Jiminy Cricket is one of the most iconic recurring Disney characters in history. The polite and gentlemanly talking cricket that helped the puppet Pinocchio become a real little boy has been teaching children how to listen to their conscience since 1940.
The cricket was initially a minor character in The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. In the book, Pinocchio actually steps on the unnamed cricket and kills him. Luckily, Walt Disney took some liberties in his 1940 film adaptation of the classic Italian story.
In the Disney film, Jiminy Cricket makes his way into Geppetto's home and workshop for a place to sleep. When the woodcarver wishes upon the wishing star for a "real boy," the little marionette Pinocchio comes to life. Jiminy joins him on his adventures throughout the film on his quest to become a real boy after being appointed by the Blue Fairy to serve as Pinocchio's conscience.
His name was based on the expression "Jiminy Cricket!" (a more polite version of "Jesus Christ!"), which is actually used by some of the dwarfs in the 1937 film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. An animator named Ward Kimball was prepared to quit Disney after many of his animations were cut from Snow White. But Disney gave him the special assignment of animating the talking cricket in his next film. Kimball made Jiminy look pretty much nothing like a real cricket. His Disney-fied take is green, has no long antennae and dresses like a tiny gentleman with an umbrella and top hat. And because it's Disney, he's got some serious pipes.
Cliff Edwards first brought Jiminy to life in the film Pinocchio and continued to voice the character in other Disney projects through the '60s. Most importantly, he sang "When You Wish Upon a Star," which has become one of the most nostalgic Disney songs of all time. After Edwards passed away, Clarence Nash, most notably known for voicing Disney's Donald Duck, took over. Eddie Carroll took over in 1973 and continued to voice the tiny cricket until his death in 2010. Phil Snyder took over briefly, but after he retired from acting, Joe Ochman took over the role and has voiced Jiminy since 2014.
It's pretty incredible that Disney was able to turn a nameless character from the original story of Pinocchio into a character nearly as synonymous with Walt Disney as Mickey Mouse himself. You could almost say he became the official conscience of Disney as a whole. Over the years, Jiminy has made countless appearances in other Disney films. In the 1950s, he was even the star of educational programming for school children, the I'm No Fool series. Jiminy taught kiddos everything they needed to know about crossing the street, strangers, electricity and more. Some of these programs were even broadcast on The Mickey Mouse Club.
In addition to a cameo in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Jiminy served as the Ghost of Christmas Past in Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983), helping Scrooge McDuck discover the meaning of Christmas. He also showed up multiple times in the TV series House of Mouse as well as multiple Disney themed video games including the Kingdom Hearts series and Disney's Villains' Revenge.
While the character makes appearances on the screen, he is also a prominent fixture in the Disney parks. He leads you through "Pinocchio's Daring Journey" in Disneyland and hosts Wishes: A Magical Gathering of Disney Dreams firework show at Magic Kingdom Orlando's Disney castle with the Blue Fairy. You can also take your picture with him as he is a regular cast member greeting guests.