Today is the birthday of songwriter Sam H. Stept (1898-1964). Born in Russia and raised in Pittsburg, Stept started out in vaudeville as a song plugger and accompanist for the likes of Mae West and Jack Norworth. For awhile in the 1920s he led a dance band based out of Cleveland. With his first songwriting partner Bud Green he co-wrote his first hit “That’s My Weakness Now”, popularized by Helen Kane in 1928. For the next twenty years he continued to pound out tunes for Broadway and Hollywood, including “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else But Me)”, “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone” and “Johnny Get Your Gun”, The most successful of the Broadway shows bearing his credit was Yokel Boy (1939) starring Buddy Ebsen and Judy Canova. Stept’s last years were spent managing his song royalties.
To find out more about vaudeville past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.
And don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc