Cliff Edwards was born in Hannibal, Missouri. He left school at age 14 and soon after moved to St. Louis, Missouri where he entertained as a singer in saloons. As many places had pianos in bad shape or none at all, Edwards taught himself to play ukelele to serve as his own accompanist. He got the nickname "Ukelele Ike" from a club owner who couldn't remember his name.
Edwards made his first phonograph records in 1919. He recorded early examples of jazz scat singing in 1922. The following year he was signed to a contract with Pathe Records. He became one of the most popular singers of the decade, during which he also appeared in several Broadway shows.
In 1932 Cliff Edwards got his first national radio show on CBS. Edwards would continue having network radio shows off and on through 1946. However with the start of the Great Depression Edwards' popularity faded as public taste shifted to sweeter style crooners like Bing Crosby, Russ Columbo, and Rudy Vallee.
In 1939 Edwards played the character "Edicott" in the screwball comedy film His Girl Friday. Edwards voice was also featured in two other films that year; he voiced the dying Confederate soldier in Gone With the Wind, and most famously the character Jiminy Cricket in the Disney Studios cartoon feature Pinocchio. In 1941 he voiced the crow in Disney's Dumbo.
Sadly, he had completely disappeared from the public eye at the time of his death.