Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ted Lewis

Is Everybody Happy? 

Ted Lewis, master showman, was sometimes referred to as the ‘King of Jazz,’, he was also billed as 'Mr Entertainment,' 'The High-Hat Tragedian of Song,' and 'The Medicine Man for Your Blues,' but he liked to refer to himself as the 'Dispenser of Happiness.' His trademarks were a battered top hat, languid but expressive hand motions, and the catch-phrase "Is Everybody Happy?". Lewis toured in vaudeville in act of Rose, Young and Friedman, later teamed with Eddie Lewis, billed as Lewis & Lewis. It was at that time that Theodore Leopold Friedman took the professional name Ted Lewis. Lewis left vaudeville and led a combo in New York cafes. His first recordings were with Earl Fuller's Famous Jazz Band. The Ted Lewis Band released it's first record in 1919 on Columbia no. A-2798 "Blues (My Naughty Sweetie Gave Me)" . In 1926 he recorded an electric version of the same song on Columbia 770-D.

His theme song was "When My Baby Smiles at Me", found on Columbia A-2908.  He was also famous for Good Night, I'm The Medicine Man For The Blues , Wear a Hat With a Silver Lining, and Me and My Shadow. Lewis was on Broadway starting in Greenwich Village Follies of 1919 (and 1921), Ziegfeld's Midnight Frolics 1919), Ted Lewis Frolic (1923), Artists and Models and Rufus Lemaire's Affairs (1927). In 1929 he stared in the Warner Brothers film "Is Everybody Happy?". One record I come across in stacks of 78s, is the Ted Lewis Popular Favorites a 1923 Columbia promotional record, no. 1S, I've found several of these records over the years so it's not rare.   

Record is a medley:
 Intro: (brief excerpt from Poet And Peasant Overture (von Suppe)
Sally Won't You Come Back (Dave Stamper)
When My Baby Smiles At Me (Bill Munro)
Georgette (Ray Henderson)
Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gave To Me (Chas. R. McCarron, Carey Morgan)
Tell Me (Max Kortlander)

Flip side of record is  Columbia Symphony Orchestra, with tenor solo by Charles Hackett and violin solo by Toscha Seidel.

Ted Lewis records in the early 1930s featured good jazz with outstanding personnel including Benny Goodman and Fats Waller. By 1933 he led a larger sweet-styled band.  Lewis recorded for Columbia from 1919–1933and was with Decca 1934 into the 1940s. Lewis was the composer or lyricist of several songs, When My Baby Smiles at Me, Bees Knees, Is vEverybody Happy Now?, While We Danced 'Til Dawn, and Sing a Little Song for Your Baby. He made his last major appearance in 1965 at New York's Latin Quarter. He died on August 25, 1971 in New York City, New York at 81. His career lasted 62 years, concluding at the lounge of the Desert Inn in Las Vegas. Circleville, Ohio has its Ted Lewis Park, and an interesting though small museum dedicated to its favorite son. The Ted Lewis Museum is located at 133 West Main Street, P.O. Box 492, Circleville, Ohio, 43113.   

 June 6, 1890 – August 25, 1971

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