on Pinto Colvig
Open the images in another window for a better view. There's a brief bio of Pinto here.
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 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 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
"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
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]
Typescript letter on "Bozo" Capitol Records stationery, addressee unknown, SOHS MS9, folder 1
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
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
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
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. Birdsey, are spending their vacation with their grandmother, Mrs. C. Birdsey, near Woodville.
Medford Mail, January 2, 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
"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
"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.
"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
For Examination Commencing May 14, 1908:
Civil Government: 26
English Grammar: 37
U.S. History: 44
Register of Uniform Eighth Grade Examination, Jackson County, Oregon, SOHS MS 912, page 5
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.
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 28, 1910, page 9
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
Mr. Don Colvig and Mr. Vance Colvig returned from Portland on Thursday for a short visit in Medford.
Pinto (center) in the Medford town band, circa 1910
"In Medford's Social Realm," Medford Mail Tribune, July 3, 1910, page 9
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
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.
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
Medford Sun, August 13, 1911
Colvig, Wm M (Colvig & Reames), h 8 S Laurel
1911 Polk's Jackson County Directory
The Al G. Barnes Circus parade makes a U-turn in Madras, Oregon in 1911
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
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
Pinto Colvig cartoon, January 1, 1912 Medford Mail Tribune
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 "cultivated 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.
The Barometer, Oregon Agricultural College, unidentified clipping circa 1912, SOHS MS 9, folder 17
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, Keisler'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
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]
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
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
An extensive search through the Seattle Daily Times from January 1, 1913 through May 10, 1913 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. A search of digitized West Coast newspapers failed to find any connection between Pantages and any of Pinto's known names and trademarks.
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
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
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 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 though 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 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
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."
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."
Medford Mail Tribune, unidentified clipping circa 1914
Vance Colvig, Assistant Musical Director
Al G. Barnes Circus list of staff and performers, 1915
Route Traveled En Route with Barnes' CircusAnimated Advertising Co of Cal (Inc), Phelan Bldg
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
San Francisco City Directory, 1916
"Pinto" Takes a BrideThe news of the marriage of Vance Colvig was received last week. Vance is better known as Pinto, the name he uses in his cartoon work, and he has a host of friends here who are interested in his welfare and happiness. In addition to being a good artist, he is an exceptionally good clarinetist and cannot resist the lure of the circus band when it comes to town.
"Social Items from the Capital City" [Carson City], Nevada State Journal, Reno, Nevada, April 16, 1916, page 7
Medford Sun, September 24, 1916 Circus ad by Pinto Colvig
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
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
ANIMATED CARTOON FILM CORP., Byington Ford, Genl. Mgr., 1620 Hewes Bldg. Sutter 4757.
San Francisco Chronicle, November 25 and 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
April 27, 1918 Medford Mail Tribune
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.
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
March 5, 1919 San Francisco Bulletin
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
October 22, 1919 San Francisco Bulletin
November 7, 1919 San Francisco Bulletin
December 18, 1919 San Francisco Bulletin
"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."
"Screenings," The Patriot, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, November 8, 1920, page 10
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
"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
Vance D. Colvig (Margaret), cartoons, 1112 Market r 1160 Clay
Pinto Cartoon Comedies, 1112 Market
San Francisco City Directory, 1921
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
"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 his 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.
Unidentified San Francisco newspaper clipping circa 1922, SOHS MS9 folder 25
Pinto, popular cartoonist of the United Feature Syndicate, and known from coast to coast, has been made "gagman" for Century Comedy productions.
"Comedy Clippings," Camera, January 13, 1923
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
"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
Colvig Vance D, title writer, h 1342 Myra av
Los Angeles City Directory, 1924
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
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, 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
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
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 652
November 13, 1925 Film Daily
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 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" 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."
Jackson County News, September 10, 1926
OREGON YOUTH HAS REAL SERIOUS JOB
AS MOVIE GAG MAN
Vance Colvig, Former O.A.C. Student, Band Wagon Enthusiast and Boxcar Idol,
Tells the Journal Some of the Highlights in Checkered Career
Since He Came into the World at Jacksonville--Has Four Boys.
Because he was the "freckledest" kid in Jacksonville, Or., 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.
[omission?]"We moved to San Francisco, where I made animated film cartoons for a couple of years. Worked a year as a 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 of age, 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.
Undated Oregon Journal article circa 1926, SOHS MS9, folder 30
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
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 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.n 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
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
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
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."
Carroll Daily Herald, Iowa, November 27, 1933, page 1
December 19, 1933 Oakland Tribune
January 3, 1934 Brainerd Daily Dispatch
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 Colvig's 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,
"BIG BAD WOLF" ON VISIT HERE: NATIVE OF OREGONAfter 1937 Pinto was no longer under exclusive contract to Disney, but until his death in 1967 he continued recording the voice of Goofy.
"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.
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 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.
"A Brief History of Van De Bar Colvig," Southern Oregon Historical Society 1980, page 9
[Review of the Gilmore Fun Circus radio show:] 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," Oregonian, Portland, March 16, 1937, page 9
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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.
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 sparrow to the roar of a wild hyena. 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.--Exchange.
The Times Recorder, Zanesville, Ohio, August 19, 1944, page 4
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: "Honkity 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
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
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).
Undated letter circa 1948 to Effie Birdseye, photocopy, SOHS vertical files
'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
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
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.
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, 1949, page 9
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
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, otherwise known as Vance DeBar Colvig, 59, was married yesterday to Mrs. Peggy Bernice Allaire, 43. It was the second marriage for each.
The Niagara Falls Gazette, January 5, 1952, page 18
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
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
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
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
Bozo, KTLA's popular "Clown Prince of Pandemonium," will appear at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Fifth Street and Pine Avenue, preceded by the band at 6:30 p.m.
The public probably remembers when Vance Colvig, star of KTLA's Bozo the Clown show, won the coveted Emmy in 1953.
"Downtown L.B. Will Feature Stars and Free Bus Rides in Evening Events," Independent Press-Telegram, Long Beach, California, November 25, 1962, page R9. The Vance in the first paragraph would be Vance junior; it had to have been Pinto who won the Emmy in 1953.
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
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
Last revised May 5, 2013