The Very Thought of Ray Noble

There is much more to be said about British bandleader and songwriter Ray Noble (1903-74)  than I have time for, but he was very popular in the U.S. and his career intersected with some of our favorite performers, so we thought we’d give him at least a shout-out.

Born in Brighton, Noble attended the Royal Academy of Music and began leading big bands in the late ’20s. He is most identified with his biggest success, the New Mayfair Dance Orchestra. Singer Al Bowlly joined in 1930. In 1931, Noble co-wrote “Goodnight, Sweetheart” his most widely recorded and performed song. Another popular Noble tune was “Midnight, the Stars in You”, a 1934 recording of which was memorably used in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining in 1980. His theme song was “The Very Thought of You”.

Noble moved to the U.S. in 1934, where he and his band were popular on radio, record, and film. Glenn Miller helped him organize the American incarnation of his orchestra, which enjoyed a popular and long run at the Rainbow Room in New York. Nobble appeared regularly on radio with Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, and Burns and Allen, among others throughout the 1940s. His films included The Big Broadcast of 1936; Damsel in Distress (1937) with Fred Astaire, Joan Fontaine, and Burns and Allen; The Pride of the Yankees (1942); Here We Go Again (1942) with Bergen; Lake Placid Serenade (1944); and Out of This World (1945).

Bowlly had died during the Blitz in London in 1941. Noble’s singer in the late ’40s was Buddy Clark. In the ’50s, Noble appeared on television a few times, including a couple of stints on The Jack Benny Program. By the ’60s, Noble had retired to the Isle of Jersey. He died of cancer at age 70.

To learn more about show biz history, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous