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Ben Bernie & His Orchestra - Bigger & Better Than Ever

4 years ago163 views



Ben Bernie (1891-1943, né Bernard Anzelevitz), was an American jazz violinist and radio personality, often introduced as The Old Maestro. Bernie was born in Bayonne, New Jersey. By the age of 15 he was teaching violin, but this experience apparently diminished his interest in the violin for a time. He returned to music doing vaudeville, appearing with Phil Baker as Baker and Bernie, but he met with little success until 1922 when he joined his first orchestra. Later, he had his own band, "The Lads," seen in the early DeForest Phonofilm sound short, Ben Bernie and All the Lads (1924–1925), featuring pianist Oscar Levant. He toured with Maurice Chevalier and also toured in Europe. Bernie's orchestra recorded throughout the 1920s and 1930s. In 1925 Ben Bernie and his orchestra did the first recording of Sweet Georgia Brown. Bernie was the co-composer of this jazz standard, His musical variety radio shows through the 1930s, usually titled, Ben Bernie, The Old Maestro, were hugely successful, with ratings placing him among radio's top ten programs. He was heard on radio as early as 1923. His theme was "It's a Lonesome Old Town" and his signature trademark, "yowsah, yowsah, yowsah" (also spelled "yowsa" or "yowza"), became a national catchphrase. To boost ratings, Walter Winchell and Bernie, who were good friends, staged a fake rivalry similar to the comedic conflict between Jack Benny and Fred Allen. This mutually beneficial "feud" was a running gag on their radio appearances and continued in two films in which they portrayed themselves: Wake Up and Live (1937) and Love and Hisses (1937). They are also caricatured in the Warner Bros. cartoons The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos (1937) as "Ben Birdie" and "Walter Finchell" and The Coo-Coo Nut Grove (1936) as "Ben Birdie" and "Walter Windpipe". He died from a pulmonary embolism, brought on from his years of smoking his famed cigars, in October of 1943. As for this 1920s classic, it was waxed in 1928. Vocal by Billy Hillpot and Harold 'Scrappy' Lambert.