Archive for the Tin Pan Alley Category

Stars of Vaudeville #1020: Uke Henshaw

Posted in Music, Tin Pan Alley, Vaudeville etc. with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2017 by travsd

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UKE HENSHAW

Today is the birthday of Charles Robert “Uke” Henshaw (1896-1969).

Originally from Wheeling, West Virginia, where his family had lived for many generations, Henshaw also spent some of his childhood in Columbus and St. Louis. By his early twenties he had already established himself on the vaudeville circuits as one of the top ukulele performers and his likeness was already being printed on sheet music. By 1920 he was already playing Paris — international stardom was to follow. For a time, his first wife Vera Van Atta was partner in his act. Most descriptions of his playing mention his uncanny ability to make his uke mimic other musical instruments. When vaudeville passed from the scene, he continued to play on radio, toured with the USO, and appeared in films and on television. His name was also used to market a brand of ukuleles. Much more detail about the performer can be found here, including appearances he made in films as an extra which aren’t mentioned on IMDB.

Henshaw was the second cousin of the famous singer Annette Hanshaw and Frank Hanshaw, a successful show biz agent. Uke’s third wife was the popular singer and actress Deane Janis.

For more on vaudeville historyconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold

Stars of Vaudeville #1009: Lewis and Dody

Posted in Comedy, Comedy Teams, Music, Singers, Tin Pan Alley, Vaudeville etc. with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2016 by travsd

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LEWIS AND DODY

Today is the birthday of Sam Lewis (1885-1959), today best remembered as a tin pan alley songwriter, who co-wrote such classics as “How You Gonna Keep ’em Down on the Farm (After They’ve Seen Paree)?”, “My Mammy”, and “Sitting on Top of the World”. At a certain point he was partnered with a guy named Jack Altman, but for most of his career he was teamed with dialect comedian Sam Dody. Lewis and Dody were also billed as The Harmony Boys and The Two Sams.  They starred in a show called Hello, America on the Columbia Burlesque wheel in 1918. In vaudeville they introduced the Bert Kalmar and Harry Puck songs “Kiss Me (I’ve Never Been Kissed Before)” and “Where Did You Get That Girl?”(both 1913)  and the 1917 patriotic number “Homeward Bound” by Johnson and Goetz.  They are best known for a single novelty song “Hello Hello Hello”, which became their signature. They played the Palace with their act in the mid 1920s.

For more on vaudeville historyconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

Stars of Vaudeville #962: Anatole Friedland

Posted in Broadway, Music, Tin Pan Alley, Vaudeville etc. with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2016 by travsd

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Today is the birthday of Anatole (sometimes spelled Anatol) Friedland, although there is some disagreement about the year, claims ranging from 1881 to 1888. He died in 1938. Born in St. Petersburg (Russia, not Florida) he was educated at private schools in his native contrary, then emigrated to the U.S. with his family sometime around the turn of the century. He studied architecture at Columbia University, while composing music for amateur shows at night.

He enjoyed performing his own songs, and often performing them in vaudeville. In 1911, he got his first Broadway show, writing the tunes for The Wife Hunters starring Lew Fields and Emma Carus. Then he wrote songs for the Shuberts The Passing Show and Broadway to Paris (1912), with Gertrude Hoffman, Louise Dresser and Irene Bordoni. Starting in 1913, his frequent songwriting partner became L. Wolfe Gilbert, with whom he wrote many hits. He continued to perform in vaudeville as a solo, as a duo with Gilbert, or as the producer of tab musicals with full choruses with names like Anatol’s Affairs of 1924, earning him the nickname “the Ziegfeld of Vaudeville”. Barbara Stanwyck and Mae Clarke were among those who performed in these choruses. As vaudeville began to fade, he continued to mount these revues in the big presentation houses that gradually replaced big time vaudeville house, presenting his shows as the opening acts for movies. During prohibition he also ran a speakeasy named Club Anatol, which also featured his floor shows.

To learn more about vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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Stars of Vaudeville #898: L. Wolfe Gilbert

Posted in Music, Tin Pan Alley, Vaudeville etc. with tags , , , , on August 31, 2015 by travsd

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Today is the birthday of Tin Pan Alley songwriter L. Wolfe Gilbert (1886-1970). Born in Odessa, he moved to the U.S. in his youth and broke into vaudeville in the first decade of the twentieth century as part of a singing quartet. While performing in Coney Island he was spotted by English producer Albert Decourville and brought over to Britain to tour music halls as part of the Ragtime Octet. In 1912, he co-authored (with Lewis Muir) one of my favorite vaudeville era songs “Waiting for the Robert E. Lee”. This song was recorded and performed by nearly every singer of the era, and but Gilbert on top. In 1917 he played a week at the Palace with his then-partner Anatole Friedland. Other songs from Gilbert’s catalog include “Down Yonder”, “Ramona”, and “Jeannine, I Dream of Lillac Time”. His later decades were spent working in film, radio and television and he was a director of ASCAP from 1941 through 1944.

For more on vaudeville historyconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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Al Jolson: April Showers

Posted in Music, Tin Pan Alley with tags , , , , , , on April 1, 2015 by travsd

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God forbid we should have any (showers, that is) but it is officially April now, and, well, they have a Tin Pan Alley Song for EVERYTHING. Buddy DeSylva and Louis Silvers wrote this song for the 1921 Broadway show Bombo, starring Mr. Al Jolson. It was to be a staple of Jolie’s act for the rest of his days.

For more on show biz historyconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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Stars of Vaudeville #839: Nat Vincent

Posted in Music, Tin Pan Alley, Vaudeville etc. with tags , , , , , , , on November 6, 2013 by travsd

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Today is the birthday of songwriter Nathaniel Hawthorne “Nat” Vincent (1889-1979). In the early days, Vincent was a song plugger and department store music demonstrator. In vaudeville he worked in the teams Franklyn and Vincent, and Tracey and Vincent (which titled its act “A Trip to Hitland”.) Then he performed on radio and on records with Fred Howard and His Happy Chappies. Songs that Vincent wrote or co-wrote include “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”, “When the Bloom is on the Sage”, “Pucker Up and Whistle” and dozens of others.

Here’s Burr and Campbell’s 1919 version of “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”.

To learn more about vaudeville consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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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

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Stars of Vaudeville #493: Milton Ager

Posted in Hollywood (History), Music, Television, Tin Pan Alley, Vaudeville etc. with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2013 by travsd

Originally published in 2012

Today is the birthday of Milton Ager (1883-1979).

Chicago native Ager began his career as an accompanist in nickelodeons and then vaudeville. His songs began to get performed and published around the time of the First World War, although his first big hit was “I’m Nobody’s Baby” in 1920.

His many hit songs (with various lyricists) included: “Hard Hearted Hannah” (1924), “Ain’t She Sweet?” (1927), “Vo-Do-De-Oh” (1927) and “Happy Days Are Here Again” (1929), which become the theme song for President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1932 inauguration, and Sophie Tucker’s theme song “Last of the Red Hot Mamas”.

His Broadway shows included the Joe Cook vehicle Rain or Shine (1928, later a Hollywood movie) and the revues Padlocks of 1927 and Murray Anderson’s Almanac. In 1930 he moved to Hollywood, where he wrote scores for Sophie Tucker’s one and only film Honky Tonk, and several other pictures. Ager’s wife was columnist Cecelia Ager, the first female reporter for Variety. Their daughter was journalist Shana Alexander, a former regular on 60 Minutes.

To find out more about vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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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

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