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The Skeleton Dance

Updated on October 5, 2014

Origin and Variations of The Skeleton Dance

I first discovered the Skeleton Dance when a friend shared a link on Facebook. It was the version with the music from The Guess Who, and to me it was hilarious! I did a little investigating and discovered how old the cartoon actually was! Not only did it originate in the 1920s, but was actually considered really scary at the time. Since to me it was funny, not scary at all, I could not imagine why. Then I watched it with the original music and sounds. Incredible how much difference that makes~!

It's fun to watch and share and will really get you in the Halloween mood!

It is not really "scary" but much more "scary-ish" with the original music. I guess people were spooked a lot easier back then? Either way. It's a fun cartoon. Let's explore, shall we?

Silly Symphonies was a series of cartoons created by Walt Disney and his then partner Ubi Iwerk. The Skeleton Dance was one of these. The most famous character that came out of the Silly Symphonies series was Donald Duck. If you've seen Donald Duck, then you've got an idea how funny The Skeleton Dance might be.

Like other "musical shorts" from the dawn of picture and sound era, there is no dialogue. In a way it's one of the first music videos.

Ub Iwerk
Ub Iwerk

The Creator of The Skeleton Dance

Ub Iwerk

Ub Iwerk was most famous for creating Mickey Mouse! He was a longtime friend of Walt Disney, who first worked with him at Pesman Art Studio in Kansas City, and later went into business with him. The Skeleton Dance was created around the same time as Mickey Mouse as part of the "Silly Symphonies" series, and, like the early Mickey Mouse cartoons, was animated by Mr. Iwerk.

Isn't the Owl a "Hoot"?

Shakin' all Over
Shakin' all Over

skeletons party until the rise of the sun, where they frantically rush back into their graves,


Walt Disney Treasures - Silly Symphonies

Walt Disney Treasures - Silly Symphonies
Walt Disney Treasures - Silly Symphonies

"these musical shorts served as Walt Disney's proving ground for emerging technology, new musical styles, and experimental forms....a nostalgic look back at the original musical shorts that launched a revolution in the world of animation."


About the Song "Shakin' all Over"

Shakin' all Over was written by Johnny Kidd and recorded by his band Johnny Kidd & the Pirates in 1960. It was a hit in Europe but did not get much play in the United States. It was covered in 1965 by the Guess Who and became a hit (#1 in Canada, #22 in the U.S.) It was the Guess Who version that revived the old "Skeleton Dance" filmstrip and re-popularized it on Youtube in recent years. The song was covered again in 2011 by Wanda Jackson.

The song is only about two and a half minutes, and since the original Skeleton Dance is five minutes long, they cut quite a bit out. Both versions are hilarious.

The Chorus: Shakin' all Over

Quivers down my backbone

I got the shakes in my thigh bone

I got the shivers in my knee bone

Shakin' all over

Guess Who - Shakin' all over

Fun Game! Move Cursor to Make the Skeleton Dance

Fun Game!  Move Cursor to Make the Skeleton Dance
Fun Game! Move Cursor to Make the Skeleton Dance

The Dancing Skeleton

Go to to play.

It's really fun to try different ways to make the skeleton dance. There are options for "anti gravity" (which is my favorite) which make him a little more graceful, but he's still pretty funny looking. The music accompanying is fun too. It's all piano, and some of it is scary sounding, other is more classical. It's a fun way to "trip out" for a quick break. I love it!

........The Ghost of John .......... (an old folk song)

Have you Seen the Ghost of John

Long White Bones and the Rest All Gone

Oh O o o o Oh

Wouldn't It be Chilly

With No Skin On

The Original - Skeleton Dance Cartoon

Walt Disney's "The Skeleton Dance" circa 1929, (from the Silly Symphonies series) with original music.

A risen moon and spooky old owl set the scene..... take a look at both versions with the different music. What a difference the sound makes! This version, the original, has some awesome sound effects that really make it fun and creepy!

The Original Skeleton Dance Poster

The Original Skeleton Dance Poster
The Original Skeleton Dance Poster

By Request! - Jason and the Argonauts - VS the Skeletons

Funny fighting skeletons scene. I had not seen it before. It really is hilarious!

Have You Seen a Skeleton Dance? - Please Add your Comment!

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    • EMangl profile image

      EMangl 5 years ago


    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Now I remember the skeleton dance....and that music from the original is making my heart beat faster, whew! What fun!

    • andreaberrios lm profile image

      andreaberrios lm 6 years ago

      Love the skeleton for Halloween parties ;)

    • Nightcat profile image

      Nightcat 6 years ago

      Awesome lens! I remember seeing this years ago thank you for sharing!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I remember seeing a BBC2 programme in a series of modern dance studio productions. The dance sequence started and a group of "Skeleton" figures trooped on a few minutes in, It must have been based on the silly symphony cartoon. .....Does anyone remember it ? I want to see it again but can find no reference to it, and since computers took over it seems impossible to "ask" the beeb for any info , once upon a time they had real voices over the telephone and could answer questions.... someone would have the knowledge ! Now nobody knows anything...they just use the keyboard and retain nowt in the 'ead ....

    • DreamingBoomer profile image

      Karen Kay 7 years ago from Jackson, MS

      @CCGAL: Thanks so much Janelle! I am honored!

    • kateloving profile image

      Kate Loving Shenk 7 years ago from Lancaster PA

      Very funny!! Thanks Janelle for recommending it!!

    • CCGAL profile image

      CCGAL 7 years ago

      This is way cool - I haven't seen that Disney version in 40 years, I think. What was super fun for me, though, was the skeleton marionette in the video collection. I remember having seen him or one like him before, and it was so much fun I had to watch it twice. Very enjoyable time spent here today.

    • WDBurns profile image

      WDBurns 7 years ago

      Love the lens.

      I think the 'Jason and the Argonauts' skeleton scence should get a mention.

    • Amy Fricano profile image

      Amy Fricano 7 years ago from WNY

      Wonderful idea. I did not know all this about the song.

    • profile image

      jgelien 7 years ago

      Now I have and they are really cute. What a fun lens!

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 7 years ago from West Virginia

      Not until today; they sure are fun. Lensrolling to my Halloween Skeleton Costumes.

    • DreamingBoomer profile image

      Karen Kay 7 years ago from Jackson, MS

      @MargoPArrowsmith: Cool! Thank you Margo! Will see if I can find a clip from it and add to lens!

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 7 years ago

      There was a Hercules type movie years ago that had skeletons dancing. One of the first instances of really good special effects. Thumbs up

    • DreamingBoomer profile image

      Karen Kay 7 years ago from Jackson, MS

      @Virginia Allain: Great Idea! Will do that! Thanks Vallain!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 7 years ago from Central Florida

      I think you should add some skeleton costumes to this, then people could dress up and perform their own skeleton dance.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 7 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Fun lens! Love the skeleton dance - both the scary version and the "tame" one. SquidAngel blessings for putting some work into this lens!

    • profile image

      bdkz 7 years ago

      Congratulations! You've been SquidBoo Blasted. Happy Halloween!

    • Missmerfaery444 profile image

      Missmerfaery444 7 years ago

      This has reminded me of when we had to do a skeleton dance at primary school! And then we had to write a poem about it as I recall. Great to see the old Disney cartoon. Great lens!