Professor publishes book honoring Disney legend
Dr. Brad Strickland has co-written and had published "Wishing on a Star: The Life of Eddie Carroll," an actor best known as the voice of Walt Disney character and spokesman Jiminy Cricket.
Strickland, a professor of English at the University of North Georgia, began working with Carroll's wife, Carolyn Carroll, after the actor passed away in 2010. Together they researched his life and career, and interviewed numerous friends of Carroll, including Jamie Farr, who played Klinger in M*A*S*H, and Bill Farmer, the voice of Disney's Goofy.
"The process took more than a year, due to the fact that Eddie was a generous, warm, friendly, unpretentious man who had great talent and told wonderful stories," Strickland said. "What Carolyn and I most wanted was to preserve those stories and present an account of Eddie’s philosophy and approach to life, which was always optimistic and always dedicated both to his craft and to his family."
In 2001, while autographing books in Florida, Strickland met a friend of Carroll's who encouraged him to go see a one-man showed titled "Laughter in Bloom," in which Eddie Carroll portrayed old-time radio star Jack Benny. Following a surprise phone call from Carroll acting as Jack Benny, Strickland saw "Laughter in Bloom," and later worked with the Gainesville Theatre Alliance to bring the show to Gainesville.
"From then on, whenever we were near enough, my wife and I would arrange to have a meal with Carolyn and Eddie," Strickland said.
Strickland said Carroll's story fascinates him, because though Carroll was always a working actor, he was not considered "in the ordinary sense of the word, a star." He had a long and successful career and millions of people—without knowing it—have heard his voice, whether from his early days as a voice-over actor in radio commercials to appearing onscreen in hundreds of television commercials to his great success as Jiminy Cricket, Strickland said.
"He was just as delighted at his success as he would have been as an international movie idol," Strickland said. "He was very down to earth; once, he said 'People like George Clooney or Brad Pitt are blessed with movie-star looks. I look like Joe Anybody, so I had to do what I could with what I had.'"
The book adds to Strickland's total of more than 65 published novels, and is now available in paperback and Kindle.
"Eddie's life was inspirational, and Carolyn's amazing energy and dedication in writing and editing along with me made it all possible," Strickland said. "I'm grateful for the chance she gave me to help memorialize a good friend and a good man."