Reliving Fond Memories
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PINTO in the BIG CITY
By David Mink
His voice is the first thing you may recognize. He spluttered and mooed, ptoeyed and wheezed for cartoons throughout what is commonly called the Golden Age of Animation. He worked wonders in the medium of live radio, giving life to decrepit Maxwells and barnyard animals. As the worlds most famous clown, he entertained a generation of children with his stories.
O yeah, and he was the voice of the worlds dummest dog.
"Pinto" Colvig was all of these and more. Musician, comedian, cartoonist, clown, an all around artist plying the trade of making people laugh. Bringing the joy of the Angels a little closer to the ground.
And the dog I mentioned earlier? Pinto was the official voice of Goofy for about 40 years until 1967.
"My mother covered me with a crazy quilt when I was born, and I've been clowning ever since," he once said.
Vance debar "Pinto" Colvig was born in Oregon on September 11, 1895. As a child, his freckles earned him the nickname "Pinto" which he liked and used throughout his life. He learned to play the E-flat clarinet and discovered he was a natural mimic. He made his friends and family laugh by mimicking noises of autos and animals he spent hours mastering.
"Now that I think of it, I sure was a homely brat. I was always making faces, and making people laugh. I was always 'on stage.' And when road shows came to town, I'd hand around to do 'extra parts'. I loved circuses - they were so glamorous."
In 1905, at the Lewis and Clark Centennial Expo, Pinto got his first real taste of show business life. He was hired to play squeaky clarinet for a huckster selling tickets to an exhibit. When the Huckster put his employee in greasepaint and funny clothes to attract people, Pinto was transported. It was the beginning of a lifelong love affair.
Next Pinto was hired to play in a cowboy clown band for the Pendleton Roundup. After that, his brother Don convinced him to enroll in the Oregon Agricultural College so he could play with the college band. Pinto did, though he wasnt interested in classes. He would entertain his classmates by improvising "chalkboard talks" where he would draw funny pictures and keep up an improvised monologue. His talks became a hit on campus, leading to a job with a vaudeville circuit.
After two years of touring, Pinto returned to the circus in the clown band. During winter break in 1916, he met and married Margaret Slavin, bringing the curtain down on his circus career. With a family to support he sought steadier work with newspapers drawing cartoons.
Newspaper cartoons evolved into animated cartoons. Pinto opened his own cartoon studio, Pinto's Cartoon Comedies. With his partner Walter Lantz, he animated one of the first sound cartoons, "Bolivar the Squawky Ostrich". Pinto had to close his doors when most of his artists were drafted in WWI.
He switched to live action films, working with Mack Sennett as a gag and title writer. Sometimes he would appear in the films.
Walt Disney hired Pinto in 1930, as a freelance artist doing voices. In 1935 he was put under contract and became a gag writer. He wrote the song "The World Owes Me A Living" which became Goofy's theme song, though it first appeared in the Silly Symphony "The Grasshopper and the Ants". He did the voice of Practical Pig, provided Plutos sniffing and snorting, as well as Grumpy and Sleepy for Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.