Posts Tagged ‘George M. Cohan’

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Louise Dresser

June 13, 2013

Louise Dresser (1878-1965), American stage and screen actress and singer

A song sheet featuring a photograph of Louise Dresser for her rendition of Harry Von Tilzer’s ‘I Remember You,’ published in New York in 1908 by the Harry Von Tilzer Music Publishing Co, included in Charles Frohman’s production Broadway production of The Girls of Gottenberg, the successful musical comedy from the Gaiety Theatre, London.

The smaller photograph is of Harry Von Tilzer.

(photo: unknown, probably New York, circa 1908; artwork by Gene Buck)

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Louise Dresser at the Colonial Theatre, New York, June 1908
‘Favorite Comedienne Reappears.
‘Louise Dresser made her reappearance in vaudeville at the Colonial, after two seasons in musical comedy, and was warmly greeted by her large circle of friends and admirers. She made a charming picture in a simple dress of white that showed her blonde beauty to perfection. Her selections included “The Minstrel Man,” “My Gal Sal” (by the late Paul Dresser), “I’m Awfully Strong for You,” George M. Cohan’s song, and that lively lilt, “I Want to Be Loved Like a Leading Lady in a Regular Broadway Play.” All of the songs were given with infinite skill and charm, and Miss Dresser’s success was unequivocal.’
(The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, Saturday, 4 July 1908, p.14a)

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Louise Dresser

February 11, 2013

Louise Dresser (1878-1965),
American stage and screen actress and singer
(photo: White, New York, 1914/15)

George M. Cohan, Willie Collier, Louise Dresser, Rozsika Dolly, Tom Dingle, Lawrence Wheat, Belle Blanche and others in the revue Hello Broadway, Astor Theatre, New York, 25 December 1914 ‘New York, Jan. 9 [1915]. – Speed seems to be the newest ingredient in all musical comedy of today. There was a time when a show could make good with tuneful music or with clever lines. And many a hit managed to get across by having pretty and shapely girls in the chorus and even then some of them did not need to be pretty. But this season it is different. In addition to all the foregoing, mind you, there must be speed. The acts must move with celerity, the principals must grab their cues on the wing or from the wings, if you like, and the whole performance must end at eleven o’clock. A show that lasts longer than that each night will not last longer than a fortnight on Broadway.
‘The latest of the musical comedies is Hello Broadway, characterized as a ”musical crazy quilt, patched and threaded together with words and music by Mr. George [M.] Cohan.” Like Chin Chin, Dancing Around and Watch Your Step the action is never halted for an instant from beginning to end. Cohen, despite the predictions of the critics that he would never again appear on the stage in a musical comedy, is the same old George Yankee Doodle days. Playing opposite him is another old favorite, Willie Collier. The team is an excellent one. Collier summed it up pretty well when he said: ”With your nerve and my ability we out to get this thing over.”
‘for those who like to know about those things as a matter of historical record, Hello Broadway is a revue intended to burlesque the leading Broadway ”hits.” The piece gets its name from a duet sung by Cohan and Collier. Outside these two facts, not much more can be said. A thousand bright lights, a medley of syncopated music with such alluring titles as ”The Carriage Starters’ Glide,” ”Broadway Tipperary,” ”Hippodrome Folks” and ”Down On the Erie,” countless wonderfully handsome girls and the hundreds of quips and cranks from the clever C’s cannot be set down in mere black and white.
Louise Dresser, Rozsika Dolly, Tom Dingle, Lawrence Wheat and Belle Blanche helped out in the general effect but the two big starts, Cohan and Collier, make the show go – with speed.’
(The Kokomo Tribune, Kokomo, Indiana, Monday, 11 January 1915, p. 6b)

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January 23, 2013

Nora Bayes (1880-1928)
American vaudeville and musical comedy star,
who introduced George M. Cohan’s 1917 hit, ‘Over There
(photo: unknown, probably New York, 1917;
sheet music published by William Jerome Publishing, New York, 1917,
artwork by ‘Barbelle’)

Nora Bayes, whose real name was Leonora Goldberg, began her highly successful career in vaudeville and musical comedy in Chicago in 1899. Her second of five husbands, Jack Norworth (1879-1962), whom she married in 1908, became her stage partner for a while and together they wrote the lyrics for ‘Shine On, Harvest Moon,’ featured in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1908. It is one of the tragedies of light entertainment history that this recording of their most popular song was a technical failure, deemed unsuitable for issue, when they committed it to disc for the Victor Talking Machine Co in New York on 7 March 1910. Although the couple returned to the same studios several more times that year, they did not attempt ‘Shine On, Harvest Moon’ again.

‘Shine On, Harvest Moon’ has been recorded by many other artists since 1908, one of the earliest being by an unnamed male singer (who sounds very much like Bob Roberts) accompanied by female chorus, from Mark Best’s Old Time Victrola Music Page).

Miss Bayes, who made many records for both Victor and American Columbia, had a string of songs with which her name is connected. ‘How Ya Gonna Keep ’em Down on the Farm,’ George M. Cohan’s ‘Over There,’ and ‘The Japanese Sandman’ are among them.

‘Nora Bayes, with her inimitable foolery and clean fun, her admirable imitations and clever and witty songs, became in a very short time one of the greatest favorites on the American stage, and she continues to hold the attention as well as the admiration of her audiences – through sheer talent. Miss Bayes is the life of every production with which she is connected, and gives a zest to every moment she is on the stage. This talented artist has sung for the Victor [Talking Machine Co.] some of her greatest successes and the records are among the most entertaining in the catalogue.’
(1923 Catalogue of Victor Records, Victor Talking Machine Co., Camden, New Jersey, USA, December 1922)

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‘The town of Great Neck, Long Island, now regarded George M. Cohan, his wife and children, as permanent members of the colony – a colony that included Arthur Hopkins, Gene Buck, Charles King and Lila Rhodes and Sam Harris. Cohan liked Great Neck for his family but he never got used to working there.
‘It was there, however, and let it go into the record, that he got the inspiration for the song that will live as long as this republic [of the United States] stands.
‘America went to war. On April 6, 1917, after Congress had acted, Woodrow Wilson put his signature to the document that declared the United States at war with Germany.
‘In Great Neck that morning Cohan read his newspapers with puckered brow. He rose several times to go to is car for the drive into [Manhattan], but before getting into the car he sat down at his desk, took a pencil, and began scribbling. There was a new melody in his head and he was seeking the words to go with it. He wrote one word, “Chorus,” across the top of a sheet of paper and in less than half an hour he had written these words:

Over there, over there,
Send the word, send the word, over there,
That the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming,
The drums rum-tumming everywhere.
So prepare, say a prayer,
Send the word, send the word to beware.
We’ll be over, we’re coming over,
And we won’t come back till
It’s over over there!

‘Now, with that much done, he went quickly to his car and before he reached the Cohan & Harris offices he had written a verse that ran:

Johnnie, get your gun, get your gun, get your gun,
Take it on the run, on the run, on the run;
Hear them calling you and me,
Every son of Liberty.
Hurry right away, no delay, go today.
Make your daddy glad
To have had such a lad,
Tell your sweetheart not to pine,
To be proud her boy’s in line.

‘In later years, in telling me of the writing of that song, Cohan’s exact words were these: “Funny about them giving me a medal. All I wrote was a bugle call. I read those war headlines and I got to thinking and to humming to myself – and for a minute I thought I was going into my dance. I was all finished with both the chorus and the verse by the time I got to town and I also had a title. I tried the thing first on my friend Joe Humphreys (famous ring announcer of Madison Square Garden) and Joe liked it and he never was a fellow for lying. Joe really said he was crazy about it and he said, ‘George, you’ve got a song.’ And it seems I had.”
‘”Over There” swept America and the world. A month after publication it was being sung, hummed, whistled in every corner of the United States. It became the song of the war, and so it is held today. The average song hit of present times will achieve a sale of from one hundred thousand to three hundred thousand copies. “Over There,” first professionally sung by Nora Bayes, reached the million-and-a-half mark in total sales. This was a total considerably in excess of that of Irving Berlin’s “Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning” [of 1918]…’
(Ward Morehouse, George M. Cohan, Prince of the American Theater, J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia and New York, 1943, pp.125-127)

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The ‘million-and-a-half mark in total sales’ for ‘Over There’ mentioned above refers to the quantity of its sheet music. Besides the original featuring a tinted half-tone photograph of Nora Bayes in exotic military attire (see above), several other covers were published, including one by the artist Norman Rockwell (‘as sung by’ the celebrated Italian tenor, Enrico Caruso); and another featuring a futuristic design.

Like all popular songs of the period, ‘Over There’ was recorded a number of times. Nora Bayes herself committed the number to disc for the Victor Talking Machine Co (Victor 45130) in New York on 13 July 1917. Another version was made by Caruso on 11 July 1918, again for Victor; and a third, for Edison (50443) in 1917, by the popular recording artist Billy Murray and the American Quartet.

Nora Bayes
(photo: Sarony, New York, circa 1910)