Where did this pronunciation of “California,” with the final syllable stretched out to include long “I” and long “A” sounds, originate?

I’ve seen it occur in movies and on TV, and especially in song lyrics. I’m wondering if there was a specific movie or song that started this trend. How far back does the pronunciation go?

From 2Pac’s 1995 California Love:

As I always understood it, it’s incorporating the spelling of word, as is sometimes used in rap. It’s not so much the stretching of the syllables, just spelling out the end of the word, instead of pronouncing it.

Ya feel me?

Nope, dates back further than that. Beach Boys, “Fun, Fun, Fun” mentions Californ-I-A.

And further back still.Cowboy movies of the 30s/40s had at least one character saying he’s bound for Californeyeay.Usually the comic relief country bumpkin type.

Tho Gabby,and presumably his character from Blazing Saddles,used to say Californy.

This has been around a long time.

Sometimes it’s pronounced that way to make it rhyme as in Meredith Willson’s:

“I owe Iowa more than I can ever say,
So I think I’ll move to Californ-eye-ay.”

There’s a very old Dixieland tune called Lou-easy-an-i-a

And not just for California. Virginny and Alabammy were coined for precisely the same effect. People who added the the “ee” ending to their states names were tagged as bumpkins.

It got so commonplace that residents of Missouri started pronouncing their state name as “Missora,” so as not to be thought hayseeds, and that’s become a common in-state proununciation.

Yes, even further than the (19)40s. The folk song “Sweet Betsy from Pike” (from around the Gold Rush?) mentions “Califor-nye-ay”.