Jim Crow, Fats, Deacon, Dopey, and Specks are supporting characters in Disney's 1941 film, Dumbo. A flock of easy-going and boisterous crows, they initially heckle Timothy and Dumbo over the prospect of a flying elephant. Upon hearing Dumbo's story, however, the crows prove themselves to be warm-hearted and friendly. They act as surrogate father figures to Dumbo, and are responsible for teaching him how to fly.
The crows (who reside in a rural area) are generally good-natured, albeit with tendencies towards jokes and teasing, as was the case of Timothy and Dumbo. Ashamed of their initial behavior, however, the crows proved themselves to be excellent mentors by teaching Dumbo to fly through the use of psychological encouragement. Alongside Timothy, they provide Dumbo with much needed confidence and support, and it is their involvement that ultimately leads to Dumbo's rise to stardom, and reunion with his incarcerated mother.
As a group, they have a familial camaraderie, referring to themselves (and others close to them) as "brothers".
Jim Crow (voiced by Cliff Edwards) acts as the unofficial leader of the flock. With his trademark cigar, spats and bowler hat, Jim carries himself with a slick, self-assured and stylish flair. He has a commanding presence and does most of the talking amongst the group.
Fats gets his name from his rotund appearance. Donning an open-front red vest and blue hat, Fats has a deep, baritone voice and a jolly deposition.
The refined Deacon gets his name from his attire, which resembles that of a church deacon. He is the tallest of the crows and is often seen with his wings firmly tucked behind his back.
Dopey lives up to his namesake with his sloppy posture and clothing—his signature ensemble includes a yellow hat with a missing top, which is held up by Dopey's beak.
The zestfully youthful Specks is the shortest of the crows, named for his oversized, pink-lensed glasses. His small size makes him the frequent butt of the jokes.
The crows first appear in the woods where they spot Dumbo and Timothy sleeping in a tree. Fats, Deacon, Dopey and Specks are utterly confused at the sight, and so their leader, Jim Crow, flies down to investigate. Jim Crow wakes up Timothy with his smoking. The minute Timothy mentions "pink elephants", Jim and the crows fall into a knowing fit of laughter. Timothy remains too dazed to realize his predicament, until Jim notes that the former and an elephant are in a tree. Timothy and Dumbo plummet into a pond, garnering more laughs from the crows. As Timothy, thinking out loud, wonders how they ended up in the tree, Jim playfully suggest they flew. After a moment of thought, Timothy believes it and deduces that Dumbo used his giant ears to fly. The crows laugh at Timothy's wild theory, and start to sing "When I See an Elephant Fly" as a mock.
Furious with the crows' heckling, Timothy rebukes their behavior. He shares Dumbo's background with the crows, who are immediately effected and moved to tears. Ashamed of their mockery, Jim tries to make amends and offers to help Dumbo fly. Through the use of psychological trickery and a feather from Specks, Jim grants Timothy a "magic feather", which they claim will make Dumbo fly. In reality, it is merely a token to encourage and increase Dumbo's confidence. The crows take Dumbo to a nearby cliff, where he attempts to take off. After the dust clears, Timothy finds that Dumbo is actually flying, while the crows fly beside them and excitedly proclaim that they've seen everything—thus, singing a reprise of their song, "When I See an Elephant Fly". The crows see Dumbo back to the circus and openly anticipate the audiences' reaction to a flying elephant.
Afterwards, Dumbo's ability to fly makes him a national icon. His fame and fortune (headed by his manager, Timothy) allows for the release of his mother, Mrs. Jumbo. While preparing to ride off on Casey Junior with his mother, Dunbo takes flight with the crows during a final reprise of "When I See an Elephant Fly". Once Dumbo and Mrs. Jumbo are reunited, the two elephants wave goodbye to the crows. While seeing them off, Jim remarks that he never got Dumbo's autograph until Fats assures him that he himself got his autograph to which Jim joyfully replies to Dumbo: "Well, so long glamour boy!"
In the animated series, the crows appeared as recurring guests, usually seen flying with Dumbo in crowd shots.
Their most notable role is in the episode "Donald Wants to Fly", where Donald Duck tries to fly. Upon seeing this, Jim jokes with the other crows that he's seen nearly everything fly, but he may never see Donald fly.
The crows make a cameo appearance in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. They are seen playing the background music of Jessica Rabbit's song "Why Don't You Do Right?". Jim Crow, Deacon and Specks can also be spotted during the final scenes, hidden amongst the crowd of toons.
- In the original novel, an owl named Professor Hoot was the one that taught Dumbo how to fly.
- Freddy and Eugene Jackson served as their models.
- None of the crows' names were given in the film, though their names can be seen on model sheets used by the animators and in scripts.
- Jim's name was changed to "Dandy Crow" in later years in attempt to avoid controversy. However, the name never caught on, and thus "Jim" remained as is.
- Jim's voice actor, Cliff Edwards, was also the voice of Jiminy Cricket in one of Walt Disney's earlier features, Pinocchio.
- Dopey shares his name with the youngest of the seven dwarfs in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
- The crows' developed relationship with Dumbo from wise-cracking hecklers to supporting allies would later inspire an identical relationship in The Jungle Book, with the vultures and Mowgli. On the audio commentary for the DVD release of The Jungle Book, Richard Sherman compared the two, calling the concept "classic Disney".
- Dumbo is often criticized as racist for the inclusion of the black crows as African-American caricatures; specifically the naming of Jim, which is a reference to the infamous Jim Crow laws. However, many critics, pundits and personalities reject these criticisms, noting that the majority of the crows are portrayed by African American actors (with the exception of Cliff Edwards) and their lead animator described them as being spoofs of many black entertainers at the time, with their clothes being based on 1930-40s fashion, such as Jim's bowler hat and spats. The crows are sympathetic towards Dumbo's plight - it is in fact Timothy whom they mock with their song, for taking Jim's joke seriously, and there's no way they could have known about Dumbo's tragic history before Timothy's lecture.
- When accepting her Disney Legends award in 2017, Whoopi Goldberg expressed her desire to see the crows appear on more merchandise by Disney.
- ↑ Dumbo: Big Top Edition DVD commentary