Others
We learned more about Disney, animation, development of cartoon characters and such matters in two sessions of talk with Pinto Colvig than we found out in all the books and articles we have read since we first started being interested in such matters, and that's before talking pictures. Pinto, now in his early fifties, has probably evoked more glee from kids than any 10 people in the movies, and we're writing about him now because "Snow White" is here and Pinto had a considerable hand--or rather voice--in that classic.
Colvig is more careful with his throat than any Metropolitan tenor. He just can't afford to get a frog entangled in those pipes of his because any moment he may be called back to the Disney studio to talk in a sequence for Goofy, for one of the dwarfs perhaps in a new picture, or any one of a hundred other character types.
"Funny where I got the idea for Goofy's voice," said Colvig. "Disney was rapidly developing the character and he seemed to me more and more like one of those big bucolic youths of the village or crossroads who have no particular aim in life beyond cracker barrel conferences or cutting their initials in the hitching post in front of the general store. I knew one such lad in [Oregon]. He was a flagman at the railroad crossing. His voice was perfect and I studied it until I had every shade and nuance down. You can hear this town clown now any time you hear Goofy talk." . . . And that's where they get their ideas.
Jake Rachman, "Stage and Screen," Omaha World Herald, April 9, 1944, page 64
April 17, 1944 Wisconsin State Journal
PRINCESS IN "SNOW WHITE" HERE IN PERSON--
VARSITY THEATER WED.
From Walt Disney's studios, Hollywood, comes the character of "Grumpy" to visit with us, accompanied by the new "Snow White" from Walt Disney's masterpiece, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." They will be in Carbondale on the Varsity Theatre stage Wednesday night at 9 p.m.
Pinto Colvig (Grumpy) is known as the man of a thousand faces, a veteran face-maker and sound-supplier of such characters as Mickey Mouse's Pluto, Goofy the half wit, the Grasshopper, the practical Little Pig, the Big Bad Wolf. In "Snow White" he was Grumpy and Sleepy, and according to Pinto, his voice has been heard in over 275 animated cartoons, as well as many full-length motion pictures.
How did Colvig ever get himself into such an unusual profession? His life history is just as spotted with variety as his freckled face which won him his nickname. His college career was punctuated with frequent escapades, during which he accompanied a circus on its summer tour. He tried all types of clown acts and played the clarinet in the circus band.
Colvig has rendered vocal efforts for almost every type of machinery from airplane motor to vacuum cleaner and that of animals from ape to zebra. "When a canine voice was required for the blood-curdler 'The Hound of the Baskervilles'," Pinto explains, "the producers tried dogs and dogs, but the pups would either lose their tongues or make such a racket that we couldn't stop them without cutting out all the other sound. So they said, 'Get Colvig! We can at least shut him up,' and I muscled in on a role that would make any dog in California famous."
This will be Colvig's first visit to this section of the country in many years. The studio has sent him here to appear in person in connection with the Midwest premiere of the picture show "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."
The Free Press, Carbondale, Illinois, April 25, 1944, page 2
Surely the most refreshing character to appear in Regina in a long, long time was the blue-suited, rubber-faced lad of 52 who hurried about the city Thursday keeping school children in an uproar with his merry antics.
He went to school once, himself, and majored in "campustry." Campustry, he explains, is where you lie under a tree and just relax and enjoy life.
Pinto Colvig--that's the fellow's name--is still getting a bang out of life and working his heart out to put some zip into the lives of the people he meets.
* * *Bruce Peacock, "Children in Uproar," The Leader-Post, Regina, Saskatchewan, June 8, 1944, page 3
First stop on Thursday's school tour was Wetmore, where more than 500 students of that school and St. Augustine's crowded into the auditorium. In no time, Pinto Colvig had the children howling at his jokes, funny faces, imitations and clowning. He even imitated Jack Benny's Maxwell just the way he has done on the Benny radio show.
Looking up into the balcony, he quipped: "This is the first place I've played where I can be hit with tomatoes from all directions."
Much the same type of show was presented at Victoria hall for more than 600 students of Haultain, Imperial, Thomson and St. Joseph's schools.
At every stop, Colvig kept up his clowning all the way from the stage to a waiting car. "I really love working with kids," he said. "I'm just a big kid myself . . . a juvenile delinquent in my second childhood."
Remembers EstevanA former clarinet player in a circus band, Pinto remembers the tent being blown down at Estevan some years ago. A souvenir of his circus days is an elephant hair he carries in his wallet.
"It's a real good luck charm," he said. "You know, I was showing it to Rochester of the Jack Benny show recently, and if I had had the Kohinoor diamond in the other hand I think he would have taken the elephant hair."
And then he wrinkles his face up and goes "yuk, yuk, yuk" like Goofy does in the movie cartoons.
Disney "Voices" Cultivate Art of Exaggerated HamSNOW WHITE has promised me a kiss if I help her locate her baggage. So how about some help, fellas? It disappeared between Edmonton and Saskatoon, and contains $1,500 worth of clothes.
By TED SCHRADER
I met the voice of Walt Disney's famous cartoon at the Royal Alexandra. She looks very much as she did in the cartoon: long dark hair that hangs over her
shoulders, black eyes, scarlet puckered mouth, tanned complexion and a tight black sweater.
I asked her to sing Someday My Prince Will Come, and she focused those soft eyes on me, puckered her mouth just a little more, and said: "Why should I sing for a prince when you are here?"
My head began to swim and I panted for breath.
She was stowing away ham and eggs like a lumberjack.
"Life is beautiful. Life is good," she said, and added: "When you're eating."
Here's how she got the part as Snow White's voice. Her father is a singing teacher, and she has studied singing for years. One day in 1937 the telephone rang for her father, and Disney's studio asked him if he could recommend anyone for
Snow White's part.
Adriana Caselotti (for that is her name) was listening on the extension, "Give me a chance," she shouted, and they accepted the offer.
She hasn't done any voices since, "But something is coming up," she said.
Pinto Colvig does the voices of Goofy and Pluto, and shined as Grumpy, [the] part of the big bad wolf, the third little pig, the grasshopper and others.
I asked him to imitate Grumpy, and he frolicked around the room like a double-jointed adagio dancer.
"Women, hmph!" he said, scowling his fiercest scowl." They don't know a sic'm from all git-out. Mark my words. I'm warning ya there'll be trouble brewin.' Felt it comin' all day. Sptui. M'corns hurt!"
He's great on expectoration noises.
"I can out-spit anyone for a dime," he said. I didn't take him up. There's a $50 fine.
When a Disney production got started, the voice would act out the parts, as hammy as possible.
"Cartoons are just exaggerated ham," he explained. And as he bounced from one side of the room to another, he hammed it up plenty. He looks something like
Grumpy, and even like the wolf--when he's acting.
He learned how to ham in the Mack Sennett comedies, when Mickey Rooney was Mickey McGuire.
Pinto attended Oregon State University, but never graduated. The circus used to come to town just at studying time, and he couldn't resist the temptation to join its band. He was also a clown, a cartoonist on the Carson City Daily News, Nevada, a
hobo and a writer.
"I've tried a bit of anything and I still don't know what I'll end up as."
The Walt Disney pair are here for three days to entertain the men at Deer Lodge Hospital, children at the St. Joseph's Vocational School, the Children's Home and
Children's Hospital. Sunday they will entertain the troops at the United Services Centre and the Orpheum Theatre.
Winnipeg Tribune, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, June 9, 1944, page 13
Snow White Charms at Children's Hospital
Snow White and her friend, Pinto Colvig, who is the voice of Pluto and Goofy, completely bewitched tiny tots at the Children's Hospital Saturday. Too young to be free and easy with the troupe of entertainers, which included the accompanist, Louise Lindon, of Toronto, the children sat quietly and took everything in carefully.
Pinto Colvig impersonated the three little pigs for the young audience. Miss Adriana Caselotti sang several songs from her role of Snow White in the Walt Disney picture. The show lasted for an hour.
Winnipeg Free Press, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, June 12, 1944, page 4
If a lonely serviceman wants to hear some nice, friendly noises to remind him of home, all he has to do is write to the radio program "Command Performance," and Vance Colvig will make them for him. Using no other tools than his own rubbery lips and part of an old trombone, Colvig can imitate anything from the peep of a city sparrow to the roar of a wild bull. He was a circus bandsman who quit the big top to draw for the animated cartoons of 20 years ago. Because of his circus-inspired talent for making noises he changed to imitating sounds for Disney characters. Author of "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" Colvig hails from Oregon, is married and the father of five sons.
Omaha World-Herald, July 26, 1944, page 16
Voicemaker DeLuxeA homesick doughboy in Italy scratches a note to the War Department, "I sure miss the roar of the old subway train in the Bronx. How about hearing it?"
By John Reddy
Since it would be difficult and expensive to record the actual roar of the subway, the War Department does the next best thing and gets one Pinto Colvig, a skinny ex-circus clarinet player with murals tattooed decoratively over his freckled hide. Because Pinto can make practically any sound in the world, the whole thing is very simple to reproduce.
Pinto ambles up to a microphone in Hollywood, jiggles his Adam's apple and gives out a deafening roar. The Army then shortwaves the noise around the globe. The soldier in Italy is happy. He can't tell Pinto's imitation from a real subway. Probably a motorman couldn't.
With Pinto, making noises is an art. However, he can create much more than just strange noises. He collaborated on the original lyrics of "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" [and] created the voices of Pluto, Goofy and other famed Walt Disney characters in cartoonland.
But Pinto would rather make noise than anything. The sound of his raucous voice has assailed your ears in any one of a hundred different disguises in radio, movies and animated cartoons. You may have heard him as Jack Benny's Maxwell, a human heart, Pluto the Pup, a mad elephant's trumpeting, Grumpy, the dwarf in Snow White, the hound in The Hound of the Baskervilles or the Practical Pig in The Three Little Pigs.
In the early days of radio the late Joe Penner had a broadcast calling for the menacing bellow of a wild bull. Since getting a bull into a radio studio poses several delicate problems, he sent for Pinto instead. When Pinto arrived Penner looked startled. Him, a bull? It couldn't be!
"What have you got," the comedian demanded somewhat skeptically, "in, say, an unruly three-year-old steer?"
"Texas or Argentine?" queried Pinto snappily.
After a long stretch of hard work several years ago, Pinto suffered a nervous breakdown. When he woke up in a private sanitarium he saw a nurse hovering solicitously over him. Since Pinto couldn't remember who he was, the nurse asked, "What do you do for a living?"
The unnerved Pinto sat bolt upright and with glassy eyes yelled: "Dammit! I spit for grasshoppers, grunt for pigs, belch for bugs and bark for dogs!" Whereupon he gave one of Pluto the Pup's most mournful howls.
The nurse, alarmed, signaled an SOS. A couple of doctors marched in and gave the supposedly delirious man a shot in the arm to keep him from getting violent.
Despite the nurse's bewilderment, it is doubtful if anyone else could give a more succinct or accurate summary of Colvig's strange occupation than he gave her. But he might have elaborated somewhat. For in addition to making unusual sounds, Pinto is also a pretty good actor, gag man, songwriter and the loudest E-flat clarinet "squeaker" who ever gave out with "Thunder and Blazes" from atop a circus bandwagon.
Supplying pops, phffts, belches, put-puts, sneezes, groans and yelps has now practically crowded the rest of Pinto's manifold activities out of the picture, but it started as just a screwy sideline. These sounds are made mostly with his lips and the occasional assistance of a battered old slide trombone. He makes the actual sounds with his lips, breath and voice, but uses the trombone to give the sounds a metallic timbre when necessary.
Pinto picked up the trombone years ago in a dingy Los Angeles pawnshop for two dollars. The other day he added up his check receipts and discovered that the venerable instrument has grossed him to date 22,200 dollars, sans a single note of music. Not a bad investment, he thinks, for two bucks. He keeps it in a leather case that cost him 28 dollars. In its handsome black case the instrument was stolen from a hotel lobby in Miami several years ago. Pinto was disconsolate. But two hours later the trombone was found on a pile of junk in a parking lot. The disillusioned thief apparently had opened the expensive case, taken one look at the dented trombone and thrown it away in disgust.
Despite its humble appearance, no less a personage than Leopold Stokowski once cringed before Pinto's trombone. The great conductor was being shown through the Disney studios by Walt Disney. Stokowski, a great Mickey Mouse fan, asked to see how the music and sound were put into the classical Silly Symphonies.
The maestro was perhaps a little puzzled when Pinto put in his appearance lugging a dented trombone in one hand and an old yellow clarinet in the other. But all became clear when Pinto gave a noisy rendition of Mickey Mouse taking off in an airplane and landing in a barnyard, winding up, of course, in a wild medley of farmyard animal noises.
After this performance Stokowski said politely: "Pardon me, but there is one thing that has been bothering me. That chain fastened to the trombone. I've never seen a trombone with a chain before."
"What's the idea of the chain?" echoed Pinto. "Say, I almost swallowed one of these darned things one time and I'm not taking any more chances."
Pinto was born Vance DeBar Colvig in the little southern Oregon hamlet of Jacksonville, the youngest of five children of a prominent country judge. [William Colvig was never a judge. The title "judge" was an honorific.] It was 1892, the era of William Jennings Bryan oratory and torchlight parades. In fact, parades were to be one of the chief influences in his life. By the time he was nine he was tootling an old yellow clarinet and marching energetically in the Jacksonville Silver Cornet band. A few years later, after Pinto had moved to the neighboring town of Medford, the circus came to town one day, and when it departed he went along as a clarinetist in the band. [Pinto joined the circus in Seattle, not Medford. He was 23 years old.]
For years he toured the country [Pinto only toured for brief parts of two seasons. See 1913 and 1915, above.] with the Al G. Barnes Big Three-Ring Wild Animal Circus and another circus by the resounding name of The Great American and Roman Circus and Carnival Companies, Incorporated. Circus musicians in those days were pretty serious about their playing. But not Pinto. Where the other musicians "straightened it out"--circus talk for getting in the groove--Pinto delighted in playing with a loose-lipped, slurring technique, really the forerunner of what was to become known as jazz. He never became famous as a virtuoso, but he won the name of the loudest E-flat clarinet "squealer" in circusdom. Looking back he says, "My music had the same effect on elephants that Frank Sinatra has on sweet young things."
The knowledge acquired in his years [sic] with the circus is what enables Pinto to imitate the sound of almost any jungle animal as well as the animal itself. Hollywood discovered this when Pinto supplied the jungle sounds for a movie back in 1930. One scene called for an elephant to trumpet in rage. Fortunately for Pinto, the indignant pachyderm refused to utter a sound. They prodded the beast with hooks, but he only blubbered sorrowfully. Finally, in despair, they summoned Pinto, who already had a budding reputation for producing strange sounds on short notice.
Pinto had never tried to make a noise like an elephant trumpeting, but he knew what it sounded like. He brought along his trombone and blew a blast.
"That'll never do!" exclaimed the director. "That's a trombone--not an elephant."
Pinto maintained stoutly that his trombone blast was an exact reproduction of an elephant's trumpet. Since the director had never heard an elephant even so much as sigh, the argument reached a stalemate.
Finally someone suggested they get the zookeeper and give him a blindfold test. The zookeeper closed his eyes and turned his back. The director signaled Pinto. He blew his very best blast with a flutter-tongue technique.
"Cripes!" yelled the zookeeper, jumping out of the way, "The elephants are stampedin'!" Pinto got the job.
Pinto fell into making sounds by accident after starting out in Hollywood as an actor in 1922. His first role was in Century comedies, filmed at Universal, featuring Jack Earle, the boy giant. Pinto played the role of a mummy. At first he wondered how he got the part so easily, but he quickly found out. No one else would take it. It took him two hours to put his makeup on and over three hours to take it off. And he practically had to give up breathing and such mundane matters while swathed in his cocoon-like makeup. About the time Pinto was wishing they would go ahead and bury him, a group of Englishmen discovered the tomb of King Tutankhamun in Egypt. The world immediately became King Tut-conscious. There were King Tut haircuts, King Tut frocks, a prizefighter named King Tut, and of course, King Tut movies.
Half the studios in Hollywood began a race to get out the first King Tut movie. But Universal Pictures had a head start. It had the comedy with Pinto as a mummy all ready to go, so they simply slapped on a new title, King Tut's Return, and released it.
As the original film King Tut, it looked for a time as though Pinto could make a career of playing mummies. However, he had found his mummy role too confining, so he gave up acting in favor of breathing again and took a job as a cartoonist at the Mack Sennett studio.
He'd been cartooning ever since the age of nine, when he developed an immense admiration for the Jacksonville carriage painter, a cheerful old souse who, even while deep in his cups and with bleary eye and shaking hand, could stripe a buggy spoke with the unerring stroke of a da Vinci. Spurred on by his unbounding admiration (he still says he's never seen anything like it), Pinto toiled at learning to draw and before long was interspersing cartooning with his clarinet playing. When the circus would go into winter quarters Pinto would lay aside his clarinet and knock about the country as a tramp newspaperman and cartoonist. [Pinto's two summer stints with circuses didn't last long enough for the circus to go into winter quarters; Pinto was never a "tramp newspaperman" nor a "tramp cartoonist."]
In 1916 Pinto stopped in one place long enough to marry Margaret Slavin of Portland, Oregon. Mrs. Colvig says that there is one thing about being married to a man like Pinto: she never worries if she wakes up at night and hears a strange noise in the house.
Shortly after their marriage, Mrs. Colvig persuaded Pinto to go to San Francisco and start experimenting with a couple of other young artists on a newfangled idea called animated cartoons. Such cartoons were still in the experimental stage and were used chiefly for advertising.
After several years of drawing animated cartoons, Pinto decided to pull up stakes and head for Hollywood. He started in Movietown as an actor, but soon got back to cartooning for Sennett. Finally Sennett fired him in an argument over what a louse looked like.
Not long afterwards sound pictures hit Hollywood, and that was all Pinto was waiting for. Since he was a cartoonist and could make more sounds than anyone else in town, he decided to combine the two and make sound cartoons. He quit everything else, dug up all the money he could and with Walter Lantz worked out one of the first animated cartoons in sound.
He worked six years for Disney, and Disney won the Academy Award all six years. In 1943 he moved over to Paramount, and that studio grabbed the award for Speaking of Animals, a short in which Pinto did all of the male animal voices other than singing.
Despite his strange occupation, Pinto lives a quite normal family life. He is one up on Bing Crosby in Hollywood's son derby, with five to his credit. Three of them are now in the service. His five sons are named Vance DeBar, Mason William, Byington Ford, Bourke Lyngae and Courtney X. When you ask him why he picked such sonorous names, he says: "Because they sound so much like a string of Pullman cars goin' by."
Just recently Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer had a scene calling for a tricky bit of trombone music, so they sent for Pinto.
"What we want," they explained, "is your very best rendition of 'Turkey in the Straw' on that so-called trombone."
"But why me," asked Pinto, "when you have dozens of good trombonists cluttering up the lot?"
"That's just the trouble," explained Musical Director Scott Bradley, "They're good. This scene calls for a bear to pick up a trombone and start tooting it. We figure that you play about the way a bear would sound."
Pinto was blushingly acknowledging this tribute to his art when his face suddenly fell. "I just remembered," he said, "that I don't belong to the musician's union."
A pall of gloom settled over the room. Then Bradley yelled, "Just a minute. Since when are you a musician?"
So, in a forthcoming M-G-M picture, for the first time since he lifted it from its dusty moorings in a pawn shop window, Pinto's famous slide trombone will actually be used as a trombone, playing real music.
Or maybe it would be safer to say a reasonable facsimile.
Coronet magazine, November 1944, pages 163-167
RKO Radio--"Snow White"
Many unique aspects to RKO Radio's campaign for its reissue of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" place that selling drive among leaders of the motion picture industry for 1944. Firstly it was one of the few times (if not the first time) in motion picture history in which all the resources of a major company's exploitation facilities were marshaled for the reissue of even an outstanding picture.
Working on the premise that a new audience had been created for this timeless masterpiece of Walt Disney's artistry, the company's exploitation department went after business with a combination of brand-new stunts and dependable old ideas, attacked in a new, refreshing manner.
The campaign started at the Grand Theatre, Cincinnati, on the heels of an intensive tie-up with radio station WLW of that city. Contests, personal appearances and the official cooperation of the states of Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and Indiana were involved. The governors of the four states issued official proclamations designating a special week as Snow White Week. The radio campaign included a series of broadcasts consisting of full-hour, half-hour, quarter-hour and five-minute programs running from three weeks prior to and during theatre engagements of the picture.
In each of the more than fifty theatres participating in the campaign, managers of the theatres conducted a special contest to select Miss Snow White of that particular area and the best local cartoonist or animator. The eventual Miss Snow White winner was crowned at a ceremony at the Variety Club in Cincinnati. The winning cartoonist and Miss Snow White went to Hollywood as guests of RKO Radio. Also, Miss Snow White made personal appearances in the theatres originally participating in the contest.
The coast studios cooperated with the exploitation department in its campaign by supplying Adriana Caselotti, the screen voice of Snow White; Clarence Nash, the voice of Donald Duck; Pinto Colvig, the voice of Pluto, Goofy and other Disney characters; with Dick Mitchell, chief animator of the Disney studios, who made a "chalk talk" on the stage during a four-state junket, preceding theatre dates of the picture. Seven midgets also made these appearances, costumed as the picture's Seven Dwarfs and wearing realistic rubber masks of the characters. The stage programs entailed forty-five minutes of dancing, singing, magic, acrobatics and comedy.
"Leading Exploitation Campaigns of 1944," Showmen's Trade Review, January 6, 1945, page 96
No other professor can be as proud of his students as is "Cap." Everett Moses, '17 in commerce, who is now rated as one of the leading bandmasters in the United States, and Gordon Finlay, '35 in education, who is now a solo cornet player for the U.S. navy band in Washington, D.C., are only two of the many whom he boasts about.
"Cap's" pride and joy, however, is Vance "Pinto" Colvig, '15, who now works for several different motion picture studios in Hollywood making peculiar noises for movie sound effects, and who formerly was a cartoonist for Walt Disney studios. It's "Pinto's" pictures that line the walls in "Cap" Beard's office.
Harvey Sachs, "By the Wayside with 'Captain' Beard," Oregon State College Barometer, February 6, 1945, page 2
Capt. Beard LaudedTo the editor: Last week, Oregon State College announced that Capt. Harry L. Beard had resigned after 40 years' service as band director. To the many Southern Oregonians who in past years had the privilege and pleasure as band members to play under his baton, as well as that of the late Wilson Wait, it brought a mixture of feelings that was similar in some detail to Wilson Wait's passing as a band director a few years ago.
We looked upon Capt. Beard as band director a "fixture" at Oregon State College, just as we did Wilson Wait as band director at Medford High School.
In their respective fields, as band leader at Oregon State College and at Medford High School, it seems that Capt. Beard and Wilson Wait fulfilled to a high degree the real mission of a successful instructor or teacher.
Wilson Wait and the writer were fellow members of the Medford school band organized in 1901, and along with "Pinto" Colvig in 1911 were Medford members of Capt. Beard's Oregon State College band. Besides being a member of the last-named band, Wilson Wait received private lessons from Capt. Beard on the cornet, and in band conducting.
No doubt if Wilson Wait was living at this time he would eulogize Capt. Beard as a man and band director, so that it would not be my lot to attempt to add to the praise for Capt. Beard coming from all parts of the state of Oregon, and from different sections of the United States.
Some of the other successful band directors who began their careers by playing in Capt. Beard's Oregon State College band are Capt. Thomas d'Arcy, Everett Allen Moses and Don Colvig. Capt. Thomas d'Arcy has for many years been director of the U.S. army band in Washington, D.C.
Moses was for several years the director of the large International Harvester band in Chicago.
Don Colvig, a brother of Pinto Colvig, former residents of Jacksonville and Medford, has for years had one of the outstanding bands in Northern California in his Weed, Calif., high school band. Pinto Colvig, while not a band director, but a former member of two of Capt. Beard's Oregon State bands, was for seven years ace cartoonist and in charge of sound for Walt Disney's Hollywood movie studios.
From some of the band directors named who began their band careers in Capt. Beard's Oregon State College band, the reader can readily draw his own conclusion that Capt. H. L. Beard's service of 40 years as band director at Corvallis effected and stimulated not only band music in the state of Oregon. It had its own part in raising the standard of band music in many different sections of the United States.
FRED L. STRANG.Medford Mail Tribune, October 9, 1945, page 6
Vance Colvig . . . handles the "Uncle Corny" spot in the ["Breakfast in Hollywood"] broadcast.
"He Likes Unusual Women's Hats--But Not Crazy Ones," Morning Star, Rockford, Illinois, February 13, 1946, page 9
The "dog" you've been hearing on the Bob Burns program is Pinto Colvig, who's an old hand at dog noises. For years he's been the voice of "Pluto" and "Goofy" in Disney cartoons. Recently he's done two albums of records with Margaret O'Brien in which he portrayed a goat, a troll and a big bear among other things. "And, believe it or not, I can talk, too!" adds Pinto.
Radio Life, June 23, 1946, page 25
The Dog's Best Friend
Is Noise-Maker Pinto Colvig, Who Portrays Most of the Dogs You Hear on Radio Programs,
Besides Almost Anything Else That Producers Dream Up
By B. J. Hammer
As you walk up Highland Avenue in Hollywood toward the Hollywood Bowl some evening you might pass by a house that seems to have a ferocious dog fight going on in the front room! Or the shriek of a werewolf, followed by horrifying screams, might issue from behind the front door! Don't call the police--you are just passing Pinto Colvig's house, and Pinto is probably auditioning over the phone for a radio producer.
Even in a town where unusual occupations are the rule, rather than the exception, Pinto's career is out of this world. He is a noisemaker deluxe for radio, films and records. You've heard him as Jack Benny's Maxwell, the hound in "Hound of the Baskervilles," a lion on the "Joan Davis Show," as Walt Disney's "Pluto," "Goofy, "Grumpy" (the dwarf in "Snow White"), and the "Practical Pig" in "The Three Little Pigs." For a "Command Performance" broadcast he even gave a practically perfect imitation of the Bronx subway train!
How in the world does a guy get started on a life of noise-making? Pinto smiled when we asked him--seems like everybody asks that. "I had my first taste of show business when I was about eight years old," he began, "and Verna Felton's responsible for that."
"You mean our Verna Felton?" we asked.
Nostalgia"Yes sir," exclaimed Pinto. "When I was a homely kid in the little tiny town of Jacksonville, Oregon, the biggest event of the year was the annual appearance of the Allen Stock Company featuring 'The Verna Felton Players.' Verna was about eight years old, too, and the prettiest little girl you ever saw. She was the star of the company, and all their plays were especially written around her. Well, I was as stagestruck and as starstruck as they come. I'd hang around the company, getting in everybody's way, trying to get in with them. Finally, to get rid of me, they actually gave me a part! Two lines. I had to run across the stage, holding on to a live cat, calling back to the wings, 'Duck it! Duck it!' and start to throw the cat down a well. At this moment, heroic Verna was to march up to me, tear the poor cat from my murderous grasp, while I exited, chastised.
"During the actual performance, spellbound at being before an audience and on the same stage with my ideal, I refused to let go of the poor cat, determined to draw the scene out as long as I could. Verna finally got it out of my grasp, but not before we'd tug-o'-warred over it so hard we nearly pulled it to pieces."
Many years later, at a Jack Benny rehearsal, one of the members of the cast started to introduce Pinto to a majestic-looking fellow member, "You know Verna Felton . . ." they began. "It was the first time I had seen Verna since she was eight years old," smiled Pinto. "I grabbed her by the hand and shouted, 'Do I know Verna Felton? Why she's responsible for my being in show business!' Of course, I totally forgot that Verna didn't have the slightest idea who I was. When I reminded her of the Jacksonville Opry House and the cat in the well, she remembered perfectly. 'Oh yes,' she said, 'that was in "The Power of Wealth"'."
Though supplying weird noises has just about crowded Pinto's other talents of the picture, he's found time to become known as co-writer of that deathless song, "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?"; he's been a story man and cartoonist at Disney's and most recently he's been featured on several Capitol record albums of children's stories with Margaret O'Brien. Last but not least, he's the loudest and corniest clarinet player in the country.
Circus LoverPinto left the University of Oregon just before graduation when the call of show business became too strong, and he joined up with the Al G. Barnes circus band. He still drops everything when the circus returns. This past season he played in the band while the show was in Los Angeles. Pinto's wife, Margaret, threatens to leave town next circus season. "When the circus is here, Pinto's never home," she sighed.
In spite of all this, Pinto leads a normal family life. He's the father of five talented and handsome boys, Vance Debar, Mason William, Byington Ford, Bourke Lingae and Courtney X. "Sound like a string of Pullman cars, don't they?" he laughed. Vance is known in radio as a gagman for Tom Breneman, writer and actor. "Gosh," said Pinto, "lately they're starting to refer to me as 'Vance Colvig's father'!" His son Bourke is a teacher at the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music and a fine classical musician and composer.
Pinto still claims that he hasn't made up his mind whether to be a musician, a cartoonist or an actor. His ambition is to get a part where he delivers lines like a real human being instead of an elephant, a mad dog, or what-have-you. "But when the phone rings," he sighed, "I know that it'll be somebody saying, 'Pinto, you do a penguin, don't you?'"
"Have you ever done anything serious in radio?" we wondered.
"Oh, yes," smiled Pinto. "On the 'Big Town' program I played a sad dog! It was a tearjerker about a little boy giving his dog to the service about the time that the war first started, and we were afraid that the audience would laugh in the middle of this very serious, dramatic scene, when I started whining and barking. So Ken Niles had me come out before the show started and I barked and whined and growled till the audience had all the laughs out of their systems. My first serious dramatic effort!" sighed Pinto in mock sadness. "That's why I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for Verna Felton. She, at least, gave me real lines to say!"
Radio Life, August 25, 1946, page 29
Best of LuckAccording to Pinto Colvig, radio specialist in funny noises and the voice of Disney's "Pluto" and "Goofy," the best luck in the world is yours if you own a hair from an elephant's tail. Ex-circusman Pinto carries one for good luck and strokes it three times before each performance. Other radioites who follow his custom are Verna Felton, "Rochester," Lillian Randolph and Sarah Berner. Sarah wears hers woven into a good luck ring.
Radio Life, September 22, 1946, page 28
Cap Waxes Look-Hear Circus Platter Book
Hollywood, Oct. 15.Capitol Records is going a step further than the book publishers' "pop-up" gimmick for kiddies, innovation being a sight-with-sound deal in merchandising moppet albums. Teeoff is "Bozo at the Circus," to be released for Yule trade, which is a virtual tour of a circus, employing voice of vet clown Pinto Colvig, with pix and descriptive literature making up a third of the two-record album.
Platters are pocketed in covers of album, and picture book takes up center. Disks feature Colvig conducting a "tour" through menagerie, for which animal sounds are dubbed in and beasts "speak." Bill May, trumpeter, fronts 40-piece band on background music, all specially composed. Allan Livingston wrote story.
Variety, October 16, 1946, page 50
In 1946 Alan Livingston joined Capitol Records in southern California with some fresh ideas for children's records. He talked over some of these ideas with Pinto, and Pinto explained, "I had five kids, you know, and I used to get mighty tired of listening to that same old stuff. They'd be playing those nursery rhyme records at 4:00 in the morning, sometimes.
"But before I really got into recording the Bozo records, I did an album with Margaret O'Brien called 'Billy Goat Gruff and the Trolls Under the Bridge.' And I did all the animal sounds for 'Old MacDonald's Farm' with the King Cole Trio. 'Bozo at the Circus' was the first Bozo album we cut."
Several of Bozo's original songs were written by Pinto: "Honkety Hank," "My Mule Charlie," "Bozo's Laughing Song," and "In Jingle Jungle Land." Bozo's other songs are by Alan Livingston and Billy May.
November 6, 1946 Racine Journal-Times
"A Brief History of Van De Bar Colvig," Southern Oregon Historical Society 1980, page 11
Noise Expert on Program
Howls, groans, barks, yelps and other assorted noises can be expected at a breakfast meeting of the third anniversary convention of the Commercial Benefit Insurance Company next Saturday in Hotel Adams.
They won't be by the insurance men, but the creations of rubber-faced Pinto Colvig, Hollywood sound maker and a Walt Disney cartoonist, who will demonstrate "Salesmanship" to the convention with sketches of Pluto, Mickey Mouse, the Three Little Pigs, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
His sketches will have sound effects, as Colvig is the voice of innumerable voices in Disney cartoons.
Pinto is Pluto the Pup, Goofy the Hick, Grumpy of the Seven Dwarfs, the "soul kiss" of Snow White, the Prince, Dopey's hiccups and the Practical Pig of the Three Little Pigs. He is the Hounds of the Baskervilles and the belch of the bugs. He is a New York subway and an Argentine bull. He is a train, a bay baler or a mosquito.
Colvig also does many things with his elastic face.
Arizona Republic, Phoenix, February 2, 1947, page 11
What Makes a Gag Man?
Frankly, We Don't Know. Here's the Case History of Vance Colvig,
Radio Gag Man and Actor. After Reading It Maybe You Can Tell Us (and Him)
By Betty Hammer
The first time we met Vance Colvig [junior], he blew into a restaurant where we were lunching, grabbed a waitress, waltzed her down the narrow aisle between the tables, barked like a dog, told her he was burning with mad desire for her, sat down and ordered a cup of coffee. A friend introduced us. Vance leered like Dracula, grabbed our arm, twisted it around his neck and shouted, "Leave me alone, I tell you," and, turning to the other diners, "She's crazy about me--won't leave me alone!"
By the time his coffee arrived and the waitress had nimbly eluded his clutches, we learned that, naturally, Vance was a gag man and radio actor, that his father was Pinto Colvig, gag man and radio actor, and that he always entered restaurants that way. Then, taking a spoon, he dipped it in and out of his coffee, holding the handle with both hands in the manner of a man rowing a boat and bassoed, "Ai yoock neeyem, ai yoock neeyem," in a pretty good rendition of the "Volga Boatman." He borrowed a cigarette from us with the words "No, thank you--never touch 'em," pretended to pound it into his forehead, pulled it out of his ear, stuck it under his lower lip, struck a match and made as if to light his nose. "Been smoking all my life and they never hurt me a bit," he exclaimed as he banged his knee reflex, rose in the air about two feet and emitted a cloud of smoke and a wheeze that sounded like a ship tearing away from its moorings. We learned that he always relaxed with coffee and a cigarette that way.
Calmed Down?Since that first meeting, we've gotten to know Vance rather well, and he no longer goes through quite such an elaborate routine. Now he merely bites us on the neck, tells us we have "dan-n-n-ncing eyes" and begs us to fly with him to San Luis Obispo.
Is Vance Colvig like this because he is a gag writer--or is he a gag writer because he's like this? We're inclined to think the latter. Many a gag man is a pretty Gloomy Gus who saves his humor for a paying job. Vance throws away many a hilarious routine on a group of strangers waiting at a bus stop, merely because he feels like entertaining anyone and everyone--occasionally even when they don't want to be entertained, but that's one of the hazards of the profession.
Or maybe it's inherited. His pop, Pinto, is a well-known cartoonist, gag man and the voice behind many a weird radio and cartoon effect. When producers call Colvig senior for a part he is unable to take because of a previous commitment, he usually refers them to Colvig junior and keeps the work in the family. Recently, the two worked together on the Frank Morgan show as the voice of "Baldy" the sheep dog (Pinto) and "Filbert" the gopher (Vance)--and in the Capitol record album, "Bozo and His Rocket Ship."
Vance has done the gags for Tom Breneman's "Breakfast in Hollywood" program for the past four years and has contributed laugh lines to the Jack Kirkwood show, Mel Blanc program, Kay Kyser's "College," and "Bride and Groom," in addition to his freelance work. He has barked for Asta, the dog in the "Thin Man" pictures, done voices for George Pal Puppetoons, played a pig on "Gildersleeve," a dog on the Dinah Shore show, a rooster on the Sinatra show and Japanese villains on "Pacific Story," among many other strange roles.
"I got my first part when I was six months old," he told us when we asked about his career. "It was a movie for Herbert Hoover's relief mission to Belgium during the last war, and it showed a poor little starving Belgian baby as contrasted with a laughing, fat, healthy American baby. I was the laughing, fat, healthy American baby." Kid roles in movies followed, and Vance supplied juvenile laughs in "Mickey McGuire" and "Buster Brown" comedies.
Can't Tell How ComeHow do you get to be a gag man? "I only wish I knew," is Vance's answer. Every time Breneman mentions Vance's name on the air, he receives letters from people who want to become gag men too. It makes him unhappy, because he'd like to be able to say the magic words that lead to radio, but he just doesn't know what they are.
If you who are reading this are incipient gag men, you'll say, "All right then, how did he get started?" And the not-very-glamorous answer is--working in the parking lot at NBC. He started buttonholing passing comedians and selling them gags as the poor fellows rushed to rehearsals. It was Kay Kyser who finally decided that the little guy who kept the boys in the parking lot and the big-time comedians laughing with his gags and antics might do the same for a nationwide audience. That's how one gag man latched on to radio, and that's the only way Vance knows about.
Of course Los Angeles City College helped. Our hero took radio and dramatics courses and graced the casts of "Merry Wives of Windsor," "Romeo and Juliet" and Gilbert and Sullivan's "Gondoliers" ("I played the title role--along with eleven other guys"). He also appeared in a collegiate musical, "Zis Boom Bah!," which was so professional it was booked into the Orpheum Theater and did a bit of touring. Movie star Jeanne Crain was an obscure cast member. Glamorous threesome on the campus in those days was Vance, Donna Reed and Alexis Smith! Vance further informed us that prior to his college days, radio prof Jerry Blunt had turned out such radio talent as writer True Boardman, Elliott Lewis and Mary Shipp, who is more widely known on the air as "Lady Esther"!
Gives PartiesVance lives in a fascinating little house perched dangerously high up in the Hollywood Hills. His front room contains shelves of books and records and a collection of original ceramics made by a prominent local artist. From the hillside he has gathered bamboo stalks and fashioned them into shades for his windows and porch. He enjoys doing his own cooking, and he'll make you a wonderful cup of coffee by grinding the beans in an old-fashioned coffee grinder. He holds an almost permanent open house and is always happy to welcome a friend (or ten) to sit and trade gags for an evening. He has a party almost every Saturday night, and the phone rings constantly with calls which usually say, "Vance, I'm coming up tonight but I'm with five other people, and . . ." "Swell! Bring 'em up," is the usual answer. Ill-assorted or congenial, he sets them all to playing "Indications," a particularly noisy game with intellectual overtones. Everyone becomes loud and friendly. Once Vance found Fred Beck in one of his Saturday night groups, but can't remember how he got there.
He likes screwball comedy the best and particularly enjoys writing for comedians of that type. His love of music and literature encompasses all types of the two expressions. He is a superb pantomimist and enjoys that particular talent in others. He has boundless enthusiasm and is tremendously encouraging to any expression of talent. His constant companion is a slightly insane red cocker spaniel called O'Malley in honor of the fairy godfather in the "Barnaby" comic strip. O'Malley, according to Vance, loves to chase and retrieve sticks, though he plays on a hillside abounding in rabbits. "If I throw a stick into the bush, O'Malley goes after it, out jumps a rabbit, and O'Malley happily reappears with his stick. Should I try throwing rabbits?" queries Colvig.
Radio Life, May 18, 1947, page 7
New platter being offered: "Pinto and His Funny Old Farm," with Pinto Colvig imitating 24 animals.
"Behind the Mike with William Moyes," Oregonian, Portland, May 22, 1947, page 20
The youngsters get a musical break in the newest of Capitol albums, "Bozo and His Rocket Ship." The four sides present "Pinto" Colvig and cast with music directed by Billy May. This is the first sequel to "Bozo at the Circus," and now Bozo takes the boys and girls on a tour of the world and visits many foreign lands. Bozo has a warmly human technique with interesting recorded appeal to adults as well as children. He brings out customs of many countries, some phrases of languages, and a number of humorous experiences.
Pictures in the album help visualize people and customs of each country. Colorful pictorial presentation contained in a 20-page booklet is coordinated with music and story on the records.
"Youngsters Get a Break in Album," Amarillo Daily News, September 19, 1947, page 25
Pinto Colvig Seen in Featured Role on Holly Screen
Several of Pinto Colvig's local friends of some 30 years ago were surprised Saturday night at the Holly Theater to view him in person among the many featured stars in the Paramount feature picture "Variety Girl."
Fred Strang, 416 South Central Avenue, recently received a letter from his old boyhood friend Pinto in Hollywood advising him if the Medford theaters book "Variety Girl" to watch out for "Romeow" the "dawg" who sings "grand opry" (that's me) with Mary Hatcher who does "Julicat." Pinto further stated he was also coming out as "Goofy" in Disney's "Fun and Fancy Free," and that he had just finished doing "the talking horse for Howard Hughes' "Diddlebock" picture with Harold Lloyd.
Pinto Colvig spent his boyhood in Jacksonville and Medford, and is a brother of Mrs. William J. Warner of 519 South Oakdale Avenue.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 22, 1947, page 7
I will be on the air as a guest (BOZO, The Clown) next Tuesday 13th--Jo Stafford's Chesterfield Cigarette Supper Hour. If you have a radio, tune in! I recently finished doing a lot of voices (and circus barker spiels) for Ken Murray in his bird picture, "BILL & COO" (which won a special Academy Award). I also helped him on the Mercury Record album, which turned out very good. Hope you get to hear 'em. Right now I am writing for him a 10,000[-word] story for publication--book from the picture story and am getting up another book--a picture book for kids to color etc. Last week I did 3 radio shows. A "guest" on one show called "Padded Cell" where I gave a series of fine and fancy snoring. On the other show I did a cat and a native . . . and also worked on Bing Crosby's radio show--with Bing and his 4 boys. I was their family "dog." We made the record last week, but the transcribed show will be on the air Apr. 21st (Philco Show).
Decorated envelope, postmarked April 5, 1948
Undated letter circa 1948 to Effie Birdseye, photocopy, SOHS vertical files
PINTO COLVIG TO TALK MONDAY AT LEGION LUNCHEON
Pinto Colvig, a local boy who made good in Hollywood, will be the speaker at the regular meeting of the American Legion luncheon club, Monday noon at the Legion Club.
Colvig, who has been signed for the radio program "Victor Moore Summer Show," is also making many recordings as well as doing freelance moving picture work. He rose to fame as an animal imitator in Disney cartoons. Some of his cartoons are on display in the Claude Saylor barber shop. Colvig is Bozo the Clown on a series of children's records he recently completed. He was a circus clown for several years after leaving here. [He was not.]
Colvig, who left here about 30 years ago, still refers to himself as a Jacksonville boy. The mention of his name always brings a smile to the faces of oldtimers as they recall many humorous incidents that always seemed to be happening when Pinto was around.
In O.S.C. BandSeveral local residents were classmates of Pinto when he played on the Oregon State College Band. Pinto still maintains that Claude Saylor's barber shop was Medford's first broadcasting station (before radio). Saylor remarked yesterday, "I'll never forget Pinto's yellow clarinet. It is the only one I've ever heard of or seen."
Colvig is visiting at the home of his brother-in-law and sister, Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Warner. Pinto's nephew, Gordon Warner, will be chairman of the luncheon meeting.
All old friends of Pinto are invited to attend the luncheon, which will start at 12 noon.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 9, 1948, page 9
COLVIG DESCRIBES EARLY BOYHOOD IN LEGION ADDRESS"Fifty years ago a mother in Jacksonville wrapped her newborn baby in a crazy quilt and well, here I am," was the opening sentence of a humorous talk by Pinto Colvig, of Hollywood, before the American Legion luncheon club Monday noon.
Colvig went on to describe himself at the age of 14. He said he had crossed buck teeth, a long turkey neck and an Adam's apple that kept jumping out of place. The wandering Adam's apple later proved to be a valuable asset. Colvig said he was so homely that the Jacksonville dogs barked at him so he learned to bark back in self-defense. His ability to bark came in handy when years later he was assigned the job of producing the sounds for Pluto in Disney cartoons.
For the moving picture, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," he created Grumpy, which he said "was a composite of all the old codgers in Jacksonville in the early days."
Colvig demonstrated the sounds of many of his characters; the most unusual was that of a baby mosquito calling its mother.
Colvig told the Legionnaires and their guests an experience of his small son when his teacher tried to find out something about the background of her student's parents. When she asked Pinto's son his father's occupation he said, "There ain't no name for him. Last week he was spitting for a grasshopper and next week he will be hatching an egg."
When Colvig was a boy here he played in the town band and after leaving home he traveled with a circus as a clown and a member of the band. He said, "One of the proudest moments in my life was in 1918 [sic] when I rode up Medford's Main Street on a circus band wagon."
It has been 14 years since Colvig has visited in Medford and he expressed surprised at the growth of the city.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 12, 1948, page 4
Vance Colvig, writer for the "Breakfast in Hollywood" broadcast, set up one of the best laughs the program ever had the other day. Just before the show went on the air emcee Garry Moore told Colvig that one of the jokes had to be rewritten. Colvig insisted the joke would get a laugh, to which Moore replied, "If that gets a laugh I'll eat it."
The show went on, and when the gag in question hit the audience it drew hilarious laughter. Moore glanced at Colvig on the sidelines and then dutifully tore the joke off the script and stuffed it into his mouth. After a couple of swallows, Garry turned to Colvig and said, "Why don't you start writing tastier jokes?"
Sacramento Bee, July 14, 1948, page 18
Cap Builds Bozo Via Air, VideoHOLLYWOOD, Sept. 4.--Bozo, Capitol's kidisk clown, is in for a popularization campaign via radio and video to build him into a top- notch children's character which would in turn pay off in increased Bozo platter sales.
Pinto Colvig, radio and pic voice personality who portrays Bozo on Capitol wax, has packaged his own radio and tele kiddie shows to be set for fall airing. In the meantime, Bozo has been getting his share of airshow plugs via guest appearances by Colvig on coast-to-coast radio broadcasts as well as local kiddie segs.
The Billboard, September 11, 1948, page 34
Cap's Ace Kidisk Peddler Set for Promotion Tour
CHICAGO, Oct. 9.--Capitol Records this week started an experimental buildup of its most consistent kidisk record seller, Bozo the Clown, in what is believed to be the first promotional personal appearance tour on the part of a moppet record favorite. Tour also is unique in that the Capitol try is for video shots for the ex-circus clown.
Bozo, whose real monicker is Pinto Colvig, worked until 1915 as a clown with a number of circuses, ending with the Al G. Barnes Circus. [Pinto did not work as a circus clown. See above.]
Bankrolled by Capitol, Colvig started his tour October 4 in Cleveland, where he did a show over WEWS, video outlet, with a video shot over WJJ-TV, Detroit, the following day, plus WGN-TV, Chicago, October 8, and the Midwest TV network October 9, with the program emanating from WENR-TV, Chicago. In addition to the 15-minute video shots, he worked at least two hospitals in each city plus several record stores and one or two d.j. shows. Ray Marchbanks, Midwest regional chief for Capitol, said he considered the TV appearances most important, for Colvig is an accomplished showman who works in greasepaint, which helps him on a tele shot. Colvig starts an Eastern swing October 10 in New York, where he'll remain about a week, with several video shots set plus an appearance on We, the People, web show.
Colvig, who already has four kid albums out for Capitol, is also being promoted through a syndicated comic strip, Bozo the Clown, being handled by Mickey Goldsen's Capitol Songs. The diskery is also merchandising a Bozo doll and intends to work out other deals with toy manufacturers for other pieces of Bozo merchandise. In addition, Capitol reported that it was readying tele and radio packages built around the flexible-voiced kid fave, who gives vocal impressions of a large number of animals and humans on his recordings.
Billboard, October 16, 1948, page 45
November 17, 1948 Oregonian
'Bozo' the Clown Will Serve as Marshal
for Portland's Annual Fairy Tale Parade
"Bozo the Clown," well known for his disc recordings and as a clown, cartoonist and voice caricaturist, has accepted an invitation to serve as grand marshal of Portland's annual fairy tale parade, according to Harry Pedersen, chairman of the Portland Retail Trade Bureau's parade committee. A telegram from "Bozo" in Hollywood said he would be "proud and happy" to serve.
It will be somewhat of a "homecoming" for "Bozo" when he arrives to lead the parade at 10 a.m. Friday, November 26, for he was born Vance de Bar Colvig, in Jacksonville, Or. He was the youngest of seven children born to Judge and Mrs. William M. Colvig. In school days his rather imposing first name was changed to "Pinto" because of his freckles, and as "Pinto" he later became well known as a cartoonist.
While attending Oregon State College, where he played clarinet in the band and did "chalk talks" between concert numbers, Colvig was booked by a scout for the Pantages vaudeville circuit for a "chalk talk" act on the road. In 1913 he joined the Al G. Barnes circus band and added clowning to his clarinet tootling. Later he was cartoonist on the Nevada Rockroller in Reno, and on the Carson City Daily News, but when the Barnes circus came to town "Pinto" couldn't resist a chance to get on the road again.
Colvig gave up circus life when he married Margaret Slavin and moved to San Francisco, where he pioneered in work on the newly created animated cartoons. The Encyclopedia Britannica credits him with making the first animated cartoon in color, "Pinto's Prizma Comedy Review," in 1919. Colvig later joined the San Francisco Bulletin staff as cartoonist, and in 1922 moved to the Chronicle there, where he originated "Life on the Radio Wave" for United Features Syndicate.
"Pinto's" next venture, having moved with his wife and four sons to Hollywood, was as gag man, title writer and actor in Mack Sennett and Buster Brown comedies. With the advent of sound in motion pictures he returned to cartooning, originated "Bolivar, the Talking Ostrich," and supplied vocal effects for animated cartoons. He was the "voice" of Pluto and Sleepy and Dopey, Grumpy and Sleepy [sic] in Walt Disney's "Snow White." On the radio he simulated Jack Benny's wheezing, coughing old Maxwell.
Since leaving Disney "Pinto" has been doing the "Bozo" record album for Capitol.
Oregonian, Portland, November 17, 1948, page 20
November 19, 1948 Seattle Times
Bozo Is Clown, Even to His Wife--She Likes It!
By DON MAGNUSON
Clowning has been the lifetime career of Vance DeBar Colvig--known to millions of record fans as Bozo the Clown--but this morning Colvig looked like any other guy who had just been rousted out of bed in a hotel room in a strange city.
At the moment, Colvig didn't look like a clown at all.
But there were Bozo's 14-inch shoes under the bed, and there in an open wardrobe trunk were wigs and costumes. Then Colvig agreed to "mug" a bit for photographs, and it was Bozo, all right.
The clown of many voices and many laughs, a story-telling favorite on children's records, is on a personal appearance tour of the Pacific Coast from his home in Hollywood.
Clown Even at Home
Colvig had his wife with him, a charming, gray-haired woman who is a semi-invalid, and it was a wonderful opportunity to find out what a clown does when he isn't clowning.
"Well, he clowns a lot at home, too," Mrs. Colvig smiled. "Sometimes I wonder what the neighbors must think, with all the strange noises coming out of our house."
Mr. and Mrs. Colvig had five sons while hoping for a daughter, and recently added a grandson while hoping for a granddaughter.
"We'll get that granddaughter yet, though," Mrs. Colvig said confidently. "Two of our sons are married, and another will be soon."
Two Sons in Reserve
It deed seem the odds were in their favor at that. Especially with two sons still in reserve.
It was good to see the easy camaraderie and quiet devotion between this man and his wife. And it was easy to sense that of all the people who think Bozo the Clown is funny, his wife thinks him the funniest.
She sat there and beamed while Colvig hammed a bit for a photographer, and when he played one of the records she laughed and laughed, although there was no doubt she'd heard it a few thousand times before.
Bozo the Clown has a great love for children, and will give a generous share of his time to them while he is in Seattle. He appeared at Children's Orthopedic Hospital and the Seattle Children's Home this afternoon and will visit the Washington Children's Home and St. Stephen's Episcopal Church this evening.
Colvig will be in Frederick & Nelson's record section, on the store's fourth floor, from 10 o'clock to noon tomorrow. He will autograph his records and books.
Mrs. Colvig said, a trifle wistfully, that it was great fun to be trouping with her husband, although she's not "show folks" herself.
As for that little granddaughter, when she does arrive, she's in for a gay life.
Mrs. Colvig said a little Hollywood girl named Toby, a neighbor of the Colvigs, was visiting them when the child's mother arrived to take her home to dinner.
Toby resisted forcibly, clinging to a Colvig door knob. "Don't take me home," Toby wailed: "They spoil me here."
Seattle Daily Times, November 19, 1948, page 20
November 25, 1948 Oregonian
SUNDAY, JANUARY 20--"Bozo's Circus," KTTV (Channel 11), 7:30 p.m. (30 min.) The second week of the series starring Pinto Colvig in the role of "Bozo, the Clown" features "Pokey" as the comic ringmaster-stooge, Swami Sing Pue and Josephine the Monkey with Gabriel, the Organ Grinder. Show features include an impromptu birthday party for an audience member, and logging in the weekly "Book of Merit" for outstanding Los Angeles youths.
Radio and Television Life, January 30, 1949, page 15
Tex Ritter has inked Bozo the Clown (Pinto Colvig) for his rodeo and folk music show. Bozo, the Capitol platter kiddie favorite, has been appearing on video via KTTV, Hollywood.
Johnny Sippel, "Folk Talent and Tunes," Billboard, April 16, 1949, page 42
Favorite on Records--
Show Has Bozo the Clown
For the first time on a national personal appearance tour, Bozo the Clown, well known to children via his record albums, is coming with Tex Ritter's Wild Brahma Bull Cage of Death and Western Revue to the Community Ball Park on May 15, 17 and 18.
"Bozo's" full name is Vance De Bar Colvig. He was born in Jacksonville, Ore. to Judge and Mrs. William M. Colvig, the youngest of seven children, has been in turn a circus clown, comic musician, newspaper and syndicated cartoonist, songwriter, movie actor and voice caricaturist.
Before taking over the "Bozo" role, he gained renown with the Walt Disney Studios as the voice of such characters as Pluto the Pup, Dopey, Grumpy and Sleepy of "Snow White," and many others.
The Oxnard Police Boys Club will share in the proceeds.
Oxnard Press Courier, May 7, 1949, page 2
May 7, 1949 Oxnard Press Courier
One of the stars of the show is Vance DeBar Colvig, better known as Bozo, the clown. Bozo is on his first national appearance tour. His record albums as Bozo are a favorite among children. Before he adopted his Bozo routine, he worked for Walt Disney as a voice for some of the leading Disney characters.
"Highway Patrol Sponsors Rodeo at Delano Sunday," Bakersfield Californian, May 21, 1949, page 2
September 1949 Radio Mirror
December 17, 1949 Madison, Wisconsin State Journal
COLVIG--Mrs. Margaret, 57, wife of Vance (Pinto) Colvig, voice of Capitol Records' Bozo the Clown kidisk series, August 31 in Los Angeles. Besides her husband she leaves five sons, Vance Jr., Courtney, Byington, Bourke and William. Burial in Holy Cross Cemetery, Los Angeles.
"The Final Curtain," Billboard, September 9, 1950, page 63
April 1, 1951 Hutchinson, Kansas News Herald
The second former Oregon Stater making good in Hollywood is "Pinto" Colvig, '16, who is known professionally as "Bozo, the Capitol Clown." A star of radio, screen and television, he is also a noted cartoonist. "Bozo" is the featured character in nine of Capitol's children albums and record readers. Colvig, a former athletic personality at Oregon State, was featured several years ago in the Mack Sennett cartoons [sic]. He was "Baldy," the English sheep dog, on the Frank Morgan "Fabulous Doctor Tweedy" radio show for a year with Z. Wayne Griffin, who produced the show. At that time, however, neither Griffin nor Colvig knew that each was an Oregon State College graduate.
A personality feature on "Bozo" will appear in the October 1 issue of the Oregon Stater alumni magazine.
"Oregon Staters Winning Fame in Hollywood," Corvallis Gazette-Times, August 16, 1951, page 1
Bozo, Famed OSC Alum, to Clown at Homecoming
Acclaimed as "Oregon State's Most Mirthful Product" is Pinto Colvig, '14, better known as "Bozo, the Capitol Record Clown," who will be a leading attraction during 1951 Homecoming festivities.
This talented and versatile radio, television and movie character is most widely known for his role as "Bozo," although his list of accomplishments are many. In the role of Bozo, he has made dozens of kiddie records for Capitol. Most of his time now is spent in radio, television, movies, musical comedy, vaudeville and personal appearance tours all over America, where his unusual voices cause much attraction from persons of all ages.
Colvig Experimented in Cartoons
Colvig's accomplishments include some of these:
(1) He is accredited by the Encyclopaedia Britannica as having made the first colored animated cartoon for Prizma-Selznick Pictures.
(2) He has appeared with all of the animated cartoon companies (mainly Disney's).
(3) He authored the original lyrics for "Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf" and "The World Owe Me a Livin'," and many others.
(4) During the silent movies and custard pie era he was with Mack Sennett Comedies, plus all the others of that period.
In recent Disney cartoons, Colvig was the "voice" for the third practical pig in the Three Little Pigs; Grumpy in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; Pluto the Pup, Goofy the nitwit, and Gabby the Town Crier in Paramount's Gulliver's Travels.
"Bozo" Is Skilled on Clarinet
A former member of the Oregon State College band when the late and famed Captain Harry Beard was director, Pinto uses his "licorice stick"…clarinet to you…in many of his acts and promises to bring it along when he returns to Homecoming so that he may play in the band. A few years ago at their annual get-together of the Kappa Kappa Psi International Music Fraternity at Corvallis, Captain Beard and the others at that time made Pinto an honorary member of the group.
A native of Jacksonville and Medford, Oregon, Colvig was a campus cartoonist while at "OAC," and examples of his work may be seen in the Beaver yearbooks (called the Orange at that time) of the years 1912 and 1913. Before going to Hollywood, he was an editorial cartoonist for Nevada and California newspapers.
Colvig to Appear at Game
Returning to the campus at the invitation of the Oregon State Alumni Association, "Bozo" will make local radio station and record shop appearances as well as performing at the Friday night Midnight Show and during halftime of the OSC-Washington State football game.
Oregon State College Barometer, October 6, 1951, page 1
Clown to Fete Kiddies
Bozo, the Capitol record clown, will be at Joske's record department Wednesday and Thursday to entertain, autograph and give free gifts to the kiddies.
Bozo in real life is Pinto Colvig. Bozo has been gag writer and performer for Mack Sennett comedies and in 1929 joined the Walt Disney enterprises, where he remained 12 years.
Pinto created the voices for such characters as "Pluto the Pup," "Three Little Pigs" and was one of the writers of "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf." He was the voice of "Grumpy" in "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and dozens of other Walt Disney characters.
One of his featured radio performances was to imitate the Maxwell auto on the Jack Benny radio show.
He is the father of five sons, two of whom are prominent in the radio broadcasting industry. His greatest hobby is meeting people, particularly children. He has appeared in hundreds of hospitals and orphanages.
San Antonio Light, November 7, 1951, page 6
December 6, 1951 Forest Park, Illinois, Review
Noted Clown Tests Talent on His Four Grandchildren
By ROWLAND BOND
Bozo the Clown, the Danny Kaye of the small-fry set, is a visitor in Spokane today.
The man who signs hotel registers Pinto Colvig said he is enjoying his 46th year in the show business.
He said the two principal items of business here will be to meet with dealers who sell his popular phonograph recordings and to entertain youngsters at the Shrine Hospital and children's homes.
Visited in 1913"I was here in 1913 with the Al G. Barnes circus," he said. "I was a musical clown and also played E-flat clarinet in the regular band.
"All my life I've been in the show business, and I've always enjoyed being around kids. I guess that's how I happened to get into making records for children.
"I've got five boys, and they're all in the show business except the youngest. He's 21 and in the Air Force. My severest critics are my three grandsons and a granddaughter. I go on the supposition that what they like, other kids will like."
A shadow flitted across Bozo's face under the greasepaint as he mentioned the death of his wife, who died in 1950 after a marriage that lasted 35 years.
"She wasn't in the show business herself, but she didn't seem to mind seeing her husband and five sons in the business," he said. "That speaks pretty well for her sense of humor."
Before he went in for phonograph records Bozo worked for years in the Walt Disney productions. He was the voice of Grumpy in the "Seven Dwarfs," the practical pig in "Three Little Pigs," also Goofy and Pluto the Pup.
A native of Jacksonville, Ore., Bozo recalled the first time he ever put on the white greasepaint of the clown. He said that was at the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in Portland back in 1905.
Spokane Daily Chronicle, December 8, 1951, page 3
Bozo the Clown Weds.
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 5. UPI--Bozo the Clown, known outside the entertainment world as Vance de Bar Colvig, and Mrs. Peggy Bernice Allaire were married Friday. They met a year ago. It was the second marriage for each. He is 59, his bride 43.
Times-Picayune, New Orleans, January 6, 1952, page 5
TV Clown Marries
HOLLYWOOD, Calif., Jan. 5--Vance DeBar Colvig, 59, television's Bozo the Clown, and his bride, Mrs. Peggy Bernice Allaire, 43, honeymooned here today.
The Pittsburgh Press, January 5, 1952, page B1
BOZO TAKES PARTNER--Bozo the Clown, otherwise known as Vance DeBar Colvig, 59, was married in Hollywood to Mrs. Peggy Bernice Allaire, 43. It was the second marriage for each.
"News Front," Oakland Tribune, January 5, 1952, page 3
Kidisk promotion out of New York will now be handled by James Chapin, who has been employed by Capitol for the past few years for the Bozo exploitation campaign in the East. Chapin has been the Eastern stand-in for Pinto Colvig, the actual Bozo, and has also worked on other children's campaigns.
"Cap Continues Staff Shifting," Billboard, February 9, 1952, page 26
BOZO SETS MARK IN BB CHARTSNEW YORK. Feb. 7.--The Capitol Records album "Bozo at the Circus," hit the Weekly Billboard Best Selling Children's Record Chart for the 201st time this week, the longest run of any platter since the charts began. The kiddie set hit the children's best-selling charts the first week the charts were started back in 1948. The album has been out for six years.
The Billboard, February 14, 1952, page 15
$2,000,000 on Capitol's Bozo
By BOB ROLONTZNEW YORK, Feb. 7.--Capitol Records' Bozo (the Capitol clown) products, which range from a variety of toys and balloons to phonographs and lamps, racked up sales of close to $2,000.000 on the retail level in 1952. This is the highest figure to date on sales of the Bozo merchandise since the firm started to license products based on its children's record character back in 1949. The large increase in sales of Bozo merchandise can be attributed to the fact that in 1952, for the first time, Capitol Records Distributing Corporation actively campaigned to sell many of the Bozo products to record shops. The increase is also traceable to the growing importance of Bozo as a personality in the kiddie field.
The remarkable fact concerning the continuing growth saleswise of the Bozo merchandise is that Bozo the Clown is the first kiddie character ever built solely via the medium of records. The Bozo character was first introduced on the market in 1946 via the Capitol album "Bozo at the Circus," created and written by Alan Livingston, now veepee of the diskery's a.&r. division, then in charge of the kiddie department. The first Bozo set has sold over 800,000 to date and is expected to pass the 1,000,000 mark before the year is out. This was the first of the record readers and is undoubtedly one of the biggest-selling waxings ever released in the kiddie field. The total sale to date of all Bozo disks, which comprise six record readers and four single platters, is 5 to 6,000,000 records.
15 ProductsSince Capitol licensed the first Bozo-inspired product back in 1949 to the Whitman Publishing Company to put out a Bozo coloring book, Bozo licensees have grown during the past three years to 15 and the number of products has zoomed to over 100. In addition, Capitol Records is now working on a Bozo pilot film for TV as the tee-off of a Bozo TV series.
Capitol Records had little idea of the potentialities of the Bozo character when the first Bozo album was released in 1946. Livingston created his character for one album, and then decided to continue the series when the sales of the set started to boom. In 1949, when manufacturers came to the diskery to ask Capitol for permission to manufacture Bozo products, the firm realized that Bozo was a clown in name only.
Early in 1949 Capitol set up a licensing department to handle Bozo products. At about the same time Capitol started the Bozo-approved Seal for its various kiddie sets, since the name Bozo by that time had taken on a profound significance in the field. Capitol also started to manufacture a Bozo phonograph for the younger set as well. From Bozo coloring books and dolls, the Bozo products now include balloons, decals, puppets, blocks, comic books, tablecloths and napkins, paper plates and cups, picture puzzle books, lamps, plastic-framed pictures, performing dolls, squeeze-me dolls, cloth dolls and the three phonographs.
Under Arthur Duncan, who now heads the Products Licensing Division of Capitol Records, as well as being merchandise manager for Capitol accessories, Capitol Records had its distributors take on more and more of the toy line to sell to dealers. About 30 to 40 percent of all Bozo products are sold thru the distrib organization to dealers, with the rest handled by toy jobbers directly to toy stores and chain stores. The diskery has discovered that Bozo toys are well received by dealers because they sell on their own and because they help to sell more kiddie records, since they add much display value to the firm's Bozo and Bozo-approved kidisks.
Comic BooksAs an indication of the present importance of Bozo in the kiddie field, the Dell Publishing Company runs off 750,000 copies of the Bozo Comic Book every quarter. This is considered a very substantial initial run for the comic book field.
All of the Bozo products, except the record readers, the records and the phonographs, are manufactured by outside firms, licensed on a royalty basis by Capitol Records. Sometimes the diskery will seek a manufacturer to develop a product it has conceived for Bozo license, but usually manufacturers come to Capitol with their ideas, and the diskery works with the manufacturer until all details are set.
Live BozosThere are live Bozos in the Capitol firm too as well as the record Bozo. Capitol Records, the only major diskery with a toy line, also is the only major diskery with two clowns on the payroll and over 100 clown suits on hand. Pinto Colvig on the West Coast, who also plays Bozo on disks, and Jimmy Chapin on the East Coast are the Capitol clowns, who appear before Parent-Teachers Associations, in theaters and in schools. The clown suits are worn by various personnel whenever a Bozo clown is called for from one of the distributing branches. Capitol has a complete operating procedure laid down for anyone who plays Bozo, and no man is permitted to wear the uniform unless he is both conscientious and sober. Capitol Records has raised the business done by Bozo products from 2 percent of its gross business a few years ago, to nearly 5 percent of gross business last year. The firm hopes to raise it to 10 percent by the end of 1953. The diskery intends to go on a strong drive to sell more Bozo products, since the profit margin on these items is comparatively high.
Decorated envelope, postmarked March 4, 1952
Story of Bozo, 100G Investment in a ClownThe children aren't the only happy ones. The jolly laughter of Bozo the Capitol Clown has guffawed his way, too, into the hearts of many a record executive. Almost six years ago, Bozo opened the way to a new and lucrative field of activity for the industry, and today children's record sales total millions annually.
Phenomenal Bozo is still the only children's favorite to have been expressly created for records. His success has been all the more remarkable because it was the work of a johnny-come-lately among record companies.
The lively spirit of the enterprise was personified in the man who headed it--Alan Livingston, now Capitol's a.&r. chief. When he joined Capitol in 1946 to prepare a children's library, he was completely without recording experience, but was backed by the confidence of Glenn Wallichs, then executive vice-president of the company.
Livingston wisely preserved the freshness of his approach. He concentrated on the nub of the problem--the sounds that are funny and appealing to kids. He sought a situation in which he could embody those sounds without all the adult restrictions of reasonableness.
Talking animals, he decided, were the ideal medium. A circus seemed the happiest locale for the creatures, and a clown would be the most likely character to link their voices.
Adds the Book AlbumNew to the record business, Livingston particularly felt the limitation of entertainment by sound alone, and here again his unconventional approach paid off. It occurred to him that the records could be supplemented visually, and he hit upon the idea of an illustrated book-album whose pages would be turned by the child in response to a familiar circus whistle, timed to coordinate with the disks.
This was the inception of Bozo. It took 10 months and an initial investment of $100,000 to complete the project. In every respect, it was a conscientious attempt to make the best children's album possible. Pinto Colvig, an ex-clown with a warm, infectious laugh, was selected for the title role. Billy May tackled the musical assignment with enthusiasm and imagination. Livingston listened to every radio actor in town before he chose his lions, tigers, hyenas, and hippopotami. The final recording session, an immensely complicated affair that had to proceed without any of the benefits of present-day magnetic tape techniques, took seven and a half hours.
It was an unprecedented effort and it paid off in unprecedented fashion. "Bozo at the Circus" has been followed by seven other Bozo albums, with aggregate sales in the millions. But more than that, it gave the go-ahead cue to Capitol for an extensive program of children's albums. Livingston went on to write and produce "Rusty in Orchestraville," a fantasy of speaking instruments, and to secure and use the recording rights to an impressive string of film-born children's characters, including "Bugs Bunny," "Woody Woodpecker," "Tweety Pie" and many from Walt Disney. Their public acceptance was so great that, within three years, Capitol albums, all written or produced by Livingston, constituted 70 percent of national sales in the children's market.
Merchandise Pays OffToday, that percentage has fallen off only because the market itself has grown too tremendous for one company to dominate. Capitol has derived new income from the exploitation of the Bozo name on items such as dolls, games, clothing, toys and books, and it has added important new children's stars, such as Hopalong Cassidy, to its artist roster.
Capitol surveys indicate that 80 percent of children's records are bought for the three-to-seven-year-old. Psychologists explain that it is between these ages that the child's preference is for entertainment that can be repeated. One parent even wrote to say that he'd already bought and worn out 12 "Bozo at the Circus" albums--all for the same child.
The Billboard, August 2, 1952, pages 63 and 74
Not content with the success already achieved, Capitol opened a new and highly lucrative field with the introduction of "Bozo," the Capitol clown. Today, children's record sales total millions annually. Allan Livingston, who was brought into the firm for the express purpose of a children's library, was completely without recording experience. However, Livingston, now Capitol's A&R chief, had a freshness of approach and definite ideas as to how the problem should be dealt with. He concentrated on funny sounds and situations that need not necessarily make sense to the adult. Deciding that talking animals were a natural medium, it followed logically that the circus was the proper setting for the animals. From that point, a circus setting naturally brought in a clown. Thus was born the fabulous "Bozo," whose fame has become as widespread as Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny. After an expenditure of $100,000 and ten months of planning, in which every radio actor in town was auditioned by Livingston for the voices of the animals, the session was set. Pinto Colvig, an ex-clown, was selected for the role of Bozo, and Billy May handled the musical assignment. The actual recording was a complicated affair that took more than seven hours. The rest is history. "Bozo at the Circus" became the biggest-selling item in the children's field. Seven other "Bozo" albums followed, and the total sales are in the millions. In addition to the highly profitable record sales Capitol found itself with a new source of income through the exploitation of the Bozo name on items such as clothing, toys, dolls, games and books.
"Capitol Completes Ten Years of Hit Making," The Cash Box, September 13, 1952, page 14
Cap Kid Fave Sells 2,300,000 RecordsHOLLYWOOD, Nov. 8.--Bozo the Clown, the Capitol Records kidisk best seller, celebrated his sixth anniversary as a moppet favorite by passing the 2,300,000 sales mark, which the Hollywood diskery believes is a current and probably all-time high in the disk biz. Capitol consistently has led The Billboard's best-selling children's records' chart for the past four years since it was inaugurated, and Lloyd Runn, Cap v.-p., reports that Bozo is the firm's leading sales item on the tot side.
Figures compiled to August 31, 1952, indicate that Bozo albums and single packages have sold 2,277,000. With September and October as two of the top buying months of the year, Cap feels that the disks have added at least 50,000 in the past two months.
The first Bozo album hit the market around the end of October, 1946, and coincidentally, was the first completed kidisk assignment by Alan Livingston, now v.-p. in charge of a.&r. for the Wallichs waxery. Livingston said he got the idea for a Bozo series from recalling his days as a kid with a wind-up phonograph. Because only adult records were available, Livingston said he used to take adult records and spin them at different speeds by putting his finger alongside the turntable and getting weird sounds from the disks. Feeling that moppets would go for something different, standard nursery rhymes and p.d. stories in 1946, he decided that albums of talking animals would be something different in children's fare. First he thought of using a zoo as focal point for the stories, but later decided upon a circus format. Needing an emcee or narrator to do the straight talk, he decided upon a clown. He said that the name "Bozo," was selected from a list of clown names.
The first album effort by Livingston, "Bozo at the Circus," is today and probably will continue to be the top kidisk seller of all time, for it's sold 560,000 in six years. Since that time, five more albums with record readers and three illustrated sleeve packages have been released. The latest, "Bozo Has a Party," did 50,000 since its release in mid-August.
The Bozo merchandise tie-ins number approximately 40 different items, ranging from a $10 Bozo doll to a 25-cent package of balloons. Capitol is continually promoting the Bozo series thru Bozo parties and exploitation appearances in record stores and theaters. Jim Chapin, New York, and Pinto Colvig, Hollywood, are permanent members of the Cap payroll, doing nothing but Bozo personals. In addition, three other men are utilized part-time in making Bozo engagements. Dell Publishing Company has had a Bozo and Sparky comic book on the market for the past two years.
The Billboard, November 15, 1952, page 20
Entertaining of Youngsters Held Bozo's Chief Interest
LEWISTON, Idaho, Dec. 5.--"Entertaining children is my vocation and greatest source of enjoyment," said the greasepaint to the mirror yesterday.
"The adults, with all their cosmopolitan airs, seem to enjoy my work, too, and I've been told by my doctor that I am good for the liver--better in fact than castor oil--since laughing is good for that organ."
Speaking was Vance DeBar Colvig I, who is more familiarly known to millions of people throughout America as Bozo, the Capitol Clown.
Circus Called in '05He has been cutting up for folks since 1905, when he joined the circus. Since that time he has led a varied career which is just reaching its peak--at the age of 60.
In 1916 he married and began drawing newspaper cartoons in San Francisco, and in 1922 he moved to Hollywood and went to work for Mack Sennett in the old two-reelers.
In 1930 he signed a contract with Walt Disney and did many of his most famous character voices, including Goofy, Pluto the Pup, Grumpy, Sleep and Dopey in "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," and one of the "Three Little Pigs." In his spare time, he composed such music as "The World Owes Me a Living."
In 1946, Colvig, known to friends as Pinto, became Bozo, the Capitol Clown, and since that time, more than 5,000,000 of his records have been sold. He also does television shows.
"Married for 37 happy years," he smiles. "I have five sons, five grandchildren, and a dog with five fleas."
Bozo put on two shows in Lewiston yesterday, and it took him more than one hour to make up to please his young audience, changing from a somewhat serious, thin gentleman of polite air to a smiling, happy clown of somewhat dubious character.
You might laugh at him, but you wouldn't sit on a chair offered by him without investigating the seat.
Spokane Daily Chronicle, December 5, 1952, page B3
Bozo, the famed clown, favorite of children and adults alike, the renowned Pinto Colvig from Los Angeles, will be on hand at the concession arena throughout the festivities to amuse kiddies. He will be there from tomorrow right through Sunday.
"Rodeo to Open July 4 Fete," San Mateo Times, July 1, 1953, page 2
BOZO SETS MARK IN BB CHARTS
NEW YORK, Feb. 7.--The Capitol Records album "Bozo at the Circus" hit the Weekly Billboard Best Selling Children's Record Chart for the 201st time this week, the longest run of any platter since the charts began. The kiddie set hit the children's best-selling charts the first week the charts were started back in 1948. The album has been out for six years.
Billboard, February 14, 1953, page 15
$2,000,000 on Capitol's Bozo
By BOB ROLONTZ
NEW YORK, Feb. 7.--Capitol Records' Bozo (the Capitol Clown) products, which range from a variety of toys and balloons to phonographs and lamps, racked up sales of close to $2,000,000 on the retail level in 1952. This is the highest figure to date on sales of the Bozo merchandise since the firm started to license products based on its children's record characters back in 1949. The large increase in sales of Bozo merchandise can be attributed to the fact that in 1952, for the first time, Capitol Records Distributing Corporation actively campaigned to sell many of the Bozo products to record shops. The increase is also traceable to the growing importance of Bozo as a personality in the kiddie field.
The remarkable fact concerning the continuing growth saleswise of the Bozo merchandise is that Bozo the Clown is the first kiddie character ever built solely via the medium of records. The Bozo character was first introduced on the market in 1948 via the Capitol album "Bozo at the Circus," created and written by Alan Livingston, new veepee of the diskery's A.&R. division, then in charge of the kiddie department. The first Bozo set has sold over 800,000 to date and is expected to pass the 1,000,000 mark before the year is out. This was the first of the record readers and is undoubtedly one of the biggest-selling waxings ever released in the kiddie field. The total sale to date of all Bozo disks, which comprise six record readers and four single platters, is 5 to 6,000,000 records.
15 ProductsSince Capitol licensed the first Bozo-inspired product back in 1949 to the Whitman Publishing Company to put out a Bozo coloring book, Bozo licensees have grown during the past three years to 15 and the number of products has zoomed to over 100. In addition, Capitol Records is now working on a Bozo pilot film for TV as the tee-off of a Bozo TV series.
Capitol Records had little idea of the potentialities of the Bozo character when the first Bozo album was released in 1946. Livingston created his character for one album, and then decided to continue the series when the sales of the set started to boom. In 1949, when manufacturers came to the diskery to ask Capitol for permission to manufacture Bozo products, the firm realized that Bozo was a clown in name only.
Early in 1949 Capitol set up a licensing department to handle Bozo products. At about the same time Capitol started the Bozo-approved Seal for its various kiddie sets, since the name Bozo by that time had taken on a profound significance in the field. Capitol also started to manufacture a Bozo phonograph for the younger set as well. From Bozo coloring books and dolls, the Bozo products now include balloons, decals, puppets, blocks, comic books, tablecloths and napkins, paper plates and cups, picture puzzle books, lamps, plastic-framed pictures, performing dolls, squeeze-me dolls, cloth dolls and the three phonographs.
Under Arthur Duncan, who now heads the Products Licensing Division of Capitol Records, as well as being merchandise manager for Capitol accessories, Capitol Records had its distributors take on more and more of the toy line to sell to dealers. About 30 to 40 percent of all Bozo products are sold through the distrib organization to dealers, with the rest handled by toy jobbers directly to toy stores and chain stores. The diskery has discovered that Bozo toys are well received by dealers because they sell on their own and because they help to sell more kiddie records, since they add much display value to the firm's Bozo and Bozo-approved kidisks.
Comic BooksAs an indication of the present importance of Bozo in the kiddie field, the Dell Publishing Company runs off 750,000 copies of the Bozo comic book every quarter. This is considered a very substantial initial run for the comic book field.
All of the Bozo products, except the record readers, the records and the phonographs, are manufactured by outside firms, licensed on a royalty basis by Capitol Records. Sometimes the diskery will seek a manufacturer to develop a product it has conceived for Bozo license, but usually manufacturers come to Capitol with their ideas, and the diskery works with the manufacturer until all details are set.
Live BozosThere are live Bozos in the Capitol firm too as well as the record Bozo. Capitol Records, the only major diskery with a toy line, also is the only major diskery with two clowns on the payroll and over 100 clown suits on hand. Pinto Colvig on the West Coast, who also plays Bozo on disks, and Jimmy Chapin on the East Coast are the Capitol clowns, who appear before Parent-Teacher Associations, in theaters and in schools. The clown suits are worn by vaious personnel whenever a Bozo clown is called for from one of the distributing branches. Capitol has a complete operating procedure laid down for anyone who plays Bozo, and no man is permitted to wear the uniform unless he is both conscientious and sober.
Capitol Records has raised the business done by Bozo products from 2 percent of its gross business a few years ago to nearly 5 percent of gross business last year. The firm hopes to raise it to 10 percent by the end of 1953. The diskery intends to go on a strong drive to sell more Bozo products, since the profit margin on these items is comparatively high.
Billboard, February 14, 1953, page 1
Roach to Put Cap's Bozo into TV Film
HOLLYWOOD, March 27.--Capitol Records and Hal Roach Jr. have concluded negotiations whereby the latter will produce a telefilm series based on the plattery's highly successful kidisk series, "Bozo the Clown."
Roach firm is currently at work on a script for the series, preparatory to filming of a pilot reel.
Plans as yet have not been formed concerning possible sale or method of distribution of the series. Pinto Colvig, Cap's wax Bozo, is scheduled to play his role in the telefilm series.
Billboard, April 3, 1954, page 1
'Pinto' Colvig, Wife Visit Relatives Through Holidays
Among the many interesting visitors to the valley for the Thanksgiving holidays are Mr. and Mrs. Vance DeBar Colvig I, of Hollywood Calif. Mr. Colvig is more popularly known as "Pinto," a name which he received through the many years he has spent in show business. He was born and raised in Jacksonville.
This is Mrs. Colvig's first trip to the valley. In addition to seeing numerous relatives of Mr. Colvig, they are making trips about the valley and visiting in Jacksonville.
Mr. Colvig in particular popularized the character "Bozo the Clown."
They were guests at a family dinner Thanksgiving day at the home of Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Warner, 519 South Oakdale Avenue, a brother-in-law and sister. Another sister, Mrs. Helen Colvig Cook, Portland, arrived Wednesday evening for the family gathering. The Colvigs came by plane Tuesday evening and will leave the first of the week.
Included in their visits about the valley is one to the pioneer Birdseye home north of Gold Hill on the Rogue River, to see his aunt, Mrs. Effie Birdseye.
Mr. Colvig attended Oregon State College, "where they have three-fourths of a diploma for me with an inch of dust on it," he said in an interview Thanksgiving day. "I never could seem to make it through the month of May," he said, explaining why he never quite graduated.
The first time he put on white makeup to impersonate a clown was at [the] Lewis and Clark exposition in Portland in 1905. For a time he did newspaper work, and another of his interests was cartooning. His first cartoon was published in the Medford Mail Tribune in the "early 1900s." Cartoonists, he said, are all clowns at heart, but "they do it the lazy way."
So, no matter what serious interests Mr. Colvig had, always the call to clown was forecast and he'd take to the road again.
He is under contract to Capitol Records for which he furnishes "animal voices." He also works for Walt Disney Pictures and through the years has done "Grumpy " and "Sleepy" in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, "Goofy," the "practical pig" in the Three Little Pigs, and many others. "Why they picked me to be the practical pig I'll never know, for I am so impractical," the entertainer said in his jovial manner.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 25, 1955, page 2
"Pinto" Colvig, noted circus performer, who has been a circus roustabout, musician and clown, is the technical adviser.
"Circus Boy," Boston American, September 23, 1956, page 30
P.T.A. board members and room mothers of Cathedral City School are busy with preparations for the potluck supper planned for Thursday, Dec. 6, starting at 6 p.m. Parents are asked to return promptly the notices the children brought home, as it will enable those in charge to better judge for how many to prepare.
For entertainment and pleasure, the P.T.A. will present the "big surprise," Pinto Colvig, known and beloved as "Bozo," the Capitol Clown, also known under a dozen or more Disney titles such as Goofy, Pluto the Pup, Grumpy and the Big Bad Wolf.
"'Bozo' to Appear at PTA Meeting Thursday Night," The Desert Sun, Palm Springs, California, November 29, 1956, page 5
AL G. BARNES BEATS RUSSIANSHOLLYWOOD--Soviet Union, which often gets into news stories with circus yarns, was chided last week by clown Pinto Colvig for claiming a "new" act in the form of a lion riding on horseback.
Colvig, who's now billed as Bozo the Capitol Record Clown, recalls that about 1913 the Al G. Barnes Circus had a galloping horse on which an African lion, which carried a spotted dog, on which was a somersaulting monkey. The act was called the Famous Riding Four and was worked by such trainers as Bobby Thornton, Martha Florine, Louis Roth and Mabel Stark.
Billboard, October 7, 1957, page 78
Voice of Comic Characters, Pinto Colvig, Visits Here
Pinto Colvig's a clown who, at 66, enjoys making people laugh as much as he did the day he ran off with a carnival when he was just a funny-faced lad of 12.
"I didn't know whether I wanted to be a clown, draw cartoons, write, hobo or be a musician. So I wrapped it all up and made stew out of it," said Pinto, a vacation visitor at Holiday Acres on Lake George.
"I was a goofy-looking kid who figured that if people were going to laugh at me, they might as well pay for it."
For the past 12 years the Hollywood man has made "Bozo the Clown" albums for Capitol Records. Earlier he did the voices of such animated Walt Disney characters as Pluto, Goofy, Grumpy and Sleepy in "Snow White" and the third little pig in "The Three Little Pigs."
Through the years Pinto has supplied voice and sound effects for hundreds of movies, cartoons, radio and television programs. Seven million Bozo record-reader albums have been sold--more than all other children's albums combined, according to Capitol Records information.
His real name is Vance DeBar Colvig. His baptism as Pinto came the first day he entered school. "I was just a kid with skinny legs, turkey neck and bigger and better freckles," he said. "The older boys at the white schoolhouse, so filled with woodpecker holes it nearly collapsed, took one look at me and dubbed me Pinto the Human Leopard. I've been known as Pinto ever since, a one-name entertainer like Liberace and Hildegarde."
Says Best Humor True.The vacationer explained the origin of such likable comic characters as Goofy and Grumpy and their basis on real-life personalities.
"The best humor really happens," Pinto said. "Disney's Goofy was drawn as a composite of that slow-minded guy who is the happiest fellow in the world. Each small town has one, and he always seems to hang around the depot.
"My boyhood home of Medford, Ore. was no exception. The flagman at the main railroad crossing was the character I described to Disney which became the basis for Goofy. With his 'Yup, yup, yup' laugh, which is also used by other comics such as Red Skelton's Willie Lump Lump and Edgar Bergen's Mortimer Snerd, the made the ideal cartoon character.
"As a youngster I used to watch every train come in, and I knew all the details and peculiarities of that flagman's life. I impersonated that man for Disney, not in jest, but because I admired him and his simplicity. I always laughed with him rather than at him."
When planning the Snow White story, the Disney crew dreamed up a half a dozen dwarfs but needed the seventh. "A grouchy fellow was suggested," Pinto recalled, "but nobody really likes a grouch. Then I remembered a grumpy, though lovable, henpecked old character from my birthplace of Jacksonville in the southern Oregon foothills. A few recollections of incidents, a few impersonations and some hasty sketches--and Grumpy became the seventh dwarf."
Missed Rhinelander.Pinto worked in the Disney studios from 1930 to 1937. He still freelances voices and sound effects for the firm. In 1944 he was on a promotion tour for the re-release of "Snow White," and he nearly got to Rhinelander that time.
"I think this city was the one community in all of the 48 states, Canada and the territory of Hawaii which I missed, I was at Merrill, with Rhinelander scheduled for the next night, when the biggest blizzard of the winter blew up, knocked out all transportation and forced me to miss my appearance here."
Pinto was born in 1892, in "J'ville," Ore., "an old rip-snortin' gold town which nobody ever called by its full name of Jacksonville," he said. "I like to reminisce on those good old days. I don't know why, but we had more fun then."
The famous Emmet Kelly is a close friend of Pinto's. He met Kelly soon after he began trouping the sawdust and elephant trail in the horse and buggy era, when the big day in any town was the one on which the circus arrived. "I played a squeaky clarinet, made faces and dressed in baggy oversized clothes, with a derby. I was just a small-town E-flat clarinet player who couldn't get the circuses and carnivals out of my blood."
Was Radio Star.On a regular Sunday morning California radio show he was once billed as "The Oregon Apple Knocker and His Yellow Clarinet." "What a group of ad-libbers we were," he said. Ken Niles was the announcer and other performers included Nadine Connor, now an operatic star, and Kay Thompson, the actress.
Pinto still relishes the satisfaction of twisting his face into funny shapes, grinning widely and carrying on with side-splitting antics to entertain the young and old. "I, along with such fellows as Mel Blanc, am a member of Hollywood's 'Screwball Society'," Pinto said. "Whenever the movies want something crazy, they call on us."
In Pinto's varied career he has served as a newspaper cartoonist, written gag lines and done bit parts in Mack Sennett comedies, and appeared on such television shows as the Art Linkletter program.
He has five sons and nine grandchildren. One son and his grandson, Vance II and Vance III, are following in his footsteps as clowns.
Pinto's making plans to visit Rhinelander again. "The scenery, with the exception of mountains, reminds me of my happy childhood days--and besides, there's no California smog," he said.
The Rhinelander Daily News, Wisconsin, July 22, 1958, page 3
"Bozo the Clown" is finally due to take to the air on (5) at 5:30 p.m. in the person of Vance Colvig, son of the original Bozo.
"Tele-Vues by Terry Vernon," Independent Press-Telegram, Long Beach, California, January 18, 1959, page 38
Pinto Colvig, circus clown, reports that he has authored a series of articles about clowns and clowning. . . .
Tom Parkinson, "Circus Trouping," Billboard, August 15, 1960, page 50
Capitol Recording Clown, Bozo,
Will Be at Symphony Benefit Here
"Clowns Is People."
And "clowns is also musicians."
At least the Eastmoreland Burlingame Symphony Auxiliaries of the Portland Symphony Society think so.
Bozo, the Capitol recording clown, will make a guest appearance at a symphony benefit with John Trudeau and a group of musicians from the Portland Symphony Sept. 16. Trudeau and the group will be remembered for a bit of clowning at the summer Pops program.
"Bozo at the Symphony" will be at 2:30 p.m. at the Benson High School auditorium. Children will be welcomed especially, according to program chairmen Mrs. Robert Oringdulph and Mrs. Earl C. Edmonds Jr.
A native of Jacksonville, Ore., Bozo is telling of his 57 years with circuses and carnivals in a book now being published called Clowns Is People. [The publishing project fell through. The unpublished manuscript now resides at the Southern Oregon Historical Society Research Library.]
The book will be filled with anecdotes on how he squeaked his E-flat clarinet and clowned for circuses, carnivals and Walt Disney. The autobiography was finished before Bozo could tell about his first appearance with a symphony.
For the first 12 years of his life in Jacksonville, Bozo was called Vance Colvig. He is the brother of Mrs. Helen Colvig Cook, Portland author.
Colvig ran away from home to be a clown in a carnival. His makeup was a "bozo" or a tramp down. Today his trademark has been copied and recopied by less original entertainers. When Colvig was 13 he was a "ballyhoo clown" on the midway at the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland.
He moved to Hollywood in 1922 after years on the road and three years at Oregon State University. He worked on Mack Sennett comedies. He joined Walt Disney in 1930. He wrote "Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf" lyrics.
Bozo is also the voice behind Disney's Pluto the Pup, Goofy, Grumpy and Sleepy in "Snow White." He has also worked with such stars as Judy Garland, Jack Benny, Phil Harris and Kay Kayser.
Oregonian, Portland, August 10, 1961, page 43
Oregon's Own 'Bozo' Anything but Reticent
By PETER THOMPSON
Journal Staff Writer
"They say I have an inferiority complex, but listen to me go . . ."
The torrent of words abated a moment for the apology.
Then Vance DeBar Colvig, in Portland for a few days, plunged headlong back into his mile-a-minute story . . . the story of his career as Bozo the clown.
With his pipestem legs terminated in leather sandals, he lounged comfortably in his pajamas and let 'er rip.
"Born in Jacksonville, near Medford. I went to Oregon Agriculture College (now OSU). I studied campusology and canoeology (mostly to do with pretty girls). I suppose somewhere down there three-quarters of a diploma with my name on it is lying in some corner."
He switched to his love of the circus. "I ran away with the circus as a bandsman when I was 14, but came back. Dad was a well-known judge and it didn't go down too well. After college I went into vaudeville. Standing on a Seattle street I saw a circus parade. That rekindled memories and I joined as a member of the band. I became Bozo a little later.
"About the name Bozo. There are hundreds using it throughout the country. It's just circus jargon for a hobo."
Colvig has been many other things in life. "I'm the voice of Goofy and Pluto, and was Grumpy, Sleepy and Dopey in 'Snow White.' I've been on contract with Disney for 8 years. I worked with Mack Sennett and Charlie Chaplin, mostly dreaming up gag situations."
Fed up with questions from his listeners, he raced on again. "I call my religion 'kaleidoscopic.' You can't help picking up a little something worthwhile from most people as you go through life.
"I'd do it all over again. People think it's a silly way to earn a living. But better a clown, I say, than a bomb-making scientist."
Finally, "There have been good and bad times. But you get used to anything. It's just like eating olives."
Oregon Journal, Portland, September 15, 1961, page 4
September 16, 1961 Oregonian
Pied Piper of RecordsWho is the most famous clown of all?
To show business buffs, it may be Emmett Kelly. To lovers of great music, it may be Pagliacci.
But to inestimable millions of children--both present and past--it's Bozo, the Capitol Clown.
Capitol Records' Alan W. Livingston was looking for a mere straight man for the talking animals of his children's records back in 1946, but he ended up with the most popular star ever to emerge from the carousel world of kiddie disks.
In the intervening 15 years, television has made Bozo's oversized grin and unruly orange thatch even more familiar to passing generations of children. But he appeared on LP records for the first time recently when Capitol Records released nine 12-inch LP collections from its children's catalogue. Among the nine is the original Bozo record, "Bozo at the Circus."
BOZO AT THE CIRCUS had sold some $5,000,000 worth of records by 1965. Eight successors, including "Bozo Under the Sea," "Bozo and His Rocket Ship," and "Bozo on the Farm," were instant hits, running Bozo sales up additional millions.
Bozo, and the funny noises of the talking animals which surrounded him, were conceived by Livingston as a direct challenge to the saccharine fairy tales which had dominated the lagging children's record market for years. Bozo was no fairy princess, but what he did was nothing less than magical.
With the fast start Bozo had given him, Livingston was able to build a fat catalogue of children's disks. Within nine years after Capitol demonstrated to the industry that kiddie records were lucrative, the label was selling seven out of 10 records in the field. This, nevertheless, left enough moppet customers to provide the other companies with an average of 10 percent of their entire volume.
SIX YEARS AGO, the Saturday Evening Post hailed "Bozo at the Circus" as "the all-time best-selling album in phonograph history." Since then, sales on the album have remained steady, although children's records are only now showing signs of recovering from the rise of kiddie television. "Bozo at the Circus" is still undoubtedly the most popular children's record ever made.
Today, Bozo is worldwide. There are 203 Bozo television shows throughout the world. Bozo speaks Japanese, Spanish, and a dozen other languages.
Larry Harmon, who was the first television Bozo [sic--Pinto Colvig was the first television Bozo], controls and personally sees to it that all the duplicate clowns come up to Bozo standards--both in copyrighted makeup and happy-go-lucky personality.
HARMON CONDUCTS a school for Bozos at his Hollywood studios.
"Mainly, I tell them that Bozo is warm, lovable, and comical," said Harmon. "Some clowns are sad, but not this boy. He's the happiest clown of all.
"And I stress Bozo's motto, the one with which he always closes his shows, ‘Just keep laughing.'"
There are more than 150 Bozo items one can buy for children. They range from Bozo story and paint books to Bozo stuffed toys, hand puppets, bubble bath and pajamas.
HARMON has on the drawing boards the first full-length movie feature starring Bozo, in addition to more than 150 Bozo cartoons already out. Projected is a giant Bozo amusement park in Los Angeles--"a Disneyland with a Bozo personality," explained Mr. Harmon.
Even Livingston, the man who created Bozo, is stumped for an explanation of the clown's popularity with children.
"Pinto Colvig (the original Bozo of records) used to put on his makeup and come to my own children's birthday parties," Livingston recalled recently. "The children were always so excited they couldn't wait. They continually asked when he was going to arrive, but when he did, there was always one or more of them who merely stood there and cried. It was like God coming to earth."
"I really couldn't put my finger on why Bozo became so popular," he added. "It's just one of those magic things that happen."
Calgary Herald, September 16, 1961, magazine section, page 7
COOK--Nov. 11, Helen Colvig, of 1511 NE 121st; mother of Alfred Leckenby; sister of Vance and Don Colvig; 4 grandchildren. Services Tuesday 3:30 p.m. in Finley's Rose Chapel, SW Montgomery at 4th. Friends invited. Private commitment.
"Funeral Notices," Oregonian, Portland, November 13, 1961, page 23
Spending this week at the Palos Verdes Apartments are Dr. Florence Winchell from Hamden, Conn., and Mr. and Mrs. Pinto (Capitol Clown) Colvig from Hollywood. The Colvigs are visiting with his niece and family, the R. T. Hagens.
"Sunair," The Desert Sun, Palm Springs, California, March 7, 1962, page 20
'Bozo the Clown' Arrives for JubileeJacksonville--"Pinto" Colvig, former Jacksonville resident, whose character of "Bozo the Clown" is known to thousands, arrived Monday to appear in the Jacksonville Jubilee Aug. 4 and 5.
He is being accompanied by his son, Bourke, professionally known as "Scraps, the Musical Clown."
They are here at the invitation of the Jacksonville Lions Club.
Colvig will head a silver cornet bend made up of valley residents, many who have known the entertainer since he lived here. In charge of organizing the 12-piece silver cornet band are Fred Strang and Chester Wendt of Medford, and George Wendt of Jacksonville.
The band is being organized in reminiscence of the old Jacksonville Silver Cornet Band which Colvig first remembers in 1898 when he was six, and the players paraded on an old bandwagon driven by six horses decorated with tassel-edged trappings and pampas grass plumes in their bridles.
Two of the bandsmen Colvig recalls as "Hooksy" Helms, who rode on the back seat as the bass drummer, and "Old Pappy" Schmidt, the bandmaster, at the front, playing an E-flat cornet, an instrument which Colvig now also plays.
The young boy, dazzled by the bandwagon's beauty and excitement of the band music, vowed that one day he would ride up there and later, many times he did with the Jacksonville hometown band in Fourth of July parades, one for Bryan for President and many others.
Colvig often served as a mascot for Neuber's Jacksonville Goldbricks baseball team which played in Medford, Ashland, Gold Hill and other valley towns.
In Other Shows
Just as Colvig eventually rode in the Jacksonville Silver Cornet Band wagon, he has ridden in many others for many shows including the Al G. Barnes circus, the Sells-Floto circus and the Ringling-Barnum circus.
The jubilee programs will be made up of 13 old favorite marches, some concert numbers and specialty songs. In one comedy routine he will use four different instruments playing four different tunes at the same time.
His son, Bourke Colvig, will direct the specialty numbers. Also a clarinetist, he was assistant bandmaster for Russell Brothers-Clyde Beatty-Cole Circus.
He has studied at the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music and composes, arranges and directs. He often appears with his father as a team and also works with his brother, Vance Colvig, the present television character known as Bozo.
Medford Mail Tribune, August 1, 1962, page 3
Man of Many Voices Barked Way to ShowbizPinto Colvig, a man who literally barked his way into show business over 30 years ago, is the voice of Goofy, Walt Disney’s slightly balmy but kindly cartoon co-star in the comical production, "In Shape with Von Drake" to be aired on "Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color" Sunday evening over the NBC-TV Network.
Colvig studied at Oregon State College and then set out on a promising career as a newspaper cartoonist. But it was his unusual pastime of mimicking animals that got him started on a unique and successful vocation in show business, specializing in sound effects and giving voice to cartoon characters.
He was barking, whining and growling for Pluto, the first Disney dog, when Goofy came along. A gangling doggie character well suited to acting like a human, Goofy first appeared in 1932 as a grandstand spectator in a cartoon called "Mickey’s Revue." Unlike Pluto, Goofy could talk, and it was Colvig who mustered up the thick-throated characterization which became Goofy's voice.
"In Shape with Von Drake" is an all-cartoon feature, and was directed by Hamilton Luske for Walt Disney.
Daily American, Somerset, Pennsylvania, March 20, 1964, page 4
Keystone Kops Will Celebrate 50th YearA group of Kops planned to celebrate their anniversary at the movieland wax museum, a filmland attraction that houses wax figures of stars. Appropriately
By JOSEPH FINNIGAN
UPI Hollywood Correspondent
HOLLYWOOD (UPI)--Veterans of the world's zaniest police force, the Keystone Kops, are celebrating their golden anniversary--more than 50 years of screwball antics.
The Kops and their mentor, the great director Mack Sennett, burst onto the screens of an infant movie industry back in 1912. The boys might be celebrating their golden anniversary two years late, but it won't lessen their enthusiasm.
The Keystone Kops made an impact on early motion picture audiences which was to keep the uniformed clowns on movie screens for many years, well into the 1920s.
Only a few of the original Keystone policemen are alive today. Among them is Chester Conklin, a resident of the motion picture home for retired show folk.
Conklin and those early film comedians regaled audiences with their frantic chases, pie-tossing and general tomfoolery.
Set Up AnywhereConklin, 78, said, "They can't make comedies like the Keystone Kops these days. We'd set up our cameras on any street in Los Angeles, and if a crowd gathered we'd hire a few cops on the spot to keep people away from the action. We'd think up jokes and gags as we went along. Such a thing is unheard of these days."
Conklin was asked what elements made the Keystone Kops so popular.
"It was Sennett," he said. "He was a great comedy producer because he'd laugh at you all the time. He'd be there in front of the camera laughing and you'd break your neck to make him laugh. That was one secret of the Keystones' success.
"And pictures were new. Almost anything you did that was funny would get a laugh. And we put a lot of speed in the pictures."
Conklin said there were only 10 regular Kops, but hundreds of other persons through the years put on a uniform and took part in an occasional scene. Many of Hollywood's oldtimers, men such as Eddie Gribbon, Andy Clyde, Charles Diltz, Eddie Leveque and Pinto Colvig occasionally worked as Keystone Kops while holding down other studio jobs as writers and directors.
Explains AttractionsColvig, now 71, explained the attraction that playing a Keystone Kop held for early-day movie actors.
"Anytime they had something with policemen in it somebody would ask to put on a hat and be in the scene," he said. "They were the biggest hams there ever was. Everybody got into the act. They were happy, hectic days."
enough, the boys will celebrate with a pie-throwing brawl, reminiscent of old slapstick days.
The Keystone era spirit was probably summed by the elderly Colvig when he said, "Springtime is here. My feet are getting itchy. I'd like to be the only 71-year-old boy who runs away and joins the circus."
Great Bend Daily Tribune, Great Bend, Kansas, May 5, 1964, page 10
Pinto was with Sennett long after the Keystone Cops' heyday, but "Love in a Police Station," apparently a Cops short subject, may have been produced during Pinto's tenure. The film seems to be lost, so we may never be able to confirm whether Pinto was ever actually a Keystone Cop.
Pinto Started Clowning Early
By Noel Osment
He had a long turkey neck, the biggest freckles in the tiny town in southern Oregon, freckles which had earned him the nickname of Pinto, and by the time he was seven he discovered he could make people laugh.
"Clowns are born, not made, they say, " says Pinto Colvig, who was brought to Phoenix this week to talk to the Phoenix Ad Club by L. Robert Lager, president of the newly formed American Telecard, Inc.
Pinto thinks he may have become a clown because, like all children, he wanted attention. He was the youngest of seven in a house filled with music. Everyone played something, but when he played his squeaky clarinet, people laughed.
"It was probably because my eyes crossed, naturally, when I played it. I was hurt at first when they laughed, but then started to ham it up. By the time I was seven I was marching and clowning in all the parades and local social events."
His dad was a lawyer and judge [William Colvig was never a judge. The title "judge" was an honorific.] in the small town in the late eighteen hundreds. But Pinto spent his time in school drawing maps, closing his eyes and putting his finger down--anywhere.
"I'd tell myself this is where I'm going to go. I'll just get out of this old school and go."
School was, to Pinto, a white wooden cage full of woodpecker holes. What mattered were people, places, excitement and circuses.
Then a circus came to Portland and Pinto spent a summer such as small boys' dreams are made of. Aged 12, he talked himself into a job assisting a barker.
"This barker was a sort of cannibal character who beat a drum while repeating a "habba habba habba" sound over and over. [Harry L. Blitz. See above.] I played my squeaky clarinet, and when he first painted me up with the 'goose grease' I was in heaven."
He had the run of the circus that summer, and that included the girlie shows. His ability to read and write got him in with the head of the Egypt show, and he got the added job of writing the man's love letters to an Egyptian dancer.
"I still remember her name, Corina. I used to add a little to the letters I read him and make up stuff to put in his letters to her.
So it was that in 1913 Pinto was marching down the streets of Phoenix playing his squeaky clarinet and clowning around with the Al G. Barnes Circus.
Since Pinto says that "cartoonists are clowns with pencils," he was a natural for the world of animated cartoons. So in the early '30s he joined the Disney group, lending his voices to characters like Pluto and Goofy, Grumpy and Sleepy.
He even became a songwriter of sorts, since songs for Disney movies frequently came out of story conferences.
"The World Owes Me a Living" came out of a discussion of the character of the grasshopper, for instance.
One song, "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" became the subject of weighty editorials [and] was called a ray of light in the darkness of the Depression. All of which was very funny to Pinto, who recalls sitting around with another Disney cartoonist, playing around with a song, "The Three Little Pigs."
"Do you know there isn't a word in the English language that rhymes with 'wolf'? So we just kept using 'wolf' at the end of the line, never could think of any last line, so I just played it on a dime store whistle. We weren't trying to write an epic song. We were just a couple of guys grinding out a living, working something out for the picture."
It was as the original voice for "Bozo the Clown" that Pinto became best known. Many others followed with Bozo acts, but it was Pinto, with, he insists, a group of others, who originated the Bozo idea.
Now, at 72, Pinto is still making children laugh, and as of this month his voice, as Goofy, is available on greeting card records.
The greeting cards are a product of a company headed up by Mr. Lager and a group of Phoenicians who have acquired the rights to the major animated cartoon voices. The voices are put on records which play a two-minute birthday greeting and can be punched out of a birthday card.
Arizona Republic, Phoenix, September 30, 1964, page 20
Man with Many Voices Visits Medford Schools
A soft-spoken man and an outspoken duck visited with many of the grade school children in the Rogue Valley last week under the auspices of the National School Assemblies.
Clarence Nash, the voice of Donald Duck, carried a ventriloquist's prop of the world-famous Walt Disney cartoon character as he explained to youngsters how recordings are made and how artists fit cartoon pictures to recorded dialogues.
Nash was escorted locally by Rudy Tetreault, Jacksonville, because of their mutual friend, Pinto Colvig. Colvig, who was born and reared in Jacksonville and returns here frequently to visit, has been with Walt Disney Studios for more than 35 years. He is known as Bozo the Clown and as the voice for Disney characters Goofy, Grumpy, Pluto and a host of others.
Nash told his young listeners that he was the "noisiest kid in a family of six" as he started at an early age to imitate the sounds his pets made.
At the age of 13 he decided perhaps he could make a living with his unusual ability. His parents wanted him to be a doctor, "but instead," he punned, "I decided to be the greatest quack in the world."
Colvig was the man who auditioned Nash for the voice of Donald Duck when the little barnyard fowl made his first Silly Symphony appearance in "The Wise Little Hen" in 1932.
Nash demonstrated voices of many barnyard animals and did some bird imitations, which he said he has supplied for the Tiki Room, in Disneyland, and for television shows including Dennis the Menace and Perry Mason.
He showed some sound effects equipment--a lion's roar, bees buzzing, thunderstorm and finally Jack Benny's Maxwell car, saying the instruments used for the sputtering vehicle were instruments invented by Colvig.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 17, 1966, page D10
Goofy was Vance "Pinto" Colvig, also the voice of Pluto, Grumpy and the third Little Pig. Colvig died Oct. 3 at the age of 75 in Woodland Hills, Cal. As recently as six months ago he recorded some Goofy dialogue for a telephone exhibit at Expo 67. Colvig was also the original Bozo the Clown.
"Action Line," Akron Beacon Journal, October 2, 1967, page 1
Plan Requiem Mass for Vance 'Pinto' Colvig Sr.
Requiem mass will be celebrated today for Vance D. "Pinto" Colvig Sr., "dean of Hollywood voice men," who died Tuesday at the age of 75. The service is scheduled at 11 a.m. in Blessed Sacrament Church, 6657 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. Interment follows in Holy Cross Cemetery, 5835 W. Slauson Blvd., Los Angeles.
Mr. Colvig, the voice of Walt Disney cartoon characters "Goofy" and "Pluto" for many years, succumbed at Motion Picture Country Hospital in Woodland Hills.
Played "Bozo"He also was co-writer of the lyrics for many of Disney's early hit tunes including "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?"
He wrote much of the material for Capitol Records' "Bozo the Clown" and was the original "Bozo."
Prior to voice work and acting in movies and television, Mr. Colvig worked as a cartoonist and gag man and was a pioneer in the field of animation.
Name SurvivorsBorn in Jacksonville, Ore., in 1892, he began his acting career at the age of 8, performing at a local opera house with then-child star Verna Felton.
He left school to travel with the Al G. Barnes Circus as a musician, later becoming a newspaper cartoonist and columnist in San Francisco. He came to Hollywood in 1923.
Mr. Colvig is survived by his widow Peggy, sons Vance D. Colvig Jr., Byington F. and Bourke J. Colvig, all of the Los Angeles area; son William M. Colvig of San Francisco, and Courtney X. Colvig of Seattle, Wash.
Suggest MemorialAlso surviving are a brother, Donald Colvig of Templeton, Cal., 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
The family has asked that those wishing to contribute to his memory send donations to the Motion Picture Country House, 23388 Mulholland Drive, Woodland Hills.
The News, Van Nuys, California, October 5, 1967, page 46
Vance D. (Pinto) Colvig, 75, one of Hollywood's veteran voice specialists, died Oct. 3 at Motion Picture Country Home in Los Angeles. Mr. Colvig was one of several Walt Disney cartoon characters, including Goofy, Pinto and one of the Three Little Pigs. He wrote lyrics for "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf" and "The World Owes Me a Living," among other songs. He is survived by his wife, Peggy, and five sons.
Broadcasting, October 9, 1967, page 79
Oregon's Bozo the Clown Helped Millions with 'Laugh Medicine'
One of Oregon's most famous characters died this month in Los Angeles at the age of 75.
He was the world-famous Bozo the Clown--the original Bozo. His real name was Vance "Pinto" Colvig. He was born in Jacksonville, grew up in Medford, and was an alumnus of Oregon State University.
As a youngster, he learned to play a squeaky clarinet and make funny faces in every hometown entertainment he could find.
At 12, "Pinto" ran away to become a clown with a carnival at the 1905 Lewis and Clark World's Fair in Portland. [He didn't run away.] With clown white on his face, dressed in baggy oversized clothes, and wearing a derby, young "Pinto" became a "bozo" clown, which in those days meant a "tramp" clown.
Circus in BloodFrom then on, "Pinto" couldn't get circuses and carnivals out of his blood. He would go to school in the winter, but the minute spring came he would be off to the circus. [Pinto only toured part of two seasons.]
Later, after he became famous, Bozo the Clown returned to the OSU campus and said:
"I hobo'd my way to Corvallis from a tour with York's concert band at the first Pendleton Roundup in 1910 and met a lot of my hometown Medford guys. I was on my way to San Francisco to join a band en route to Australia."
But the University's band director at that time, Captain Beard, learned that "Pinto" played an E-flat clarinet.
"He encouraged me to sign up for a course in the art department so I could play in the band," Colvig remembered.
However, there was more Bozo the Clown in the young man than there was the college student.
"Come early springtime, the green grass, elephants and the call of the calliope would lure me back to the circus where I clowned, played the Big Top and often pinch-hit as barker for the big show."
Left OSUYoung Colvig finally left OSU in 1913 when the spring lure became too great. He did a vaudeville stint on [the] Pantages circuit and later joined the Al Barnes Big 4 Ring Wild Animal Circus for two years.
By 1916, "Pinto" married and settled down in San Francisco, drawing syndicated cartoons. It was then that he made the first colored animated cartoon (without sound) called "Pinto's Prizma Comedy Revue." [The Prizma work was in 1919, after three years animating in San Francisco.]
"Pinto" and his family moved to Hollywood in 1922, where he worked as title writer and comedian for many Mack Sennett and other two-reeler comedies. He helped make one of the first animated cartoons with sound and worked with the famous "Oswald" cartoons.
Walt Disney, who was "Silly Symphony" cartoons, signed him to a contract in 1930. At the Disney studios, "Pinto" worked on stories, wrote songs (one was "The World Owes Me a Living"), and did the voices of the animated characters Pluto, Goofy, Grumpy and Sleepy in "Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs" and one of the pigs in "The Three Little Pigs."
Had Many VoicesColvig left the Disney studios in 1937, but he returned often to do various voices and sound effects for Disney. His most famous voice during this period was as "Gabby" in "Gulliver's Travels."
Over the years, he supplied voices and sound effects for hundreds of movies, cartoons, radio and television programs.
In 1946, "Pinto" became "Bozo the Capitol Clown." His Bozo record-readeralbums sold in the millions--more than all other children's albums combined.
As Bozo, he starred in his own motion picture, two television series, and made countless guest appearances on radio. His personal appearance tours took him throughout the world.
Honored by OSUOSU made him an honorary member of Kappa Kappa Psi, international music fraternity, for "his loyalty to his college band, and for the great heights he had attained in the musical world."
Colvig was pleasantly amused by these plaudits. For he was fond of saying, "Well, I really did reach great heights in the musical world--that old No. 1 gilded band wagon on the Barnes circus was at least 14 feet high; and from that lofty point all America knew for sure that it was Circus Day when I let loose with those triple-forty, double-tempo squeals from my old E-flat clarinet."
Although he toured the world and lived most of his adult life in Los Angeles, Bozo the Clown still considered himself an Oregonian. He returned often to the state. In 1948, he was grand marshal of Portland's annual fairy tale parade. In 1961, he was featured with the Portland Symphony Orchestra in "Bozo at the Symphony."
Over the years, Vance "Pinto" Colvig had entertained millions of children and adults. His contagious enthusiasm had helped ease their troubles with generous portions of what he called his "laugh medicine."
Corvallis Gazette-Times, October 12, 1967, page 4 This article was reprinted, with slight revisions, by Pinto's alma mater in the Oregon State College Barometer, October 17, 1967, page 1
Disney wanted to develop definite personalities for the seven dwarfs, since the Brothers Grimm fairy tale on which the film is based provided little information on the characters. (In a vintage play, they were labeled as Flick, Glick, Blick, Snick, Plick, Whick and Queen.) Pinto Colvig, who had earlier created Goofy's voice, suggested that each dwarf possess a name that would also signal a strong personality. The first list of possible names was: Gabby, Jumpy, Sniffy, Puffy, Lazy, Stubby, Shorty, Nifty and Wheezy.
Lou Gaul, "'Snow White," Born in Travail, Wins Over All Who See Her," The Daily Intelligencer, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, July 12, 1987, page C6
If Walt Disney hadn't nixed it, the Seven Dwarfs might have had names like Stubby, Sniffy, Wheezy or Puffy. Wouldn't you know it, the guy who played Goofy came up with the nomenclature.
"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," then known among Hollywood skeptics as "Disney's Folly," premiered to sniffling, cheering crowds on Dec. 21, 1937.
Carole Lombard and Clark Gable emerged from the Carthay Circle red-eyed. Of course, by then Wheezy had become Sneezy, and the guy who was Goofy, Pinto Colvig, was also playing Sleepy and Grumpy to Adriana Caselotti's Snow White.
"If we could all be like Grumpy, there'd be world peace," says Caselotti, now 71, who mixes characters and actors like ordinary folk toss salads. "Grumpy never got grumpy," she says of the days she and Colvig traveled together to promote the film.
So when Caselotti found herself feeling put upon, she asked Colvig his secret, and he said, "Every morning, I get up and look in the bathroom mirror and say, 'I'm not mad at anybody'."
Rita Kempley, Washington Post, "'Snow White' at 50 Is Undwarfed by Time," Altoona Mirror, July 19, 1987, page 44
Vance Colvig, 72, Was Bozo the ClownLOS ANGELES--Vance Colvig Jr., 72, an actor who made frequent guest appearances on "The Golden Girls," "Hill Street Blues," "St. Elsewhere" and other television shows, has died.
The Associated Press
Mr. Colvig died March 4 of cancer at his Hollywood Hills home, John Harlan, a longtime friend, said Sunday.
Mr. Colvig began his career as a page at NBC, then became a writer for such radio shows as "Breakfast in Hollywood," "Command Performance" and "Bride and Groom."
In addition to his TV series work, he often appeared in commercials and music videos. He also played several characters at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park and at trade shows.
Mr. Colvig portrayed Bozo the Clown for six years on KTLA-TV/5 in Los Angeles, following in the footsteps of his father, Vance "Pinto" Colvig Sr., the original voice for the Disney cartoon character Goofy.
Mr. Colvig is survived by his wife, Gini; son, Vance III; and two brothers.
Orange County Register, Santa Ana, California, March 12, 1991, page B9
Last revised November 20, 2023