Candy Candido: Partnered with Bud Abbott

Jonathan Joseph Candido (1913-1999) deserves better than the headline I just gave him. Show biz buffs know of his long career, and the many high points he enjoyed. But the job of a headline is to grab a reader, and I would imagine that a wider subset knows him in connection with those few weeks in 1960.

But before we get to that, the Big Picture. Originally from New Orleans (where he performed in early bands with friend Louis Prima), Candido first gained notice as a bass player and singer with Ted Fio Rito’s big band. This led to radio work, which led to comic voice over work. With a voice that spanned four octaves, he could go from very high to very low — which become his popular catchphrase as utterly weekly on Jimmy Durante’s radio program “I’m feeling mighty LOW.”

Indeed, his is the voice of one of my favorite voice-overs of all time, the Angry Apple Tree in The Wizard of Oz (1939): “Hey! What do you think you’re doing?””How’d you like it if someone came along and picked something off of YOU?” Other places you can hear him (among dozens) are Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion (1950) and the Disney movies Peter Pan (1953), Sleeping Beauty (1959) and Robin Hood (1973).

In 1960 he was tried as Lou Costello’s replacement in an act with Bud Abbott. Dilettantes tend to regard the moment as heresy, but upon reflection it’s not the craziest idea in the world. Abbott’s national fame as partner to Costello had actually only spanned about 15 years. He’d been in show biz long before that — why shouldn’t he start another team? Phase one was to revive the old Costello routines, followed by breaking in new material with a view to getting a TV show off the ground. Inspired by the renewed success of the Three Stooges, Abbott figured he had a shot. But after a few months and a few performances the plug was pulled, with Abbott begging off due to illness.

After the experiment failed, Candido went back to business as usual, voice-over (and some live action) work, a lot of it once again for Disney: The Phantom Tollbooth (1970), Herbie Rides Again (1974), The Rescuers (1977), Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July (1979), The Black Cauldron (1985), and The Great Mouse Detective (1986).