Monday

DECEMBER 20TH



HAPPY BIRTHDAY TED FIO RITO

BIRTHDAYS


1898
Irene Dunne

actress/vocalist
b. Louisville, KY, USA.
d. Sept. 4, 1990, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
née: Irene Marie Dunne.
Daughter of Joseph Dunne, a steamships inspector, and Adelaide Henry, a musician who prompted Irene in the arts. She was just 12 when her father died the remaining family moved to Madison, Indiana to live with her maternal grandparents. While in Madison, Irene studied voice and took piano lessons and earned some extra money singing in the Christ Episcopal Church choir on Sundays.
In 1916, she graduated from Madison High School and continued studying until 1917 in an Indianapolis music conservatory. Irene then won a one year scholarship contest, enabling her to study at the Chicago Music College, after which she headed for New York City, then the entertainment capital of the world. Her first goal in New York was to add her name to the list of luminaries of the Metropolitan Opera Company. She auditioned for the Metropolitan Opera Comany, but was rejected for being too young and inexperienced. She did manage to join a road theater company. She had continued to study at the Chicago Music College and, in 1926, graduated with high honors.

In 1928, Irene met and married a young dentist from New York named Francis Dennis Griffin. She remained with Dr. Griffin until his death in 1965, almost unheard of with Hollywood's elite. In 1929, while appearing in the first national touring company of "Show Boat," where she played and sang the role of Magnolia, she was discovered by Hollywood. She repeated her performance in the 1936 film version. There followed a long string of film successes, with her last film appearance in 1952, after which she was only occasionally seen on TV. In many of her films, theater-goers were treated to her truly beautiful voice. Her public appeal was such that in 1959, President Eisenhower named her an alternate delegate to the 12th U.N. General Assembly. She died at the age of 91.



1900
Ted Fio Rito

Leader/piano
b. Newark, NJ, USA.
d. July 22, 1971, Scottsdale, AZ, USA.
Theodore Salvatore Fiorito (December 20, 1900, Newark, New Jersey - July 22, 1971, Scottsdale, Arizona) used Ted Fio Rito as his professional name. His name is sometimes given as Ted Fiorito or Ted FioRito. 
With a career spanning decades, he was a composer, orchestra leader and keyboardist (on both the piano and the Hammond organ). He had numerous hit recordings, notably his two number one hits, “My Little Grass Shack in Kealakekua, Hawaii” (1934) and “I’ll String Along with You” (1934).

He composed more than 100 songs, collaborating with such lyricists as Ernie Erdman, Gus Kahn, Sam Lewis, Cecil Mack, Albert Von Tilzer and Joe Young. The orchestra's vocalists included Jimmy Baxter, Candy Candido, the Debutantes, Betty Grable, June Haver, the Mahoney Sisters, Muzzy Marcellino, Joy Lane (1947-1951), Billy Murray (the Denver Nightingale), Maureen O’Connor, Patti Palmer, Kay and Ward Swingle.

His career began in the Columbia recording studios as a pianist with Harry Yerkes bands, recording for Yerkes' Novelty Five, Yerkes' Jazarimba Orchestra and the Happy Six in 1919-20. He moved to Chicago in 1921 to join Dan Russo's band and the following year was the co-leader of Russo and Fio Rito's Oriole Orchestra. When Russo and Fio Rito opened at Detroit's Oriole Terrace, their band was renamed the Oriole Terrace Orchestra. Their first recordings (May 1922) included Fio Rito's "Soothing."

The band returned to Chicago for a booking at the Edgewater Beach Hotel, where they did their first radio remote broadcast on March 29, 1924. In August 1925, the Russo-Fio Rito orchestra opened Chicago's new Uptown Theatre. They opened the famous Aragon Ballroom in July 1926, doing radio remotes nationally from both the Aragon and the Trianon ballrooms. Dan Russo left the band in 1928, and Fio Rito took over as leader, touring the midwest with engagements in St. Louis, Kansas City and Cincinnati.

In August 1929, the band's first recording without Russo featured Ted Lewis on clarinet and vocal. Billed as Ted Fio Rito and His Edgewater Beach Hotel Orchestra, they headed for San Francisco to fill in for the Anson Weeks orchestra at the Mark Hopkins Hotel.
*Radio
Fio Rito reached a national audience through syndicated and network radio programs. In Chicago, the band was heard on the Brunswick Brevities program, and they were the featured orchestra on NBC's Skelly Gasoline Show in New York. They broadcast on many 1930s radio programs, including The Old Gold Hour, Hollywood Hotel, The Al Jolson Show, Frigidaire Frolics and Clara, Lu and Em.

During the 1940s, the band’s popularity diminished, but Fio Rito continued to perform in Chicago and Arizona. He played in Las Vegas during the 1960s. Fio Rito is mentioned in The Honeymooners episode Young at Heart that first aired on February 11, 1956, written by Marvin Marx and Walter Stone, and directed by Frank Satenstein. Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason) and Ed Norton (Art Carney) are reminiscing about the bands from their youth, and also mention Isham Jones, Basil Fomeen, Little Jack Little and Johnny Messner and his toy piano.
1918
John Hardee

Tenor Sax
b. Corsicana, TX, USA.
d. May 18, 1984.
John Hardee's time in jazz's major leagues was brief but memorable. The thick-toned tenor (influenced by Coleman Hawkins and Chu Berry) toured with Don Albert (1937-1938), and graduated from college in 1941. After a period as a band director at a Texas school and a stint in the Army, Hardee played with Tiny Grimes in 1946 and recorded 18 titles as a leader (1946-1948), including eight for Blue Note that were reissued in a Mosaic set; other songs have been released by Savoy and Spotlite. Hardee also had recording dates with Russell Procope, Earl Bostic, Billy Kyle, Helen Humes, Billy Taylor, and Lucky Millinder. But in the early '50s, he returned to Dallas where he worked in the school system, just playing locally and rarely emerging during his last 30 years.
~ Scott Yanow


1907
Pleasant Joseph

singer-songwriter/piano
b. Wallace, LA, USA
d. Oct. 2, 1989, New Orleans, LA, USA.
Also known as 'Cousin Joe', 'Smiling Joe', etc.
New Orleans bluesman Pleasant Joseph made his biggest impact working under the name "Cousin Joe," but his discography also contains material cut under a variety of aliases, among them "Smilin' Joe," "Brother Joshua," "Joseph Pleasant" and even, on occasion, his birth name.

Born December 20, 1907 in Wallace, Louisiana, Joseph made a name for himself on the Crescent City nightclub circuit of the mid-1930s before relocating to New York City in 1942; there he recorded a series of 78s informed equally by blues and jazz traditions, complete with witty, bawdy lyrical touches. He returned to New Orleans in 1947, recording material for the Deluxe and Imperial labels before signing a five-year pact with Decca; however, he entered the studio only rarely in the years to follow, focusing instead on learning the piano and rebuilding his reputation as a French Quarter club performer.

After a long hiatus, Joseph recorded and released an impromptu 1971 session under the title Bad Luck Blues, followed in 1973 by Cousin Joe from New Orleans; his activities were again curtailed in the years to follow, although in 1987 he published an autobiography, Cousin Joe: Blues from New Orleans. He died October 2, 1989.
~ Jason Ankeny
WIKI BIO



1914
Evelyn Overstake

C&W/"hillbilly" vocals
b. Decatur, IL, USA.
Member: "The Three Little Maids".
Evelyn had a lovely voice and was variously known as the "Melody Maid", "The Little Maid", and "the singer of Dreamers Bay". In addition to appearing on Nashville's "Barn Dance", she also had her own solo programs, including a Saturday morning radio show, on which she often sang "Just a Little Street Where Old Friends Meet"

Hillbilly-Music.com - Evelyn Overstake



1912
Frank Reysen

piano, organ, bandleader
b. New York (Manhattan), NY, USA
d. June 14, 2006, Nyack, NY, USA.
One of the last of the Big Band leaders from the Swing Era, Reysen entertained hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers during a 60-year career as a professional musician.



1907
Paul Francis Webster, composer

b. New York, NY, USA
d. March 22, 1984, Los Angeles (Beverly Hills), CA, USA
The Oscar-winning lyricist behind such classic movie themes as "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing," "The Shadow of Your Smile," and "Somewhere My Love (Lara's Theme)," Paul Francis Webster was born December 20, 1907, in New York City. After dropping out of NYU, he set sail for Asia as a merchant seaman, and upon returning to the U.S. worked as an Arthur Murray dance instructor; in 1932, Webster teamed with composer John Jacob Loeb to score his first hit, "Masquerade," followed by successful collaborations with William Scotti ("My Moonlight Madonna") and Lew Pollack ("Two Cigarettes in the Dark").
In 1935, Webster was contracted for his first film, the Shirley Temple vehicle Our Little Girl; while in Hollywood, he also worked with Duke Ellington on Jump for Joy, an all-black musical which premiered at Los Angeles' Mayan Theater in 1941 with a cast including Ivie Anderson and Dorothy Dandridge. Webster also worked with Ted Fio Rito ("Lily of Laguna") before launching a successful partnership with Hoagy Carmichael which yielded songs like "Baltimore Oriole," "Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief," and "Memphis in June." He won his first Academy Award in 1953 for "Secret Love," written with Sammy Fain for the film Calamity Jane; Webster and Fain later reunited to collaborate on projects including Lucky Me ("I Speak to the Stars"), Marjorie Morningstar ("A Very Precious Love"), and April Love (the title tune).

Perhaps the most famous fruits of their partnership was the title theme to 1955's Love Is a Many Splendored Thing, which earned Webster a second Oscar. His other major collaborator of the period was Dimitri Tiomkin, with whom Webster worked on pictures including Rio Bravo, The Alamo, and The Guns of Navarone; he teamed with composer Johnny Mandel to author 1965's Oscar-winning "The Shadow of Your Smile," from The Sandpiper, and that same year also partnered with Maurice Jarre for Dr. Zhivago's "Somewhere My Love (Lara's Theme)." Elected into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972, Webster died in Beverly Hills on March 18, 1984.
~ Jason Ankeny



1917
Charles "Skeeter" Willis

C&W vocals/guitar
b. Colton, OK, USA.



1906
Benjamin "Benny" Winestone, reeds

b. Glasgow, Scotland,
Father was a Cantor, Pianist brother killed 1941 London air raid.

MORE



Notable Events Occurring
On This Date Include:


sheet music cover
1932.
Al Jolson recorded
"April Showers" for
Brunswick Records.


1945.
E. F. Stevens, Jr. died,
label Co-founder: (Decca)


1957.
Walter Page, bass
died in New York, NY, USA.
Age: 57


1965.
Charlie Burse, guitar
died in Memphis, TN, USA.
Age: 64.
Member: 'Memphis Jug Band'


1973.
Bobby Darin
(né Walden R. Cassoto)
singer-songwriter
died in Los Angeles, CA, USA.
Age: 37 (open-heart surgery)

1977.
"Big Chief" Ellis, piano

died in Birmingham, AL, USA.
Age: 63


Songs Recorded/Released
On This Date Include: 

1919

Paul Biese and his Novelty Orchestra
1921

All Star Trio and their Orchestra
The Happy Six
1922

The Virginians
Mamie Smith's Jazz Hounds
1923

Bailey's Lucky Seven
Ray Miller's Orchestra

1926

Red Nichols' Five Pennies
1927


Paul Ash and his Orchestra
1928

Warren Mills and his Blue Serenaders

Ted Lewis and his Band
1929

Alex Hill and his Orchestra
1931

Annette Hanshaw
LYRICS:


April Showers

~Al Jolson

Life is not a highway strewn with flowers,

Still it holds a goodly share of bliss,

When the sun gives way to April showers,

Here is the point you should never miss.


Though April showers may come your way,

They bring the flowers that bloom in May.

So if it's raining, have no regrets,

Because it isn't raining rain, you know, (It's raining violets,)

And where you see clouds upon the hills,

You soon will see crowds of daffodils,

So keep on looking for a blue bird, And list'ning for his song,

Whenever April showers come along.


And where you see clouds upon the hills,

You soon will see crowds of daffodils,

So keep on looking for a blue bird, And list'ning for his song,

Whenever April showers come along.


TubaGirlFin
brought to you by... 
~confetta

Scott Yanow,and all those who have 

provided content,

images and sound files for this site.