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Al Dubin today would probably be called “a problem child.” Born in Switzerland and brought to the United States by his parents at the age of two, he cut school to see Broadway shows, was kicked out of high school for unsuitable behavior, and was expelled from medical school. He worked as a staff writer for a publishing company and wrote a hit song, “T’Was Only an Irishman’s Dream,” in 1916 with Rennie Carmack. After service in WWI, he returned to songwriting and enjoyed several modest hits.
In 1926 he began to compose music to promote silent films and became influential as one of the first songwriters for talking pictures in the late 1920s. With Joseph Burke he wrote the popular “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” in 1929 and then began a collaboration with Harry Warren in 1932 which produced several hits, some of which made the number one slot on the charts: “You’re Getting to Be a Habit with Me” (1932) from 42nd Street, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “We’re in the Money” (1933), “I Only Have Eyes for You” and “I’ll String Along with You” (1934), “Lullaby of Broadway” (1935), “I’ll Sing You A Thousand Love Songs” (1936), and “September in the Rain” (1937).
He continued to write for films and collaborate with other composers into the 1940s. With Jimmy McHugh he wrote Carmen Miranda’s first American hit, “South American Way” which appeared in the 1939 Broadway show Streets of Paris. In 1940 he supplied lyrics to Duke Ellington’s “I Never Felt This Way Before” and collaborated with Edwina Coolidge on Will Grosz’s “Along the Santa Fe Trail.”
Dubin’s personal excesses led to an early death at age 54.
- Sandra Burlingame
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Pat Dubin McGuire
The Lullaby of Broadway
(Biography of Al Dubin)
Warner Baxter, Bebe Daniels, George Brent, Ruby Keeler, Guy Kibbee, Una Merkel, Ginger Rogers, Ned Sparks, Dick Powell
Warner Home Video
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