Molly Picon
[née: Pyekoon]
b. New York, NY, USA.
d. April 6, 1992, Lancaster, PA, USA. 
All during the 1920s and '30s, she was a star in New York City's 'Yiddish Theater', and was widely known as "the Sweetheart of Second Avenue".
Molly Picon (Yiddish: מאָלי פּיקאָן; February 28, 1898 – April 6, 1992) was an American actress of stage, screen and television, as well as a lyricist. She was first and foremost a star in Yiddish theatre and film, but as Yiddish theatre faded she began to perform in English-language productions.
Picon was born as Małka Opiekun in New York City, the daughter of Clara (née Ostrow), a wardrobe mistress, and Louis Opiekun, a shirtmaker.
Opiekun is a Polish language name meaning, "guardian" or "caretaker". Her surname was later changed to Picon. Her career began at the age of six in the Yiddish Theatre. In 1912, she debuted at the Arch Street Theatre in New York and became a star of the Second Avenue Yiddish stage.
Picon was so popular in the 1920s that many shows had her adopted name, "Molly", in their title. In 1931 she opened the Molly Picon Theatre. She appeared in many films, starting with silent movies. Her earliest film still existing is “East and West” which deals with the clash of new and old Jewish cultures. She played an American-born daughter who travels with her father back to Galicia in East Central Europe. Her real-life husband Jacob Kalich played one of her relatives.

Picon's most famous film, Yidl Mit'n Fidl (1936), was made on location in Poland, and has her wearing male clothing through most of the film. In the film, a girl and her father are forced by poverty to set out on the road as traveling musicians. For her safety, she disguises herself as a boy, which becomes inconvenient when she falls in love with one of the other musicians in the troupe. Later Mamele was made in Poland.
Pion made her English language debut on stage in 1940. On Broadway, she starred in the Jerry Herman musical Milk and Honey in 1961. In 1966 she quit the disastrous Chu Chem during previews in Philadelphia; the show closed before reaching Broadway.

Her first major English speaking role in the movies was the film version of Come Blow Your Horn (1963), with Frank Sinatra. She portrayed Yente, the Matchmaker in the film adaptation of the Broadway hit Fiddler on the Roof in 1971. She was featured in a bit part in the 1948 film The Naked City as the woman running a newsstand and soda fountain towards the climax of the film. 
In the 1970s, she was featured as a madame named Mrs. Cherry in For Pete's Sake, starring Barbra Streisand. She later played a role on television on the soap opera Somerset and appeared on an episode of The Facts of Life. She also played the role of Molly Gordon in an episode of Gomer Pyle USMC.

~Personal life
Picon died on April 6, 1992, aged 94, from Alzheimer's disease in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Jacob Kalich, her husband from 1919 until his death in 1975, died from cancer. They had no children. She is buried in the Yiddish Theater section of the Mount Hebron Cemetery.


Sven Asmussen, Violin
b. Copenhagen, Denmark
Svend Asmussen (born 28 February 1916 in Copenhagen, Denmark) is a jazz violinist from Denmark, known as "The Fiddling Viking". Asmussen grew up in a musical family, starting violin lessons at age 7. At age 16 he first heard recordings by jazz violin great Joe Venuti and began to emulate his style. He started working professionally as a violinist, vibraphonist, and singer at age 17, leaving his formal training behind for good.
Early in his career he worked in Denmark and on cruise ships with artists such as Josephine Baker and Fats Waller. Asmussen later was greatly influenced by Stuff Smith, whom he met in Denmark. Asmussen played with Valdemar Eiberg and Kjeld Bonfils during World War II, during which time jazz had moved to the underground and served as a form of political protest. In the late 1950s, Asmussen formed the trio Swe-Danes with singer Alice Babs and guitarist Ulrik Neumann. The group became very popular in Scandinavia for their music hall style entertainment and also toured the United States.
Asmussen also worked with Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, and Duke Ellington. Asmussen was invited by Ellington to play on the Jazz Violin Session recording in 1963 with Stéphane Grappelli and Ray Nance.
In 1966, Asmussen appeared alongside Grappelli, Stuff Smith, and Jean-Luc Ponty in a jazz Violin Summit in Switzerland that was issued as a live recording. He made an appearance at the 1967 Monterey Jazz Festival, which included a celebrated violin summit with him, Ray Nance and Jean-Luc Ponty.
Asmussen's collection of jazz music, photographs, posters and other material is held in the jazz collections at the University Library of Southern Denmark. Asmussen's son, Claus Asmussen, is a well-known guitar player in Denmark, and a former member of the band Shu-Bi-Dua.

Lee Castle, Leader/Trumpet
b. New York, NY, USA.
d. Nov. 16, 1990, Hollywood, FL, USA.
né: Aniello Castaldo.
At the beginning of the Swing era, and while still a teenager, he was already working with such bands as Joe Haymes, Artie Shaw and Red Norvo. In 1937, he joined the Tommy Dorsey orchestra, and also studied music with Dorsey's father. Leaving Dorsey, and before the 1930s ended, he had worked with Glenn Miller and Jack Teagarden, led his own unsuccessful band, rejoined Artie Shaw after which he then played in Will Bradley's band. In 1942, now using the name Lee Castle, he once again tried his luck at bandleading, but still no luck. In the late 1940s and early '50s, he made periodic attempts to lead his own band, all to no avail, in between which he worked with Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw and the Dorsey Brothers. He was the first chair trumpet in Jimmy Dorsey's band when Jimmy died in 1957. Lee took over as leader, and finally found some measure of success. Castle continued to lead the Jimmy Dorsey band into the mid-80s.
Edmund Cohanier, Clarinet/Alto sax
b. Talloires, France, d.
Edmund Cohanier played clarinet and alto sax with Grégor and his Boys - a subset of Grégor et Ses Grégoriens. Pianist Lucien Moraweck was obviously under the spell of Frankie Trumbauer and Bix Beiderbecke when he wrote Gregorology. Frankie Trumbauer's Orchestra had released a very influential record in 1927 called Trumbology that featured Trumbauer on saxophone with Beiderbecke playing cornet. That same year Bix released a solo piano record called In A Mist which was released in France and England under the title "Bixology".

Jim Denny, (C&W)
A&R/music publisher
b. Silver Point, TN, USA
d. August 27 1963.
In 1953, famed C&W vocalist, Webb Pierce, and 'Grand Ole Opry' manager Jim Denny formed, Cedarwood Music, a Nashville, TN, music publishing company. They later invested in radio stations together (which activity was looked down on by the 'Grand Ole Opry').

Bill Douglass, Drums
b. Los Angeles, CA, USA.
d. Dec. 20, 1994, USA.
Max Jones, Writer
b. London, England
d. August 1,1993, age 86.
né: Ronald Maxwell Jones.
Obituary: Max Jones

Gustave Kerker, composer
b. Herford, Westphalia, Germany
d. June 29, 1923, New York, NY, USA.
Born in Germany, where he began studying cello at the age of seven, he continued his musical studies when his family moved to Louisville in 1867. Kerker started his professional career playing in pit orchestras at local theatres and soon rose to the post of conductor. His 1879 operetta, Cadets, toured the South, coming to the attention of E. E. Rice, who offered the composer‐conductor a chance to work with him.
Shortly after moving to New York, he became the principal conductor at the Casino Theatre. Although he interpolated his songs into other men's scores, notably in Lecocq's The Pearl of Pekin, his first complete score was not heard in New York until the production of Castles in the Air (1890). Over the next two decades he provided the music for more than twenty shows, most importantly the international hit The Belle of New York (1897), as well as An American Beauty (1896), The Girl from Up There (1901), Winsome Winnie (1903), The Tourists (1906), and Fascinating Flora (1907). His work was musicianly and highly popular in its day, but none of it has proved memorable.
Louis Metcalf, Trumpet
b. Webster Groves, MO
d. 1981
Louis Metcalf seemed to be everywhere in the 1920s, but was largely forgotten once the Depression hit, despite remaining active into the late '60s. He played with Charlie Creath in St. Louis in the early '20s, moved to New York, backed a variety of classic blues singers, and worked with Willie "the Lion" Smith, Sidney Bechet, Elmer Snowden, Charlie Johnson, and Sam Wooding. His most important association was with Duke Ellington, recording with him in 1926 and being a regular member of his orchestra during 1927-1928. Metcalf's solo style was a contrast to the wah-wah playing of Bubber Miley. He also played with Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, and Luis Russell, and recorded with Bessie Smith in 1931. But after that, he stopped recording, leading a band in Montreal and working in the Midwest. 

Metcalf was back in New York for a few years in the late '30s and spent 1946-1952 leading the International Band in Montreal. He recorded obscure sides as a leader for Franwill (1954-1955), Stereo-O-Craft (1958), and Pickwick (1963); an excellent album for Spivey (1966) finds the trumpeter to have been influenced by bop and playing in a surprisingly modern style. But Louis Metcalf will always be best-remembered for his short stint with Duke Ellington 40 years earlier.
~ Scott Yanow
Norman Moran, trumpet
b. New York (Brooklyn), NY, USA
d. April 6, 1979, Manhasset, LI, NY, USA.
(né: Norman Joseph Moran).
Played with Gray Gordon, Jimmy Durante, and others.
His brother, Leo Norman played lead trombone with
the Hal Kemp Orchestra.

Zero Mostel, actor/vocals
d. Sept. 8, 1977.
né: Samuel Joel Mostel.
Basically an actor, but included here for his wonderful vocal "If I Were A Rich Man" from the play/film "Fiddler on the Roof".
Josef Myrow, composer
d. Dec. 24, 1987
Composer Josef Myrow penned many memorable movie songs during the '40s and '50s including "Autumn Nocturne" and "You Make Me Feel So Young." He got his start as a radio conductor and concert pianist. As a songwriter, he often collaborated with lyricist Mark Gordon.
~ Sandra Brennan
Josef Myrow - Wikipedia

Bill Williams, guitar
b. Richmond, VA, USA.

Lyrics by Rida Johnson Young
Rida Johnson Young
b. Baltimore, MD, USA.
d. May 8, 1926, Stamford, CT, USA (breast cancer).
The Baltimore native pursued an acting career before working for the music publisher Isidore Witmark. Turning to playwriting, she saw her first work, Lord Byron, produced in 1900 by James Young, whom she later married. Her best‐known works were Brown of Harvard (1906), The Lottery Man (1909), Naughty Marietta (1910), Captain Kidd Jr. (1916), Maytime (1917), and Little Old New York (1920). All in all Young wrote nearly thirty plays and musicals and penned such famous songs as “Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life,” “I'm Falling in Love with Someone,” and “Will You Remember?”
Notable Events Occurring 
On This Date Include:

Juanita Hall, vocals/actress
died in Bay Shore, L.I., NY, USA.
Age: 65.
Fiddlin' Arthur Smith
'Grand Ole Opry star'
died Louisville, KY, USA.
Edith North Johnson, vocals/piano
died in St. Louis, MO, USA. 
Age: 85.
Billy Moore, piano/arranger
died in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Age: 71.
Member: 'Delta Rhythm Boys'

Russell Jacquet, trumpet
died in Los Angeles, CA, USA.
Age: 72.
Skippy Williams, tenor sax
died in New York, NY, USA.
Age: 77.

Songs Recorded/Released
On This Date Include:


Marion Harris & Billy Murray - I Wonder Why

The Happy Six
  • Why Don't You Smile?


Marion Harris - Runnin' Wild & "You've Got To See Mamma Every Night"

Original Memphis Five - A Blues Serenade
  • Off To Buffalo


Duke Ellington and his Kentucky Club Orchestra - Birmingham Breakdown

Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra - "Side By Side" & "Pretty Lips"


Original Indiana Five - Nobody's Sweetheart
  • Where Will I Be?

Paul Whiteman And His Orchestra

Art Gillham, (aka The Whispering Pianist)
  • Some Sweet Day
  • I Love You, I Love You, I Love You
  • Sweetheart Of All My Dreams


Ted Lewis and his Band - On The Sunny Side Of The Street


Isham Jones and his Orchestra - Keepin' Out Of Mischief Now - Vocal Chorus by Dusty Rhoades
  • If It Ain't Love
  • Strangers
  • What A Life! (Trying To Live Without You)


Joe Venuti's Blue Four/Five/Six - Hey, Young Fella


The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra


Runnin' Wild
~Gibbs, A. Harrington 
~Grey, Joe / Wood, Leo, lyricist(s)

Running wild, lost control.
Running wild, mighty bold.
Feeling gay, reckless too,
carefree mind all the time, never blue.
Always going, don't know where,
always showing..I don't care!
Don't love nobody, it's not worthwhile.
All alone, running wild!

On The Sunny Side Of The Street

Grab your coat and get your hat
Leave your worries on the doorstep
Just direct your feet
On the sunny side of the street
Don't you hear that pitter-pat
You know that happy tune is your step
Life could be so sweet
On the sunny side of the street
I used to walk in the shade with my blues on parade
Now you know I'm not afraid... I guess this rover done crossed over
If I never have a cent
I'd be rich as Rockefeller
Gold dust at my feet
On the sunny side of the street

brought to you by... 

Special Thanks To: 
The Red Hot Jazz Archives, 
The Big Band Database
Scott Yanow
and all those who have provided content, 
 images and sound files for this site.

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