Bert Kalmar had been a vaudeville performer whose career as a dancer was cut short by a knee injury, after which he turned to writing songs full-time. Harry Ruby, who had worked for Kalmar as a song plugger, got Kalmar a songwriting job at the Tin Pan Alley firm of Waterson, Berlin, and Snyder. After working with several partners, Ruby felt a compatibility with Kalmar, and by 1920 they were writing songs and comedy scripts for Broadway and Hollywood, a partnership that lasted until Kalmar’s death in 1947. The 1950 movie Three Little Words, starring Fred Astaire as Kalmar and Red Skelton as Ruby, is based on their lives and careers.
Our first song is “Three Little Words,” written for the 1930 movie Check and Double Check, starring Charles Correll and Freeman Gosden as Amos ‘n’ Andy. The script for the film was also written by Kalmar and Ruby, assisted by J. Walter Ruben. Lack of political correctness 85 years later notwithstanding, this film introduced Duke Ellington to the world beyond Harlem. Here’s Duke with his Cotton Club Band, with vocals by The Rhythm Boys (Bing Crosby, Harry Barris, and Al Rinker).
Our second song is “Just Wait ’til I Get Through With It,” from the 1933 movie Duck Soup, starring the Marx Brothers and Margaret Dumont. Kalmar and Ruby wrote the script as well as several musical numbers.
Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby, your Two for Tuesday, October 27, 2015.