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Harry Ruby

Harry Rubinstein

Composer, Lyricist, Writer, Pianist

(1895 - 1974)

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Harry Ruby worked as a pianist around New York and in vaudeville. He was also a song plugger for music publishers and collaborated with several songwriters before he and Bert Kalmar formed their famous songwriting partnership in 1920. Their first success was a tune co-written with Irving Berlin that was sung by Fanny Brice in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1920. That same year the duo wrote “So Long Oolong (How Long You Gonna Be Gone)” for a pantomime called Bluebeard.

In 1923 they scored their first Broadway show, Helen of Troy, and enjoyed a hit with “Who’s Sorry Now?” written with Ted Snyder. “Thinking of You” was a standout in the 1927 show The 5 O’Clock Girl, and after Sarah Vaughan recorded it in 1950 it became one of her most requested songs. In 1928 Helen Kane, the “Boop-Boop-a-Doop” girl, popularized “I Wanna Be Loved by You” which was later sung by Marilyn Monroe in the 1959 film Some Like It Hot. In 1941 Kalmar and Ruby wrote the book, music and lyrics for High Kickers.

In the ‘30s the pair moved from Broadway to Hollywood where they scored five Marx Brothers films between 1930 and 1947. The song for Groucho’s character in 1930’s Animal Crackers, “Hooray for Captain Spaulding,” provided the theme for his later TV show “You Bet Your Life.” “Everyone Says I Love You” was introduced by Groucho in the 1932 movie Horse Feathers and in 1996 became the title of a Woody Allen film. The duo also contributed “Three Little Words,” performed by Bing Crosby with the Duke Ellington Orchestra, to the Amos and Andy film Check and Double Check (1930). The song became the title of the 1950 movie loosely based on the songwriting team in which Red Skelton played Ruby. In 1931 “Nevertheless” was popularized by both Bing Crosby and Rudy Vallee and enjoyed a revival with the release of the film Three Little Words.

Kalmar and Ruby also collaborated on several screen plays: The Kid from Spain (1932), starring Eddie Cantor; the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup (1933); Bright Lights (1935), starring Joe E. Brown; and Look for the Silver Lining (1949), a biopic of Marilyn Miller.

As testimony to the enduring nature of Kalmar and Ruby’s work, “A Kiss to Build a Dream On,” written in 1935 with lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, was featured in the 1951 movie The Strip where it was sung by Louis Armstrong. It was nominated for a Best Song Oscar, and Armstrong was forever after associated with the song.

After Kalmar’s death Ruby retired from songwriting and concentrated on his family and civic activities, occasionally taking small film roles.

- Sandra Burlingame

Boop-Boop-A-Doop: 27 Original Mono Recordings 1928-1951

Helen Kane

A Kiss to Build a Dream On

Jimmy Dorsey

A Kiss to Build a Dream On

Louis Armstrong
Reading and Viewing

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Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, George Raft, Pat O'Brien

Some Like It Hot

MGM (Video & DVD)


Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, Zeppo Marx, Thelma Todd

Horse Feathers

Universal Studios


Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, Zeppo Marx, Margaret Dumont

Duck Soup

Image Entertainment


The Marx Brothers

Animal Crackers


Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx

The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection (The Cocoanuts / Animal Crackers / Monkey Business / Horse Feathers / Duck Soup)

Universal Studios


Woody Allen, Goldie Hawn, Alan Alda

Everyone Says I Love You



Fred Astaire, Red Skelton

Three Little Words

MGM (Warner)


June Haver, Ray Bolger, Gordon MacRae, Charles Ruggles, Rosemary DeCamp

Look for the Silver Lining

MGM (Warner)


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