Alvin and Chipmunks still squeaking 50 years on

Tue Mar 30, 2010 9:52am EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - They might be small and furry but their high-pitched voices are reaching a huge worldwide audience.

More than 50 years after the mischievous Chipmunks were born as a novelty song, the animated trio have squeaked up a $1 billion empire of more than 45 million records, TV shows, and live action movies -- all with the very loud catch-phrase "Aaallvviinn!"

Their latest movie outing, "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel", arrives on DVD on Tuesday (March 30) packed with sing-alongs, behind the scenes features and interviews.

The enduring appeal is mostly because they are not simply talking animals, but creatures with a heart, said their human parents, Ross Bagdasarian Jr. and his wife Janice Karman.

"The characters deal with emotions like pain, happiness, jealousy and family relationships in every show or movie that we do. The fact we are touching on subjects that people can always relate to and are timeless, is something that keeps the characters alive," Karman told Reuters.

The Chipmunks -- Alvin, Simon and Theodore -- were created in 1958 by Bagdasarian's father, Ross Bagdasarian Sr., and had their first hit with a novelty record called "The Chipmunk Song". The trio went on to star in a TV cartoon series and later a Christmas special, dozens of music albums, a live stage show and their first feature film in 1987.

What also distinguishes the Chipmunks and their female singing rivals, The Chipettes, from a crowded market of anthropomorphic hamsters, cats and pandas, is their voices.

But as Chipettes voice actresses Amy Poehler, Christina Applegate and Anna Faris soon found out found for the 2009 movie, getting the right amount of squeak is harder (and slower) than one might think.   Continued...

<p>Actors Robert Downey Jr. and Zoe Saldana announce "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" as winner of the Favorite Movie Award at the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards in Los Angeles March 27, 2010. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>