“Princess Poo-Poo-Ly has plenty papaya, and she likes to give it away.”
Minoco Production’s Jack Barry certainly stuck his neck out with this title … and because it has a wartime theme, we do not have censorship information available. But you can bet your last papaya that the six or seven state and local censorship boards that reviewed Soundies did not like this one!
Harry Owen’s “Princess Poo-Poo-Ly Has Plenty Papaya (And She Likes to Give It Away)” is a fairly typical (and popular) double-entendre song from the 1940s, although in its screen adaptation here, the lyrics seem far clearer in intent [read “obvious”] than on some of the recordings of the 1940s and ‘50s. Many recordings of the tune maintain a Hawaiian musical feel, although the Smoothies approach is here strictly swing and in the groove. The reviewer for Billboard was either being polite or just didn’t get it: “It hasn’t got much sense, unless it is on the suggestive side.”
The Smoothies, featured in this Soundie, was a very successful close vocal harmony group that started in the early 1930s as a part of Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians. The group included Babs, Charles and Little (Melvyn) Ryan … although other female vocalists later held the female vocal chair in the trio. (In the summer of 1942, when this Soundie was produced, Bernice Niles appeared as “Babs Ryan.”) The trio recorded as Babs and Her Brothers in 1935, worked with Art Jarrett and Hal Kemp’s band, then toured as a featured solo act. They were popular on record and radio, performing nationwide until the end of the 1940s.
Orchestra leader Frank Denning is a bit of a mystery, although his band can be heard on twenty-six Minoco soundtracks in 1942. The 12-piece band was not a unit that appeared in public, and the presence in the band of musicians who were on staff at CBS suggests that Denning was somehow connected with CBS radio.
I would add a few more details but I am pressed for time. Off to get me some tasty papaya.