Joe Howard (born this day in 1867) started out as a kid performing in Bowery concert saloons, writing and singing his own songs. Later he brought these skills with him into vaudeville, where he worked with a long succession of partners, and to Broadway, where he wrote books, music and lyrics to many shows in the early years of the last century. The shows have been swallowed up by time, but many of the songs haven’t: “Hello My Baby” and “I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now?”, among them. As the decades wore on Howard, who lived to be 95, became something of an anomaly and was sought after as a nostalgia act, hosting numerous radio and television programs with a Gay Nineties theme in the 1940s and 50s. He passed away in 1961.
And now here’s what is — sadly — today the most well-known version of his most famous song, surpassing even the memory of Jolson’s:
To find out more about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.