The Teddy Bears' Picnic is a song written by John Walter Bratton in (1907), with lyrics added in 1932 by prolific songwriter Jimmy Kennedy, and is still a popular tune recorded by several artists and appearing in many children's recordings. Ironically, one of the main themes is strongly reminiscent of the celebrated Robert Browne Hall March "Death or Glory" composed 12 years earlier.
Uses in Media
The song was recorded in the United Kingdom in 1932 by Henry Hall and His Orchestra EMI SH 172, with Val Rosing singing. The Hall rendition is perhaps the most well-known in the UK and was featured in the Dennis Potter drama The Singing Detective. The song has since been recorded by several singers including Bing Crosby, Frank DeVol, Rosemary Clooney, Dave Van Ronk, Jerry Garcia, John Inman, Trout Fishing in America, and Anne Murray.
The piece was also popular as a theme song or background music in various films and programs:
- The instrumental version appears briefly in the musical score to accompany Buster Keaton's silent film The General. It was also frequently used as background music in Looney Toons.
- In the late 1940s and early 1950s it was used as the theme song for the Big Jon and Sparkie radio program, a children's show presented on weekdays and Saturday mornings. This version used was performed by organist Ethel Smith. The Saturday Show was later named "No School Today".
- The song features prominently in Peter Greenaway's film A Zed & Two Noughts, and is sung by characters in the film.
- The song is also featured in the CGI movie Open Season where Boog's teddy bear plays the melody when its string is pulled, and the words are recited by various character throughout the film.
- The song appears briefly in the film version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
- The song is featured in the third episode of The Young Ones, titled "Boring". When the roommates are away at the pub, various inanimate objects in the flat come to life. The song plays as a young girl enters the flat and tastes all three bowls of food that sit on the table.
- The Song serves as the theme song for the Commodore 64 game "The Hunchback", by Ocean, and for the BBC Micro game "Nemesis" by Micro Power.
- In November 2005 a commercial for the Xbox game console featured the Henry Hall/Val Rosing version as the primary soundtrack.
- The background music of Gruntilda's Lair in Banjo-Kazooie is also based on this song.
- In an episode of The Simpsons, Bart recites part of the lyrics in Moe's bar.
- In the documentary movie Streetwise (1984) performed by Baby Gramps.
The Children's Hospital at Westmead (Aust) use a version of the song in their TV and radio advertisements for its annual fundraiser 'The Teddy Bears' Picnic' www.teddybearspicnic.com.au
Use by BBC Radio Engineers
The 1932 Henry Hall recording was used for more than 30 years, by BBC audio engineers (up until the early 1960’s) to test and calibrate audio equipment. Originally chosen because of its especially good recording quality & the large tonal range of the music: making ideal for checking frequency response of audio equipment. BBC Engineering even had special vinyl pressings made, to reduce any surface noise.
Other uses of title
- A "teddy bears' picnic" is also a term used for a party intended for young children which involves a picnic and to which the children are invited to bring their teddy bears. Teddy bears' picnics may be held as a form of birthday party, or by primary schools or elementary schools or other organized children's groups.
- The Teddy Bear's Picnic is an annual event in June in St. John's, Newfoundland, in which children, adults and teddy bears alike join children's entertainer Terry Reilly "The Teddy Bear Man" for an afternoon of singing and fun.
- The Teddy Bears' Picnic is also an Australian event in which money is raised for The Children's Hospital at Westmead in Australia.
- The Name of the song has also lent its title to the Harry Shearer film Teddy Bears' Picnic
- A version of "The Teddy Bears Picnic" was recorded on a 78RPM by William "Billy" Costello in the voice of Popeye the Sailor (backed with "Lets All Sing Like The Birdies Sing")
- The Teddy Bears Picnic is an annual summer event held at Mill Green Museum and Mill