Gene Buck

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Gene Buck c.1938

Edward Eugene Buck (7 August 1885 – 25 February 1957) was an American illustrator of sheet music, musical theater lyricist, and president of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).[1]

Early career[edit]

Buck's 1911 sheet music cover for "Everybody's Doin' It Now" by Irving Berlin.

Buck was born in Detroit, growing up in Corktown.[2] He studied at Detroit Art Academy,[1][3] which had been founded by Joseph Gies and Francis P. Paulus.[4] He illustrated for music publishers Ted Snyder, Edward H. Pfeiffer, and Jerome H. Remick.[5] His cover illustrations had a personal touch and showed art deco and art nouveau elements.[1][3][5] Dean Cornwell called him "the first artist I ever copied".[6] By 1910 Buck was writing lyrics for composer Dave Stamper; his first hit was "Daddy has a Sweetheart, and Mother is her Name".[7] He wrote about 500 songs, including "In the Cool of the Evening", "No Foolin'", "Garden of My Dreams", "Someone, Someday, Somewhere", and "Hello, 'Frisco".[8] After 1914 he gave up illustration due to his failing eyesight.[1]


Buck collaborated with Florenz Ziegfeld, first on the Ziegfeld Follies (1912–26) and then originating the Midnight Frolics (1914–26),[7][9] writing skits and lyrics and acting as talent scout.[10] In the August 1915 Frolic he gave Will Rogers a break, permitting him to introduce topical humour into his act despite Ziegfeld's misgivings.[11] He also discovered Ed Wynn.[7] In 1919, he persuaded Joseph Urban to design the sets for the Follies.[12] In 1926, Rogers dubbed Buck "the Frank W. Stearns of the Ziegfeld Administration".[13]

Later career[edit]

Buck became wealthy and had a luxurious lifestyle. He was a neighbor of F. Scott Fitzgerald at Great Neck, and may have inspired elements of The Great Gatsby.[14] Ring Lardner, who collaborated with Buck on several plays, called Buck's living room "the Yale Bowl — with lamps".[15] Buck was also a friend of O. O. McIntyre.[16]

In 1927 Buck bought the Waldorf Theatre, renaming it the Gene Buck Waldorf, and producing and directing his own musical Take the Air there.[17] He collaborated with Mischa Elman and Augustus Thomas on an operetta.[16]


Buck was president of ASCAP from 1925 to 1942,[18] an era in which the growing popularity of radio was hitting songwriters' previously primary market for sheet music. His tenure also coincided with several anti-trust investigations by the US government,[19] and the 1941 ASCAP boycott when radio stations demanded reduced performance royalties.[20] The relative failure of the boycott precipitated his being voted out as president.[21] Before this, Buck appointed an ASCAP committee which in 1943 produced a revised schedule of songwriter payment levels; the schedule was dubbed the "Ahlert Plan" after Buck's successor as ASCAP president.[22] He became president of the Catholic Actors' Guild of America in 1944.[23][24]

Personal life[edit]

Buck married actress Helen Falconer (d.1968[25]) in a Catholic ceremony in New York City on 2 October 1919.[26] He died after an emergency operation.[8] His son Gene Buck, Jr was an assistant in 1947 on A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.[27]


  • Rogers, Will; Edited by James M. Smallwood and Steven K. Gragert (2010). "Volume 2 The Coolidge Years 1925-1927" (PDF). Will Rogers’ Weekly Articles. Will Rogers Memorial Museums. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 


  1. ^ a b c d Chadbourne, Eugene. Gene Buck at AllMusic. Retrieved 8 November 2011.
  2. ^ Driscoll, Charles (13 July 1943). "New York Day by Day". Reading Eagle. p. 4. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Klamkin, Marian (1975). Old sheet music: a pictorial history. Hawthorn Books. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-8015-5500-8. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  4. ^ Michigan, Writers' Program. (1973). Michigan, a guide to the Wolverine State. North American Book Dist LLC. p. 139. ISBN 978-0-403-02172-7. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Shepherd, John (2003). "Publishing". Continuum encyclopedia of popular music of the world. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 610. ISBN 978-0-8264-6321-0. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  6. ^ Cornwell, Dean (23 August 1942). "Things Walter never knew about artists--until now". St. Petersburg Times. p. 23. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  7. ^ a b c Associated Press (25 February 1957). "'Mr Broadway', Gene Buck, Dies". Palm Beach Post. p. 10. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  8. ^ a b "Gene Buck, author of 500 songs, dies". St. Joseph Gazette. 25 February 1957. p. 11. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  9. ^ Rogers 2010, p.301 (fn.6 to No.166)
  10. ^ Travis, Doris Eaton; Eaton, Joseph; Eaton, Charles; J. R. Morris (2003-10). The days we danced: the story of my theatrical family from Florenz Ziegfeld to Arthur Murray and beyond. University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 62–63. ISBN 978-0-8061-9950-4. Retrieved 8 November 2011.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  11. ^ Rogers, Will; Wertheim, Arthur Frank; Gragert, Steven K.; Barbara Bair, M. Jane Johansson (2005-12). The Papers of Will Rogers: From the Broadway stage to the national stage, September 1915-July 1928. University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 66–67. ISBN 978-0-8061-3704-9. Retrieved 8 November 2011.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  12. ^ Barnes, Cynthia (September–October 2004). "Urban Sensibilities; A New Approach to Stage Design". Humanities 25 (5). 
  13. ^ Rogers 2010, p.141
  14. ^ Bruccoli, Matthew Joseph; Baughman, Judith (2009-05). F. Scott Fitzgerald in the marketplace: the auction and dealer catalogues, 1935-2006. Univ of South Carolina Press. p. 46. ISBN 978-1-57003-799-3. Retrieved 8 November 2011.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  15. ^ Yardley, Jonathan (2001-04-01). Ring: A Biography of Ring Lardner. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 274. ISBN 978-0-7425-1160-6. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  16. ^ a b Driscoll, Charles (21 November 1947). "New York Day by Day". Reading Eagle. p. 4. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  17. ^ "Will Mahoney Shine in "Take the Air"; Gene Buck's Musical Comedy of Tried Ingredients Pleases at Waldorf Theatre.". New York Times. 23 November 1927. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  18. ^ "Music: Passing of Buck". Time. 4 May 1942. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  19. ^ White, Lee C. (1950–1951). "Musical Copyrights v. The Anti-Trust Laws". Nebraska Law Review 30: 50. 
  20. ^ Salter, Leonard M. (1941). "Battle of Music - ASCAP v. BMI". Commercial Law Journal 46: 112. 
  21. ^ Schultz, Lucia S. (March 1979). "Performing-Right Societies in the United States". Notes (Music Library Association). 35 Second Series (3): 511–536. JSTOR 939364. 
  22. ^ "ASCAP-ers may try BMI / He Really Sat In!". Billboard 54 (46): 20. 14 November 1942. 
  23. ^ "Buck Elected President of Catholic Actors' Guild". Motion picture herald: 78. 1944. 
  24. ^ "Buck Heads Catholic Actors". New York Times. 17 June 1944. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  25. ^ "Mrs. Gene Buck, Actress, Widow of ASCAP Leader". New York Times. 1 June 1968. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  26. ^ "Gene Buck Marries Helen Falconer.". New York Times. 3 October 1919. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  27. ^ Hopper, Hedda (15 December 1947). "Looking at Hollywood". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. 39. 

Further reading[edit]

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