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John Wallowitch (February 11, 1926 – August 15, 2007) was an American songwriter and cabaret performer. He wrote over 2,000 songs; his works include "Bruce", "I See the World Through Your Eyes", "Back on the Town" and "Mary's Bar". For over 50 years he played and sang a catalogue of original songs at nightspots around New York City. He is also known for his sophisticated takes on the songs of Irving Berlin.
Wallowitch was born in the Methodist Hospital in South Philadelphia. He attended Edgar Allan Poe Elementary School, Vare Junior High School, Central High School and Temple University in Philadelphia. Wallowitch spent his youth in a desolate neighborhood in South Philadelphia, dreaming about moving to New York. He finally arrived there in his late teens to study classical piano at Juilliard. In order to survive, he played rehearsal piano for shows, among them Leonard Sillman's New Faces of '52, and began to play at the Duplex, a Greenwich Village saloon.
Wrote Stephen Holden in The New York Times: "While Noël Coward is no longer around to set the standards for a certain kind of sophisticated songwriting sensibility, Mr. Wallowitch nimbly carries the torch." He displays his predilection for Coward-like wit and satire on such songs as "Cosmetic Surgery", in which he sums up the surgical predilections of friends who are "getting younger than ever" with such dexterity.
- "In a matter of weeks
- With the modern techniques
- For improving physiques
- They have altered their beaks
- And they've lifted their cheeks
- And now everyone speaks
- In society's cliques
- Of the changes that science has wrought
- Of the changes that money has bought!"
He often wrote about growing up in Philadelphia, and of life with his family. "I See the World Through Your Eyes" is a remembrance of Wallowitch's late brother, photographer Edward Wallowitch (associated with Andy Warhol). "Manhattan, You're A Dream" pays tribute to Wallowitch's mother.
During the 1960s he met three women who would become his greatest champions: singer-pianist Blossom Dearie for whom Wallowitch's song "Bruce" is a favorite standard; Dixie Carter of Designing Women who recorded a collection of Wallowitch songs in 1984; and Joanne Beretta. Wallowitch's compositions have also been recorded by Shirley Horn, Tony Bennett, Berri Blair, John Dubois, Marlene VerPlanck, Lynn Lobban, and many others. Among the many fine performers who sing his songs are Lynn Lobban, Alice Levine, Eric Comstock, Yvonne Sherwell, Sue Gandy, Joanne Beretta and Michael Belliveau.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Wallowitch was part of a popular cabaret act with his longtime partner, Bertram Ross. The pair sang in nightspots ranging from London's Pizza on the Park to the Ballroom in New York City. A CD of their performance cabaret, “Wallowitch and Ross” (Miranda Music) was released in 2003 to accompany the documentary film of the couple, "Wallowitch & Ross: This Moment."
As a solo cabaret entertainer, Wallowitch performed throughout the world and was famous for his long-running hit revue, The World of Wallowitch. He was the recipient of both the MAC and Bistro Awards for Composer of the Year.
Wallowitch performed and recorded the song "Hillary Oh Hillary," for Hillary Clinton during her run for U.S. Senate. Henry and Bobbie Shaffner, veteran members of ASCAP, wrote the lyrics and set them to the tune of the old Groucho Marx song, "Lydia, the Tattooed Lady". Wallowitch and the Shaffners were inspired to write it after Clinton's six-hour long visit to Wallowitch's New York studio, where he performed for the former first lady. Later, he translated the Shaffner's lyrics to Yiddish, to create a version called "Hillary, Oy! Hillary!"
John Wallowitch lived and performed in New York City with his longtime partner Bertram Ross, until Ross's death on Apr 20, 2003.
Wallowitch died on August 15, 2007 in New York City.
- 1964: This Is John Wallowitch!!!, LP features cover artwork by Andy Warhol (Serenus Records SEP 2005)
- 1965: This Is The Other Side Of John Wallowitch!!!, LP features cover artwork by Andy Warhol (Serenus Records SEP 2006)
- 197?: Now appearing at Dreamland Memory Ballroom, LP (Serenus Records SEPS 22015)
- 1984: Back On The Town [LIVE] (DRG Label)
- 1993: My Manhattan, featuring Bertram Ross & Dixie Carter (DRG Label)
- 2002: Wallowitch & Ross, John Wallowitch & Bertram Ross.
- 2008: Miracle On 71st Street, (13 Stories Records) (iTunes)
Wallowitch performed by others
- 1983: Dixie Carter Sings John Wallowitch Live at the Carlyle (DRG Label)
- 2003: Frankie and Johnny and Me, Lynn Lobban performing John Wallowitch songs (LML Music)
- Wallowitch & Ross website
- Obituary in the "New York Times"
- Obituary in The (London) Times
- Jonathan Frank Interview with Wallowitch
- A review of Wallowitch's cabaret
- The John Wallowitch collection of noncommercial video at the New York Public Library