Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby’s collaboration spanned from the 1920s to 1940s, and took them from Tin Pan Alley to Broadway and eventually to Hollywood. Born in New York in 1884, Kalmar performed as a magician in tent shows and in vaudeville before founding a music publishing company. Born in New York in 1895, Ruby made a living as a pianist on the vaudeville circuit until Kalmar hired him to plug songs. The two began a collaboration which would create some of the best-known tunes of their era, including “Who’s Sorry Now?,” “I Wanna Be Loved By You” and “A Kiss to Build a Dream On” (co-written with Oscar Hammerstein II). They wrote music and lyrics for Broadway shows including The Ziegfeld Follies, The Ramblers, The Five O’Clock Girl, Animal Crackers and High Kickers. The team moved to Hollywood in 1930 and contributed songs to films including Check and Double Check, The Cuckoos, The Kid from Spain and the Marx Brothers’ film Horsefeathers. In 1950, three years after Kalmar’s death, the duo’s success story was made into a film starring Fred Astaire as Kalmar and Red Skelton as Ruby. Although Ruby continued to write after Kalmar’s death, he did not produce another hit. He died in 1974.
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