by Sally Blanchard

We should all know about Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and many other famous Disney cartoon characters, but who remembers the dapper cigar-smoking parrot, Jose Carioca? In 1945, he first appeared in Disney’s Miracle Musical Feature the Three Caballeros with Donald and Panchito, the strutting rooster (another relative unknown) as the other two amigos. This was the first movie to combine cartoon animation with human actors. Many people thought that the dapper Jose would become at least as famous as Mickey and Donald but for some reason, he seemed to retire long before his time. Perhaps his cigar smoking did him in? Jose was popular with many people and a special cartoon of him was the official insignia of the USS Escambia a Navy refueling ship during WW II. Evidently, when his other amigos sang, Jose used his umbrella as a horn to accompany them. Jose was also in Disney’s 6th animated feature, Saludos Amigos that also starred Donald and Goofy. Sadly, I don’t know if Jose Carioca was even invited to join the Mickey Mouse Club. Perhaps Mickey thought the dapper Jose was too suave and would show him up? Now Jose is available in many collectibles and the old videos but otherwise, he is pretty much forgotten.

I do remember seeing the Three Caballeros when I was a kid. I was too young to see it when it first came out but I do clearly remember aspects of the movie. I liked it because it was not just a movie but it was also a geography lesson and I loved both history and geography when I was a kid. Most of all I remember the story about Pablo the cold-blooded penguin, traveling north on an iceberg in an attempt to go where it was warmer. I also remember when I was a Brownie Scout that one of our projects was to make little Disney plaster figures and to paint them. We had rubber molds that we poured plaster in and let them dry. Then we painted them. I liked to do artwork from the time I was very young. I remember doing a figure of Donald Duck and one of Jose Carioca. I wish that I still had the one I made but we moved so often that we never got to keep anything that wasn't important (to my father). Perhaps that is why I became a collector of parrot and bird tchotchkes?




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