Elmer Elephant is a Silly Symphonies cartoon short produced by The Walt Disney Company, directed by Wilfred Jackson and released on March 28, 1936.
The short tells the story of a timid elephant named Elmer. In this story, he is invited to Tillie Tiger’s birthday party, bringing her a bouquet of flowers. Tillie loves Elmer, but the other animal kids make fun of his nose (trunk) and cruelly mock him when Tillie isn’t around to defend him. Brokenhearted by their teasing, Elmer leaves the party and cries in front of the nearby pond, but is reassured by a nearby giraffe who admits to him that he used to suffer the same teasing about his neck. Just then, a fire breaks out at Tillie’s tree-house with her still in it, and the rescue efforts by the other children prove futile. With the help of the giraffe and some pelicans who resemble Jimmy Durante, Elmer successfully puts out the fire and rescues Tillie.
Elmer would later go on to star in a serial in the Silly Symphonies comic strip, even getting his own strip which did not last long. And like the Three Little Pigs before him, he would also become a popular character in merchandising. However, with the exceptions of the crowd shots in the later Silly Symphonies short Toby Tortoise Returns and a cameo appearance in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Elmer was never again featured in animation. (He never even appeared in crowd shots on House of Mouse.)
Today, the Elmer Elephant short can be viewed on the Silly Symphonies DVD set in the first wave of the Walt Disney Treasures line. It has also been included as a bonus feature, alongside fellow Silly Symphony short The Flying Mouse, on both DVD releases for Dumbo. From 1983 through 1997, his short was also the featured subject of DTV’s music video of “Owner of a Lonely Heart” by Yes.
The monkeys and ostriches that appear in the Elmer Elephant short have been pointed out as resembling characters created for Nintendo’s Donkey Kong Country in the ’90s.