"Wishing on a Star: The Life of Eddie Carroll"
Where to buy it: Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble
When most children hear the lyrics "When You Wish Upon a Star" in the opening scene of Disney’s "Pinocchio," they think of the small green insect, Jiminy Cricket.
When University of North Georgia professor Brad Strickland hears the song, he thinks of the man behind the cricket’s voice — Eddie Carroll.
Strickland was so inspired by the man with the memorable voice, he jumped at the chance to write a book about him with Carroll’s wife, Carolyn.
"(Eddie and I) had been friends for some time," Strickland said. "About a year after he died, Carolyn called and asked if I would be interested in helping write the biography. I said ‘yes.’"
After two years of interviews, research and writing, Strickland and Carolyn Carroll finally saw their hard work come to fruition. The book "Wishing on a Star: The Life of Eddie Carroll" recently was published by Bear Manor Media.
It was Strickland’s 75th book, but only his second biography. Although, this one was much more personal, especially since he befriended the man known for Jiminy Cricket’s voice and his uncanny impersonation of Jack Benny.
"I don’t think Eddie would use the word, but his life was inspirtation," Strickland said recently. "He faced an amazing number of obstacles and challenges. (But) he remained positive and optimistic.
In the book, readers learn of Carroll’s humble beginnings in showbusiness as a intern at NBC Studios in Los Angeles, which ended when he was drafted into the U.S. Army, even though he was a Canadian. Strickland explained Carroll thought it would be easier for him to apply for U.S. citizenship later if he served in the Army.
After his service, Carroll resumed his pursuit of acting. However, he was sidelined again — this time by a kidney stone.
"He almost died," Strickland said. "He faced a long recuperation after that."
However, his spirit to succeed in showbusiness never faltered. He and his friend, Jamie Farr — best known for his role as Maxwell Q. Klinger on the show "M.A.S.H." — formed a production company and got a talk show on the air.
"They were great, great friends all of Eddie’s life," Strickland said.
Then in the early 1970s, both men got big breaks. Farr was cast on the sitcom "M.A.S.H" while Carroll got the role he was to play for more than 30 years.
"Eddie always said he had two big breaks," Strickland recalled, noting the first was when he was cast in a Coca-Cola commercial, meaning he had enough money to marry Carolyn.
"Next was in 1973 when Disney called and asked him to do Jiminy Cricket’s voice," Strickland continued. "His agent, Herb Tannen, was over the moon. He said ‘Eddie this isn’t a job, it’s a career."
His agent was correct. Carroll was the voice of the small cricket for 36 to 37 years.
His wife Carolyn said it was a role he was destined to play.
"The first movie Eddie ever saw was Disney’s Pinocchio," she said during a phone interview from her California home.
After seeing the movie, which was originally released in 1940, Carroll came home and told his mother one day "Jiminy Cricket will be my friend," she said. And when he got the role of voicing Jiminy in 1973 "that little child with him that wanted to be Jiminy Cricket, now was Jiminy Cricket."
However, Carolyn Carroll does not want readers to only remember her husband as the voice of Jiminy Cricket. The talented actor also portrayed Jack Benny in a one-man show, "Jack Benny: Laughter is Bloom." And the show led the Carrolls to meeting Strickland.
"Brad and his wife would come to see the show," she said, adding a friend told Carroll to call Strickland and act like Benny.
"Eddie called, and Brad picked up the phone, and Eddie talked like Jack," Carolyn Carroll said. "Bless his heart, Eddie went on and on. And that’s how they got to know each other."
Then when Carroll was approached about writing a book chronicling her husband’s life, Strickland seemed the natural choice.
"They wanted to give me a ghost writer," she said. "I wanted it to be a real person, not a ghost."
So, she set to the task of compiling pictures and finding recorded and written interviews of her husband. Meanwhile, Strickland conducted interviews with several of Carroll’s contemporaries including Farr, Jack Benny’s daughter Joan and Bill Farmer, who is better recognized as the voice of Disney’s Goofy. The result of their hard work is a book filled with memories of Eddie Carroll.
"This isn’t my book," Carolyn Carroll said. "It is Eddie Carroll’s book.
"And I hope this portrays the fun and silliest (side) of Eddie Carroll."