Today is the birthday of Melville Morris (1888-1987). Morris started out as a song demonstrator for tin pan alley publishing firms, and then broke into vaudeville, performing solo, and also accompanying popular singers. He played for Lillian Lorraine at Hammerstein’s in 1911 and 1912, for example. He wrote a number of popular tunes in teens and twenties, the most popular of which was “The Kangaroo Hop” with Gus Kahn (1915), which apparently is NOT the same novelty tune use by Gene Wilder in Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother. For many years he worked for the Paul Whiteman organization in various capacities through the 1920s. He performed with his own groups through the Depression and then retired. He also wrote songs for some old school burlesque revues, including The Big Fun Show for Sliding Billy Watson in 1922 and Bubble, Bubble for Billy K. Wells.
To learn more about 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.
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