When You Wish upon a Star

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"When You Wish upon a Star"
Single by Cliff Edwards
from the album Pinocchio
Released 1940 (1940)
Genre Soundtrack
Length 03:17
Label Victor, EMI
Writer(s) Leigh Harline
Ned Washington

"When You Wish upon a Star" is a song written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington for Walt Disney's 1940 adaptation of Pinocchio.[1] The original version was sung by Cliff Edwards in the character of Jiminy Cricket,[1] and is heard over the opening credits and in the final scene of the film. The song has since become the representative song of The Walt Disney Company. The recording by Cliff Edwards and Chorus was released by Victor Records as catalogue number 261546 and 26477A (in USA) and by EMI on the His Master's Voice Label as catalogue number BD 821.

Edwards recorded another version in 1940 for an American Decca Records "cover version" of the score of Pinocchio, conducted by Victor Young and featuring soprano Julietta Novis and The King's Men. It was first released on a 4-record 78-RPM album set, and years later as one side of an LP, backed by selections from The Wizard of Oz. A recording with Christian Rub (with Mister Geppetto's voice), Cliff Edwards and Chorus was released by Victor Records as catalogue number 26479B (in USA) and by EMI on the His Master's Voice label as catalogue number BD 823. It won the 1940 Academy Award for Best Original Song.[1] It was also the first Disney song to win an Oscar.


The American Film Institute ranked "When You Wish upon a Star" seventh in their 100 Greatest Songs in Film History, the highest ranked Disney animated film song, and also one of only four Disney animated film songs to appear on the list, the others being "Someday My Prince Will Come" from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs ranked at #19, "Beauty and the Beast" from Beauty and the Beast ranked at #62, and "Hakuna Matata" from The Lion King, ranked at #99.

The song reached the top one in Billboard's Record Buying Guide, a predecessor of the retail sales chart. Popular versions included Glenn Miller, Guy Lombardo, Horace Heidt and Cliff Edwards.

In Japan, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Denmark, the song has become a Christmas song, often referring to the Star of Bethlehem. The Swedish language version is called Ser du stjärnan i det blå, roughly translated: "Do you see the star in the blue", and the Danish title is "Når du ser et stjerneskud", which translates as "When you see a shooting star". In Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway the song is played on television every Christmas Eve in the traditional Disney one-hour Christmas cabaret From All of Us to All of You, and the gathering of the entire family to watch this is considered a Scandinavian tradition.

In 1986, Linda Ronstadt recorded the classic song for her Platinum-certified album For Sentimental Reasons. Released as the album's first single, it peaked at #32 in Billboard Magazine at year's end.

Eliane Elias included the song in her 1987 album Cross Currents.

The Library of Congress deemed the song "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and preserved it into the National Recording Registry in 2009.

Brian Wilson admits that the melody of The Beach Boys hit song, "Surfer Girl", which has the same AABA form,[2] is loosely based on the Dion and the Belmonts version of "When You Wish upon a Star".[3][4][5][6] Wilson also covered it on his album In the Key of Disney, which was released on October 25, 2011.

Disney icon

"When You Wish upon a Star", along with Mickey Mouse, has become an icon of The Walt Disney Company. In the 1950s and 1960s, Walt Disney used the song in the opening sequences of all the editions of the Walt Disney anthology television series. It has also been used to accompany the Walt Disney Pictures opening logos – including the present-day logo – since the 1980s. The ships of the Disney Cruise Line use the first seven notes of the song's melody as their horn signals. Additionally, many productions at Disney theme parks – particularly fireworks shows and parades – employ the song.


The piece has become a jazz standard.[7] It has been performed by artists including Louis Armstrong, June Christy, Dave Brubeck Quartet, Glenn Miller, Harry James, Joe Pass, the Keith Jarrett Trio, The Manhattan Transfer, Sun Ra, Jason Becker and Bill Evans.


The owner of the rights to the song, Bourne Co. Music Publishers, sued Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Fox Broadcasting Company, Fuzzy Door Productions, Cartoon Network, Walter Murphy and Seth MacFarlane to try to stop distribution of a 2003 Family Guy episode entitled "When You Wish upon a Weinstein" that parodies the song in a version called "I Need a Jew". A federal judge ruled against Bourne Co, stating that a parody of the song did not infringe on the company's copyright.[8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 134. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Philip Lambert, Inside the Music of Brian Wilson: The Songs, Sounds, and Influences of the Beach Boys' Founding Genius (Continuum, 2007):28.
  3. Brian Wilson, in @BrianWilsonLive, February 16, 2011: "We're doin' "When You Wish upon a Star" for the new album. It kinda inspired "Surfer Girl." – Brian".
  4. Philip Lambert, Inside the Music of Brian Wilson: The Songs, Sounds, and Influences of the Beach Boys' Founding Genius (Continuum, 2007):27.
  5. Jim Fusilli, Pet Sounds, Volume 19 of 33 1/3 (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005):23.
  6. Domenic Priore, Smile: The Story of Brian Wilson's Lost Masterpiece (Sanctuary, 2005):32.
  7. "When You Wish Upon A Star". Jazz Standards.com. Retrieved 2 March 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Owner of Wish Upon A Star Son Loses Lawsuit Yahoo News, March 16, 2009

External links