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I Wanna Be a Sailor is a September 25, 1937 Warner Bros. cartoon film directed by Tex Avery. It stars a little parrot who wants to be just like his father, a sailor.[1]

I Wanna Be a Sailor
I Wanna Be a Sailor Blue Ribbon card.png
The April 30, 1949 reissue card.
Directed byFred Avery
Produced byLeon Schlesinger (uncredited in reissue)
Story byunknown
StarringElvia Allman, Mel Blanc, Billy Bletcher, Bernice Hansen, Robert Wrinkler (all uncredited)
Music byCarl Stalling, Milt Franklyn (uncredited)
Animation byBob Clampett
Color processTechnicolor
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
The Vitaphone Corporation
Release date
September 25, 1937 (Original release)
April 30, 1949 (Blue Ribbon re-release)
Running time



A mother parrot in a cage is teaching her three children to say, "Polly want a cracker." The first two kids, Patrick and Patricia, do so after some effort, but Peter boldly refuses: "I don't want a cracker! I wanna be a sailor, like my dad." His mother says no to this, telling him that his dad had set sail for Hawaii ("No, Maw, it was Catalina," he reminds her) after Peter and his siblings were born, and never returned. Nonetheless, Peter stubbornly stomps off to become a sailor. He accidentally bumps into a barrel, from which he builds a ship with a red pajama for a sail and a skull-and-crossbones label from a poison bottle for a Jolly Roger flag. He joins forces with an annoyingly loquacious duck (whom he silences by clamping his beak shut with a clothespin), and the two set sail on the lake, Peter as captain, the duck as deck-swab. They eventually find trouble in a thunderstorm (which the duck revels in, being more accustomed to water) and fall overboard, and Peter calls out for his "Momma." She comes running, but the duck has already saved him. Despite it all, Peter still wants to be a sailor.[2]


  • The voice of Peter Parrot was supplied by prolific child actor Robert "Bobby" Winckler, who had worked in more than 80 films and 200 radio shows with most of the stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood. His IMDB page is listed under his often-credited name Robert Winkler.[3]
  • The duck in this cartoon is often thought to be the same duck that appeared in the Porky Pig cartoons It's an Ill Wind[4][5][6] and Porky's Hotel, as well as She Was an Acrobat's Daughter.
  • During the storm sequence, the cartoon's soundtrack music includes a few bars from the second movement of Gioacchino Rossini's William Tell Overture.[7]
  • The mother parrot sings part of the chorus of the song "Poor Old Joe"[8] as she comes to Peter's rescue ("I'm coming...").
  • I Wanna Be a Sailor is the first Warner Bros. cartoon to end with the 1937-38 Merrily We Roll Along theme.
  • This cartoon is one of a handful of pre-1943 shorts to enter the public domain because United Artists, the owners of the short at the time, failed to renew the copyrights in time, though they had planned to do so.

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