Today is the birthday of the great Tin Pan Alley songwriter Vincent Youmans (1898-1946). The privileged son of a prosperous hat manufacturer, he attended Yale briefly then worked on Wall Street before being drafted into the army during World War One. While serving he got involved in producing theatricals for the troops, which led him to pursue the theatre as a career after the war. He first worked as a songplugger, and also as a rehearsal pianist for Victor Herbert, then went on contribute music to over a dozen Broadway shows between 1921 and 1932, usually in collaboration with other songwriters. His biggest show was No, No, Nanette (1925), from which derive the indispensable staples “Tea for Two” and “I Want to Be Happy”.
And now in case you feel like dancing around your apartment this morning, here’s one of the hundreds of versions of “Tea for Two”, recorded by the Ipana Troubadors in 1929.
To find out more about show business 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