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The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Michael O'Herlihy
Produced by Bill Anderson
Screenplay by Lowell S. Hawley
Story by Lowell S. Hawley
Michael O'Herlihy
Starring Walter Brennan
Buddy Ebsen
Lesley Ann Warren
John Davidson
Music by Songs:
Richard M. Sherman
Robert B. Sherman
Jack Elliott
Cinematography Frank V. Phillips
Editing by Cotton Warburton
Studio Walt Disney Productions
Distributed by Buena Vista Distribution
Release date(s) March 21, 1968 (1968-03-21) (Radio City Music Hall)
Running time 110 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Money made $2,250,000 (US/ Canada)

The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band is a 1968 American live-action musical film from Walt Disney Productions. Distributed by Buena Vista Distribution, the film is based on a biography by Laura Bower Van Nuys, directed by Michael O'Herlihy, with original music and lyrics by the Sherman Brothers. Set against the backdrop of the 1888 presidential election, the film portrays the musically talented Bower family, American pioneers who settle in the Dakota Territory.

Walter Brennan, Buddy Ebsen, Lesley Ann Warren and John Davidson head the cast. Kurt Russell is also featured, and, in a bit part, Goldie Hawn makes her big-screen debut.


The Bower Family Band petitions the Democratic National Committee to sing a rally song for President Grover Cleveland at the party's 1888 convention. On the urging of Joe Carder, a journalist and suitor to eldest Bower daughter Alice, the family decides instead to move to the Dakota Territory. There, Grandpa Bower, a staunch Democrat, causes trouble with his pro-Cleveland sentiments. The Dakota residents are overwhelmingly Republican, and they hope to get the territory admitted as two states (North and South Dakota) rather than one (so as to send four Republican senators to Washington rather than two). Grandpa's actions result in family strife, including nearly costing Alice her position as the town's new school teacher. The budding romance between Joe and Alice also suffers. In the end, more ballots are cast for Cleveland, but Republican nominee Benjamin Harrison nonetheless wins the Electoral College vote and the presidency. Before he leaves office, Cleveland grants statehood to both the two Dakotas, along with Montana and Washington, evening the gains for both parties. The Dakotans, particularly the feuding young couple, resolve to live together in peace.


  • Walter Brennan - Renssaeler Bower
  • Buddy Ebsen - Calvin Bower
  • John Davidson - Joe Carder
  • Lesley Ann Warren - Alice Bower
  • Janet Blair - Katie Bower
  • Kurt Russell - Sidney Bower
  • Steve Harmon - Ernie Stubbins
  • Richard Deacon - Charlie Wrenn
  • Wally Cox - Wampler
  • Debbie Smith - Lulu Bower
  • Bobby Riha - Mayo Bower
  • Smith Wordes - Nettie Bower
  • Heidi Rook - Rose Bower
  • Jon Walmsley - Quinn Bower
  • Pamelyn Ferdin - Laura Bower
  • John Craig - Frank
  • William Woodson - Henry White
  • Goldie Hawn (as Goldie Jeanne Hawn) - Giggly Girl
  • Jonathan Kidd - Telegrapher


"The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band" The film opens with Grandpa conducting all ten members of the Bower family, each playing a different musical instrument. Practicing in their barn, the family dances among the animals and hay, boasting of their unique talents and versatility.

"The Happiest Girl Alive" Alice expresses her intense emotions over receiving her latest letter from suitor Joe Carder.

"Let's Put It Over with Grover" The Bowers perform this Grover Cleveland campaign song to a representative from the Democratic National Committee.

"Ten Feet off the Ground" Ecstatic at the prospect of performing at the National Convention, the family band engages in an impromptu celebration. They sing about the feeling which only music can bestow, figuratively lifting them "Ten Feet off the Ground". (This was one of two songs from the film covered by Louis Armstrong later in 1968.)

"Dakota" Joe Carder entices local Missouri families, singing about the marvels of the Dakota Territory. ("Dakota" is similar in style to the title song of the Oklahoma! and was once considered as a candidate for "state song" for South Dakota.)

"'Bout Time" Joe Carder expresses his devotion to Alice, telling her it's "'Bout Time" they were engaged, she responds in kind, and the two sing this duet. (This song was covered by Louis Armstrong and was later featured in the 2005 film, Bewitched.)

"Drummin' Drummin' Drummin'" Grandpa Bower recounts the tale of a young drummer boy during the Civil War, inspiring all the children in the school house that they too can stand their ground and make a difference.

"West o' the Wide Missouri" On election night, locals dance and celebrate their part in American expansionism West o' the Wide Missouri.

"Oh, Benjamin Harrison" The Republicans in town have their own campaign song; they sing their praise for Benjamin Harrison, who is "far beyond comparison."

The original cast soundtrack was released on Buena Vista Records in stereo (STER-5002) and mono (BV-5002). Disneyland Records released a second cast album with studio singers and arrangements by Tutti Camarata, with both mono (DQ-1316) and stereo (STER-1316) versions. Neither the soundtrack or the second cast album have been released on CD or to iTunes.

Literary sources

  • Van Nuys, Laura Bower (1961). The Family Band : from the Missouri to the Black Hills, 1881-1900. Pioneer Heritage Series, vol. 5. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
  • Sherman, Robert B. (1998). Walt's Time: from before to beyond. Santa Clarita: Camphor Tree Publishers, pgs. 148–149.
  • Gheiz, Didier (2009). Walt's People - Volume 8. Xlibris Corporation, pgs. 203, 206–207, 247.
  • Schroder, Russell (2008). Disney's Lost Chords Volume 2. Robbinsville, North Carolina: Voigt Publications, pgs. 17–25.
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