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Jack Sheldon (born November 30, 1931) is an American bebop and West Coast jazz trumpeter, singer, and actor. He is a trumpet player and was the music director on The Merv Griffin Show, as well as the voice heard on several episodes of the educational music television series Schoolhouse Rock!

Jack Sheldon
Bubba Kolb, Jack Sheldon, Ira sullivan.jpg
Bubba Kolb, Jack Sheldon (center), and Ira Sullivan, Village Jazz Lounge, Walt Disney World, c. 1980s
Background information
Born (1931-11-30) November 30, 1931 (age 87)
Jacksonville, Florida
Occupation(s)Musician, singer, comedian, actor
InstrumentsTrumpet, vocals
Associated actsMerv Griffin



Jack Sheldon at Palo Alto CA Jazz Festival September 26, 1987

Music and TVEdit

Sheldon was born in Jacksonville, Florida. He originally became known through his participation in the West Coast jazz movement of the 1950s, performing and recording with such figures as Art Pepper, Gerry Mulligan, and Curtis Counce. Sheldon played the trumpet, sang, and performed on The Merv Griffin Show. He was Griffin's sidekick for many years.

His voice is perhaps best known from the Schoolhouse Rock! cartoons of the 1970s, such as "Conjunction Junction" and "I'm Just a Bill". He appeared in one episode of Johnny Bravo as the Sensitive Man. He sang a few songs in the episode similar to the Schoolhouse Rock! style. Sheldon returned to the Schoolhouse Rock! series for a 2002 episode titled "I'm Gonna Send Your Vote to College", explaining the electoral college process, and distributed on the series' DVD collection that same year. Sheldon sang and played trumpet for the new segment.

Sheldon voiced "Louie the Lightning Bug" in a series of animated musical public service announcements aimed at children during the 1980s, promoting safety with electricity.[1] In 2001, the "Louie the Lightning Bug" videos were updated with new voice-overs by Sheldon and new music tracks produced by Mark Harrelson, with updated musical arrangements by Ray Reach.

He sang the tune "King Putt" for The World According to Goofy Parade at Disneyland, which ran for five months in 1992. A trumpet solo of his is featured throughout the Francis Ford Coppola film, One from the Heart (1982). Tom Waits' 1977 album Foreign Affairs includes Sheldon playing trumpet on several cuts, including the solo at the end of "Burma Shave".

In the 1964–1965 season, Sheldon starred with Cara Williams and Frank Aletter on the CBS situation comedy, The Cara Williams Show in which Williams and Aletter played a married couple trying to keep their marriage a secret because their employer forbade husband and wife from working together. From 1966–1967, Sheldon starred in his own 16-episode CBS sitcom, Run, Buddy, Run, as Buddy Overstreet, a young accountant taking a steam bath who, overhearing a mobster's plot to kill a colleague, then goes on the run to keep from being killed. Bruce Gordon, formerly of The Untouchables played the mobster, "Mr. D". He made numerous appearances on the 1967–1970 version of Dragnet. He also played John Davidson and Sally Field's brother on The Girl with Something Extra (1974). In 2004, he performed live at the end of ALF's Hit Talk Show.


Sheldon appeared in an Oscar-nominated documentary film Let's Get Lost about the life of fellow jazz trumpeter Chet Baker. He made an appearance in the 1994 film Radioland Murders as the ill-fated trumpet player Ruffles Reedy, who becomes a victim of the gruesome goings-on during a 1939 radio show.

Sheldon performed one of the many versions of the title song featured in Robert Altman's 1973 film The Long Goodbye. His version was intended to be released as a single, but never was.[2]

Sheldon is the subject of a documentary, Trying to Get Good: the Jazz Odyssey of Jack Sheldon (2008). Produced by Doug McIntyre and Penny Peyser, the film features interviews with Clint Eastwood, Billy Crystal, Merv Griffin, Chris Botti, Dave Frishberg, Johnny Mandel, Tierney Sutton, as well as never before seen concert footage of Sheldon playing, singing and joking. Trying to Get Good won Jury Prizes at the 2008 Kansas City Film Makers Jubilee and Newport Beach Film Festival, as well as Audience Prizes at Newport Beach and the Indianapolis International Film Festival.


Sheldon parodied his own performance in "I'm Just a Bill" in an episode of The Simpsons called "The Day the Violence Died", where he is an "amendment to be". He reprised his roles as the Bill and the Conductor from "Conjunction Junction" in two episodes of Family Guy.


As leaderEdit

  • Jack Sheldon Quintet (Jazz: West, 1955)
  • The Quartet and the Quintet (Jazz: West, 1956)
  • A Jazz Band Ball with Stu Williamson (Mode, 1959)
  • A Jazz Profile of Ray Charles (Reprise, 1961)
  • Jack's Groove (GNP, 1961)
  • Out! (Capitol, 1962)
  • Oooo, But it's Good (Capitol, 1963)
  • The Warm World of Jack Sheldon (Dot, 1968)
  • The Cool World of Jack Sheldon (Dot, 1969)
  • Singular (Beez, 1980)
  • Playin' It Straight (RealTime, 1981)
  • Stand By for Jack Sheldon (Concord Jazz, 1983)
  • Hollywood Heroes (Concord Jazz, 1988)
  • On My Own (Concord Jazz, 1992)
  • Jack Sheldon Sings (Butterfly, 1993)
  • Jack Sheldon Presents The Entertainers (V.S.O.P., 1994)
  • Jack is Back! (Butterfly, 1995)
  • Live at Don Mupo's Gold Nugget (V.S.O.P., 1997)
  • Playing for Change (Uptown, 1997)
  • JSO Live! On the Pacific Ocean (Butterfly, 2001)
  • Sunday Afternoons at the Lighthouse (Woofy, 2005)
  • Listen Up (Butterfly, 2006)
  • It's What I Do (Buttefly, 2007)

As guestEdit

With Curtis Counce

With Jimmy Giuffre

With Stan Kenton

With Tom Waits

With others


  • 1962 : Music of the 60's : 3rd trumpet and featured soloist on several tunes
  • 1966-1967 : Run, Buddy, Run (TV) : Buddy Overstreet (series star - all 13 episodes)
  • 1967 : Dragnet (TV) : Various Characters (unknown episodes)
  • 1969 : Under the Yum Yum Tree (TV) : Charlie Prokter
  • 1969-1970 : Petticoat Junction (TV) : Freddie Kirby, Ronald "Ronnie" Coleman (episodes: The Organ Fund, Selma Plout’s Plot)
  • 1973-2009 : Schoolhouse Rock! (TV series) : Conductor/The Bill/Additional Voices (voice)
  • 1973 : The Girl with Something Extra (TV series) : Jerry Burton (unknown episodes)
  • 1976 : Freaky Friday : Lloyd
  • 1988 : Star Trek: The Next Generation (TV) : Holodeck Pianist (11001001)
  • 1991 : For the Boys : Wally Fields
  • 1993 : Lush Life (TV) : Norman
  • 1994 : Radioland Murders : Ruffles Reed
  • 1996 : Dear God : Homeless Trumpeter
  • 1996 : The Simpsons (TV series) : The Amendment (voice) (episode: The Day the Violence Died)
  • 1997 : Johnny Bravo (TV series) (voice)
  • 1998 : Hard Time (TV) : Trumpet
  • 1998 : Mike Hammer (TV) episode(s) “Songbird” parts 1-2 Co-starred w/Keach as “Des” Bandleader/Trumpet player/ Singer.
  • 1999 : Hard Time: The Premonition (TV) : Trumpet
  • 1999 : Hard Time: Hostage Hotel (TV) : Trumpet
  • 2000-2001 : Family Guy (TV series) : Conductor/The Bill (voice) (episodes: Running Mates, Mr. Griffin Goes to Washington)
  • 2004 : Teacher's Pet : Vocals on Song- "Take the Money and Run"
  • 2010 : A Girl's Life: Ford Mosquito (voice)


External linksEdit