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Welcome to Blast2thePast.com

Harry Richman Biography

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Harry Richman (10 August 1895–3 November 1972) was an American entertainer. He was a singer, actor, dancer, comedian, pianist, songwriter, bandleader, and night club performer, at his most popular in the 1920s and 1930s.
Richman was born as Harold Reichman in Cincinnati, Ohio. He changed his name to "Harry Richman" at age 18, by which time he was already a professional entertainer in vaudeville. He worked as a piano accompanist to such stars as Mae West and Nora Bayes. With Bayes' act he made his Broadway debut in 1922. He appeared in several editions of the George White's Scandals in the 1920s to acclaim. He appeared in the 1931 Ziegfeld Follies.
He made his feature movie debut in Hollywood in 1930 with the film Puttin' on the Ritz, featuring the Irving Berlin song of the same title, which gave Richman a phonograph record hit that year. His film career was short lived due to his somewhat overpowering personality, and his limited acting skills. (Leonard Maltin wrote of Puttin' on the Ritz: "A songwriter drinks and goes blind - after seeing this you'll want to do the same".) This made little difference to his career as he remained a popular nightclub host and stage performer.
Richman was also an amateur aviator of some accomplishment, being the co-pilot in 1936, with famed flyer Henry Tindall "Dick" Merrill, of the first round-trip transatlantic flight in his own single-engine Vultee transport. Richman had filled much of the empty space of the aircraft with ping pong balls as a flotation aid in case they were forced down in the Atlantic, and after the successful flight he sold autographed ones until his death. They continue to turn up on eBay to this day.
He also made regular radio broadcasts in the 1930s. He married Hazel Forbes, show girl and Ziegfeld Girl, in March 1938, in Palm Springs, California. He and Forbes shared a sumptuous home in Beechurst, Long Island. Shortly after their wedding Forbes contracted pneumonia and was saved, in part, through the use of the drug sulfanilimide. The couple considered adopting a baby. By 1942 Forbes was divorced from Richman.
Richman largely retired in the 1940s, although he made irregular appearances, including on television, into the 1950s.
His autobiography A Hell of a Life was published in 1966.
Harry Richman died in Hollywood, California.

Wikipedia Source

"With you" , Harry Richman 1930

Harry Richman - Exactly Like You (1930)

Charted at #12 in 1930. Harry is pictured with Hazel Forbes on their wedding day. They were married from 1938 to 1942. This song was introduced by Richman and Gertrude Lawrence in "Lew Leslie's International Revue". Also #11 for Ruth Etting in 1930, #19 for Sam Lanin and His Orchestra in 1930, #14 for Don Redman and His Orchestra in 1937 and #9 R&B for Nat King Cole in 1949.

Recorded April 30, 1930. Written by Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh.

The other side of this record is "On the Sunny Side of the Street".

Till The Clouds Roll By (1946)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Till The Clouds Roll By (1946)


Starring: June Allyson, Robert Walker, Lucille Bremer,
Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Frank Sinatra
Director: Richard Whorf
Producer: Arthur Freed
Sponsor: MGM
Film Length: 132 minutes
Audio/Visual: sound, color


Light bio-pic of American Broadway pioneer Jerome Kern, featuring renditions of the famous songs from his musical plays by contemporary stage artists, including a condensed production of his most famous: 'Showboat' . Written by Stewart M. Clamen

Harry Richman - Puttin on the Ritz

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Harry Richman - Puttin on the Ritz 

Harry Richman Puttin on the Ritz
Number 1 in 1930
(Before Fred Astaire)

Al Jolson - Swanee (1920)

Al Jolson (May 26,1886 Oct.23,1950), born in Lithuania, Russian Empire, was a highly acclaimed American singer, comedian, and actor, and the first openly Jewish man to become an entertainment star in America.

His career lasted from 1911 until his death in 1950, during which time he was commonly dubbed "the world's greatest entertainer. Numerous well-known singers were influenced by his music, including Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Judy Garland.

By 1920, he was Americas most famous and highest paid entertainer. Between 1911 and 1928, Jolson had nine sell-out Winter Garden shows in a row, more than 80 hit records, and 16 national and international tours.


"Swanee" is an American popular song written in 1919 by George Gershwin, with lyrics by Irving Caesar. It is most often associated with singer Al Jolson.

The song was written for a New York City revue called Demi-Tasse, which opened in October 1919 in the Capitol Theater. Caesar and Gershwin, who was then aged 20, claimed to have written the song in about ten minutes riding on a bus in Manhattan, and then at Gershwin's apartment. It was written partly as a parody of Stephen Foster's "Old Folks at Home". It was originally used as a big production number, with 60 chorus girls dancing with electric lights in their slippers on an otherwise darkened stage.

The song had little impact in its first show, but not long afterwards Gershwin played it at a party where Al Jolson heard it. Jolson then put it into his show Sinbad, already a success at the Winter Garden Theatre, and recorded it for Columbia Records in January 1920. "After that," said Gershwin, "Swanee penetrated the four corners of the earth.". The song was charted in 1920 for 18 weeks holding No. 1 position for nine. It sold a million sheet music copies, and an estimated two million records. It became Gershwin's first hit and the biggest-selling song of his career; the money he earned from it allowed him to concentrate on theatre work and films rather than writing further single pop hits. Arthur Schwartz said: "It's ironic that he never again wrote a number equaling the sales of Swanee, which for all its infectiousness, doesn't match the individuality and subtlety of his later works.

Youtube Source

Al Jolson - About a Quarter to Nine

From The 1935 Movie "Go Into Your Dance"
featuring the song "About a Quarter to Nine"

Toot Toot Tootsie - Al Jolson

Toot Toot Tootsie - Al Jolson

Tootsie Goodbye

This is a fantastic song that has been covered by lots of great artists over the years. A few of them besides Billy Murray are Al Jolson, Brenda Lee, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Tony Bennett. The song was written by Gus Kahn, Ernie Erdman,Ted FioRito, and Dan Russo. Here's the lyrics for you to sing along with:

Well toot, toot, Tootsie, goodbye
Toot, toot, Tootsie, don't cry
That choo, choo, train that takes me
Away from you no one
Can tell how sad it makes me

Kiss me Tootsie
And then do it over again
Watch for the mail I never fail
If you don't get a letter
Then you'll know I'm in jail

Toot, toot, tootsie, don't cry
Toot toot Tootsie goodbye
Yeah, well now
Toot, toot, Tootsie, goodbye

Youtube Source

"Everybody Loves My Baby" (Boswell Sisters, 1932)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

"Everybody Loves My Baby" (Boswell Sisters, 1932) 


The Boswell Sisters's take on Jack Palmer & Spencer Williams's best know collaboration...


I'm as happy as a King,
Feelin' good n' everything
I'm just like a bird in Spring,
Got to let it out.
It's my sweetie, can't you guess?
Wild about her, I'll confess!
Does she love me?
Oh my, yes!

That's just why I shout:

Everybody loves my baby,
But my baby don't love nobody but me.
Nobody but me.
Everybody wants my baby,
But my baby don't want nobody but me
That's plain to see.

I am his sweet patootie and he is my lovin' man,
Knows how to do his duty,
Loves me like no other can.

That's why:
Everybody loves my baby,
But my baby don't love nobody but me.
Nobody but me!

Everybody loves my baby,
But my baby don't love nobody but me,
Nobody but me!
Everybody wants my baby,
But my baby don't want nobody but me
That's plain to see.

She's got a form like Venus, honest, I ain't talkin' Greek!
No one can come between us,
She's my Sheba, I'm her Sheik.

That's why:
Everybody loves my baby,
But my baby don't love nobody but me,
Nobody but me!
More on the Boswell Sisters from Wiki:

The Boswell Sisters were a close harmony singing group that attained national prominence in the USA in the 1930s.

Sisters Martha Boswell (June 9, 1905 - July 2, 1958), Connee Boswell (December 3, 1907 - October 11, 1976), and Helvetia "Vet" Boswell (May 20, 1911 - November 12, 1988) were raised by a middle-class family on Camp Street in uptown New Orleans, Louisiana. Martha and Connee were born in Kansas City, Missouri. Helvetia was born in Birmingham, Alabama. (Connee's name was originally spelt Connie until she changed it in the 1940s.)

They came to be well known in New Orleans while still in their early teens, making appearances in local theaters and radio. They made their first recordings for Victor Records in 1925. However, the Boswell Sisters did not attain national attention until they moved to New York City in 1930 and started making national radio broadcasts. After a few recordings with Okeh Records in 1930, they made numerous recordings for Brunswick Records from 1931-1935. These Brunswick records are widely regarded as milestone recordings of vocal jazz. Connie's ingenious reworkings of the melodies and rhythms of popular songs, together with Glenn Miller's hot arrangements, and first rate New York jazz musicians (including The Dorsey Brothers, Benny Goodman, Bunny Berigan, Fulton McGrath, Joe Venuti, Arthur Schutt, Eddie Lang, Joe Tarto, Manny Klein, Dick McDonough, and Carl Kress), made these recordings unlike any others. Melodies were rearranged and slowed down, major keys were changed to minor keys (sometimes in mid-song) and rhythmic changes were par for the course. (Interestingly, the Boswell Sisters were among the very few performers allowed to make these changes to current popular tunes as during this era, music publishers and record companies pressured performers not to alter current popular song arrangements). Connee also recorded a series of more conventional solo records for Brunswick during the same period.

The name of their 1934 song "Rock and Roll" is an early use of the term. It is not one of their hotter numbers; it refers to "the rolling rocking rhythm of the sea".

In 1936, the group signed to Decca and after just 3 records, broke up (the last recording was February 12, 1936). Connee Boswell continued to have a successful solo career as a singer for Decca. She had changed the spelling of her name from Connie to Connee, reputedly because it made it easier to sign autographs. (It's interesting to note that Connee sang from a wheelchair - or seated position - during her entire career, due to an accident she suffered as a young child. Amazingly, when she tried to get involved with the U.S.O. during World War II, she was not given permission to travel overseas due to her disability.)

The Boswell Sisters chalked up 20 hits during the 1930s including the number one record "The Object of My Affection" in 1935.

Youtube Source