Marlene Dietrich
b. Schoneberg/Berlin, Germany.
d. May 6, 1992, Paris France (Natural Causes).
née: Maria Magdalene Dietrich.

Marlene Dietrich (27 December 1901 – 6 May 1992) was a German actress and singer.

Dietrich remained popular throughout her long career by continually re-inventing herself. In 1920s Berlin, she acted on the stage and in silent films. Her performance as Lola-Lola in The Blue Angel, directed by Josef von Sternberg, brought her international fame and a contract with Paramount Pictures in the US. 

Hollywood films such as Shanghai Express and Desire capitalised on her glamour and exotic looks, cementing her stardom and making her one of the highest paid actresses of the era. Dietrich became a US citizen in 1939; during World War II, she was a high-profile frontline entertainer. 

Although she still made occasional films in the post-war years, Dietrich spent most of the 1950s to the 1970s touring the world as a successful show performer.
In 1999 the American Film Institute named Dietrich the ninth greatest female star of all time.

George Berens
alto sax/clarinet/flute
b. Toronto, ON Canada
d. August 24, 1966, Hamilton, ON Canada.
Age: 56. (heart failure).

Sam Coslow, Composer
b. New York, NY, USA
d. April 2, 1982, New York, NY, USA.
American pop and show tunes composer/lyricist Sam Coslow was an important part of pop music during the '20s & '30s, writing such hits as "My Old Flame" and music for successful films of the time. Born in N.Y.C. in 1902, Coslow started writing songs shortly after graduating from high school. He had his first hit song in 1920, "It Might Have Been You," and worked as the lyricist on his only Broadway production Artists and Models of 1924, but very few hits followed until Coslow moved out to Hollywood in 1929. That same year, he worked on his first film, The Dance of Life, with many more to follow.

In 1933, Coslow teamed up with his chief collaborator, composer Arthur Johnston, and the duo successfully scored Bing Crosby's first leading roles in College Humor and Too Much Harmony. Other films containing hit songs by Coslow include Murder at the Vanities (1934), Turn Off the Moon (1937), Thrill of a Lifetime (1938), Dreaming Out Loud (1940), Copacabana (1947), and 1953's Affair With a Stranger, which was his final title song. Most of Coslow's best-known songs are from the early to mid-'30s, including "Sing You Sinners," "Just One More Chance," "Thanks," "Moon Song," "Learn to Croon," and "Cocktails for Two." Throughout his career, Coslow worked with various composers such as Harry Woods, Fred Hollander, and Abner Silver.
In addition to songwriting, Coslow recorded several songs as a vocalist for the Vocalion and Victor labels from the late '20s through the mid-'30s, including "Say It Isn't So," "I Wanna Be Loved by You," and his own "Learn to Croon." In 1940, Coslow co-founded a business, with Col. James Roosevelt, of coin-operated song/movie shorts called "soundies." Coslow also produced some movies during the 1940s. He eventually left the music business and became a successful publisher until he retired. Although Sam Coslow spent his retirement years in Florida, he was back in N.Y.C. by the time of his death at the age of 79.

"Dardanelle", Jazz Pianist/singer/leader
b. Avalon, MI, USA. d. August 8, 1997, USA.
Age: 69
An excellent pianist with a light touch, Dardanelle's credits dated back to the '40s. She could play hot, funky blues and surging originals, or do a menu of novelty tunes and old standards. Dardanelle's combo recordings range from intense trio sessions with Tal Farlow to relatively easy listening fare with Bucky Pizzarelli. 

She was an active performer for a half century, with her final performance in Greenwood, MS, during May 1997 occurring less than three months before her death at age 79 following valve replacement surgery. 

~ Ron Wynn

John Virgil Frigo
b. Chicago, IL, USA.

"Bunk" Johnson, Trumpet
b. New Orleans, LA, USA.
d. July 7, 1949.
né: William Geary Johnson
Bunk Johnson confused Jazz historians for years by lying about almost everything, but nevertheless he was an early Jazz pioneer who apparently played in bands led by Buddy Bolden. He definitely played in Frankie Dusen's Eagle Band, The Superior Orchestra and with Clarence Williams. He left New Orleans in 1915 and played in minstrel shows, theatre orchestras and circus bands, and with the Black Eagle Band. While playing with the Black Eagles in 1930 the band's other trumpet player Evan Thomas was stabbed to death on the bandstand. A fight broke out and Bunk's instrument was damaged. After this incident Bunk continued to play a from time to time, using a borrowed trumpet, but his heart was not in it any longer. His teeth were also starting to give him troubles and in 1931 he had pretty much retired from music. He worked as a truck driver, laborer, and as a WPA funded children's music teacher.
In 1938 Bill Russell and Fredric Ramsey started to write their book, "Jazzmen". After interviewing several Jazz musicians, including Louis Armstrong, Bunk's name kept coming up as one of the early influential jazz musicians in New Orleans. They managed to track Bunk down in New Iberia, Louisiana where he was living, and interviewed him for the book. Bunk lied about a great many things, including his birth date, so that it would look like he had been one of the first Jazz musicians. It took years until other historians figured out that Bunk was shall we say, "full of bunk". Despite all that, Bunk's colorful stories contributed to the success of the book, and the authors took up a collection among musicians and record collectors to fix Bunk's teeth and buy him a new horn. He made his first recordings in 1942, and became a popular fixture of the Dixieland revival of the 1940's.


Oscar Levant (December 27, 1906 - August 14, 1972) was an American pianist, composer, author, comedian, and actor. He was famous for his music and his mordant character and witticisms, on the radio and in movies and television.


Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, into a musical and Orthodox Jewish Russian family, Levant moved to New York with his mother, Annie, in 1922 after the death of his father, Max. He began studying under Zygmunt Stojowski, a well-established piano pedagogue. In 1923, Levant appeared with Ben Bernie in a short film Ben Bernie and All the Lads made in New York City in the DeForest Phonofilm sound-on-film system. 
In 1928 Levant traveled to Hollywood where his career took a turn for the better. During his stay, he met and befriended George Gershwin. In just twenty years, 1929-1948, he would go on to compose the music for more than twenty movies. During this period he also wrote or co-wrote numerous popular songs that made the hit parade, the most noteworthy being "Blame it on My Youth," now considered to be a popular music standard.

Around 1932 Levant began composing seriously. This led to a request by Aaron Copland to play at the Yaddo Festival of contemporary American music on April 30 of that year. Successful, Levant began on a new orchestral work, Sinfonietta. He was also married to and divorced from actress Barbara Woodell in 1932.
In 1939, Levant married for the second time, to singer and actress June Gale (Gilmartin), part of the singing foursome The Gale Sisters (besides June, there were Jane, Joan, and Jean). They were married for almost 33 years, until his death, and had three children, Marcia, Lorna, and Amanda.

During the years of 1958-1960, Levant hosted a television talk show on KCOP-TV in Los Angeles, The Oscar Levant Show, which later became syndicated. It featured his piano playing along with monologues and interviews with top-name guests such as Fred Astaire. The show was highly controversial, eventually being taken from the air after a comment about Marilyn Monroe's conversion to Judiasm: "Now that Marilyn Monroe is kosher, Arthur Miller can eat her." He later stated that he "hadn't meant it that way." Several months later, the show began to be broadcast in a slightly revised format; now it was taped in order to provide a buffer for Levant's antics. This, however, failed to prevent Levant from making comments about Mae West's sex life that caused the show to be canceled for good.

Oscar Levant as a guest on Jack Paar's talk show.
Levant was a member of the Algonquin Round Table, an informal conclave of New York wits and writers; other members were Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Harpo Marx, and Alexander Woollcott. Much later Levant was also a frequent guest on Jack Paar's talk show. The 1920s and 1930s wit Alexander Woollcott, also a member of the Algonquin Round Table, once said about Levant:
"There's absolutely nothing wrong with Oscar Levant that a miracle can't fix."
Open about his neuroses and a notorious hypochondriac, Levant was also in his later life addicted to prescription drugs and was frequently committed to mental hospitals by his wife, June Gale. Despite his afflictions, Levant was considered a genius by some, in many areas ("There's a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line."). His playing of the Tchaikovsky and Anton Rubinstein piano concerti, as well as Gershwin, is a testimony to his talents.
Levant drew increasingly away from the limelight in his later years. Upon his death in Beverly Hills, California of a heart attack at the age of 65, he was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. In their routines other comics have claimed, apocryphally, and citing an old joke, that hypochondriac Levant's epitaph was inscribed, "I told them I was ill."
Oscar Levant by Richard Avedon


  • Ben Bernie and All the Lads (1923)
  • The Dance of Life (1929)
  • Night Parade (1929) (uncredited)
  • In Person (1935) (uncredited) (scenes deleted)
  • Rhythm on the River (1940)
  • Kiss the Boys Goodbye (1941)
  • Humoresque (1946)
  • Rhapsody in Blue (1945)
  • Romance on the High Seas (1948)
  • You Were Meant for Me (1948)
  • The Barkleys of Broadway (1949)
  • Gene Kelly and Oscar Levant
    An American in Paris (1951) where he played a bohemian pianist.
  • O. Henry's Full House (1952)
  • The I Don't Care Girl (1953)
  • The Band Wagon (1953) where his songwriter character was based on the movie's own co-screenwriter — songwriter Adolph Green.
  • The Cobweb (1955)
  • The Oscar Levant Show (1958)
  • A Smattering of Ignorance, New York : Doubleday, 1940
  • Memoirs of an Amnesiac, New York : Putnam's, 1965
  • The Unimportance of Being Oscar, New York : Putnam's, 1968
Work on Broadway:
  • Burlesque (1927) - musical play - performer
  • Ripples (1930) - musical - co-composer
  • The Fabulous Invalid (1938) - musical play - conductor
  • The American Way (1939) - musical play - composer
External Links:
Blame It On My Youth 
~Music by: Oscar Levant
 ~Lyrics by: Edward Heyman

You were my adored one,
Then you became the bored one,
And I was like a toy that brought you joy one day,
A broken toy that you preferred to throw away.

If I expected love when first we kissed,
Blame it on my youth.
If only just for you I did exist,
Blame it on my youth.
I believed in everything,
Like a child of three.
You meant more than anything,
All the world to me.

If you were on my mind both night and day,
Blame it on my youth.
If I forgot to eat and sleep and pray,
Blame it on my youth.
And if I cried a little bit when first I learned the truth,
Don't blame it on my heart,
Blame it on my youth.

Eddie Wilcox
b. Method, SC, USA.
d.Sept. 29,1968.
né: Edwin Felix Wilcox
Contributed many arrangements for the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra, for whom he played piano.

Closely identified with bandleader Jimmie Lunceford, Wilcox arranged for the band at its ‘30s peak, and later led the group after Lunceford's death. Wilcox met Lunceford in the mid ‘20s while attending Fisk University. He played in Lunceford's campus band and worked with bands in New Jersey around 1927. Wilcox rejoined Lunceford in 1929 and stayed with him until the bandleader's death of a heart attack in 1947. Wilcox co-led the band for a time (with tenor saxophonist Joe Thomas), then assumed sole leadership from January 1949; he kept the band going into the early ‘50s. He then worked as a soloist round New York, including a stint of nearly ten years at Café Riviera in New York. With Teddy McRae, Wilcox founded an R&B label, Raecox, in the ‘50s. He also worked as a record company executive with the Riviera and Derby labels. Just prior to his death in 1968, Wilcox worked in Canada with “Big Chief" Russell Moore.~ Chris Kelsey
Notable Events Occurring
On This Date Include:

The musical "Show Boat" premiered in New York, - perhaps the most influential work in American musical theatre history. Among the hit songs heard that evening were "Ol' Man River," "Can't Help Lovin' That Man" and "Why Do I Love You?" Previously, most shows were little more than Revues, but 'Show Boat' was a new kind of musical -- one where the music and lyrics sprang naturally from the storyline and enhanced the plot.
The significance of Show Boat in the history of musical theater

Chris Gage, a Canadian Jazz pianist whose technique was considered second only to Oscar Peterson, committed suicide in North Vancouver. In 1949, He moved to Vancouver becoming the city's leading jazz pianist. By age 17 (b. Regina in 1927), Gage was already leading his own group playing venues throughout western Canada. He declined many offers to tour with such stars as Louis Armstrong, Peggy Lee and Gerry Mulligan, and remained in the Vancouver area until his death.

Hoagy Carmichael died.

Songs Recorded/Released
On This Date Include:


The Virginians

The Virginians - Runnin' Wild (An Ebony Jazz Tune) 


Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra
Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra - Shanghai Lullaby


Isham Jones and his Orchestra
Isham Jones and his Orchestra - Paddlin' Madelin' Home


University Six - Beale Street Blues


Jimmie Noone's Apex Club Orchestra - It's Tight Like That


Carolina Club Orchestra - I'd Like To Be A Gypsy


Tommy Dorsey Orch. - 

Ella Fitzgerald - Five O'Clock Whistle


~Lyrics by Hoagy Carmichael

And now the purple dusk of twilight time
Steals across the meadow of my heart
High up in the sky the little stars climb
Always reminding me that we're apart

You wandered down the lane and far away
Leaving me a song that will not die
Love is now a stardust of yesterday
The music of the years gone by

Sometimes I wonder why I spend
The lonely nights dreaming of a song
The melody haunts my reverie
And I am once again with you

When our love was new
And each kiss an inspiration
But that was long ago
And now my consolation
Is in the stardust of a song

Beside the garden wall
When stars are bright
You are in my arms
The nightingale tells his fairy tale
Of paradise where roses grew

Though I dream in vain
In my heart it will remain
My stardust melody
The memory of love's refrain

She's Funny That Way 
~Lyrics Richard Whiting

I'm not much to look at, nothin' to see
Just glad I'm livin' and happy to be
I got a woman, crazy for me
She's funny that way

I can't save a dollar, ain't worth a cent
She'd never holler, she'd live in a tent
I got a woman, crazy for me
She's funny that way

Though she'd love to work and slave for me every day
She'd be so much better off if I went away

But why should I leave her, why should I go?
She'd be unhappy without me, I know
I got a woman, crazy for me
She's funny that way

When I hurt her feelin's once in a while
Her only answer is one little smile
I got a woman, crazy for me
She's funny that way


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Special Thanks To:
Scott Yanow, 
And all who have provided content for this site.