Richard A. Whiting

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For other people of the same name, see Richard Whiting.
Not to be confused with politician Richard H. Whiting, who also lived in Peoria, Illinois.
Richard A. Whiting
Birth name Richard Armstrong Whiting
Born (1891-11-12)November 12, 1891
Peoria, Illinois
Died February 10, 1938(1938-02-10) (aged 46)
Beverly Hills, California
Occupations composer, songwriter
Years active 1910-1938
Associated acts Raymond B. Egan
Gus Kahn
Leo Robin
Oscar Hammerstein II
Johnny Mercer

Richard Armstrong Whiting (November 12, 1891 – February 10, 1938) was an American composer of popular songs including the standards "Hooray for Hollywood", "Ain't We Got Fun?" and "On the Good Ship Lollipop". He was nominated for an Academy Award for best original song in 1936 for "When Did You Leave Heaven" from the movie Sing, Baby Sing.

Biography[edit]

He was born in Peoria, Illinois to a musical family. His father Frank Whiting was a real estate agent and gifted violinist and his mother Blossom was a piano teacher, together they instilled a love of music and worked towards nurturing his natural gift of piano playing. He attended the Harvard Military School in Los Angeles. Upon his graduation, Whiting started a vaudeville act with his college friend Marshall Neilan, together they briefly toured the U.S. writing songs, singing, and playing the piano. Unfortunately neither one had the stage presence or singing talent to become full-time performers. They broke up the duo and went their separate ways, Neilan to Hollywood where he would go on to be a very successful film director and actor, and Whiting to Detroit to try and jump-start a career as a professional songwriter. In 1913 Whiting began his career as a song plugger for Jerome H. Remick publishing company, within a year, he was the manager of the Detroit office, being paid US$25 per week. As an occasional talent scout, Whiting nurtured the careers of several songwriters from the day, including most notably, George Gershwin, Whiting, heard Gershwin playing one day and gave him a job as a song plugger for Remick company, this act of kindness resulted in a life-long friendship between the two powerhouse composers. To supplement his income, at the time, Whiting worked with a local hotel's Hawaiian band, playing piano in light blackface, earning him an extra $10 a week. In 1914 Whiting had his first two hit songs, "I Wonder Where My Lovin' Man Has Gone" and "It's Tulip Time in Holland" the latter song became a massive hit, selling over a million copies, Whiting however received none of the royalties, having sold off the publishing to Remick in exchange for a Steinway Grand. During his time at Remick Whiting had a substantial output, mostly with former bank-clerk, Ray Egan including the beloved classic, "Till We Meet Again" published in 1918. The song quickly became the largest sheet music seller of all-time, even today. At last count the song was said to have sold over 11 million copies. Other hit songs by Whiting, while he was working at Remick, include "Where the Black-Eyed Susans Grow", "The Japanese Sandman", "Bimini Bay" (Lyrics by Egan and Gus Kahn), "Ain't We Got Fun?" (Lyrics by Egan and Kahn]]) and "Ukulele Lady" (Lyrics by Kahn).

In 1929, Whiting moved to Hollywood where there were more opportunists for songwriters during the Depression. In Hollywood he wrote a number of film scores and classic songs. With Johnny Mercer he wrote the theme song of Tinseltown, "Hooray for Hollywood", shortly before his death. During his career, Whiting collaborated with such songwriting giants as BG DeSylva, Johnny Mercer, Neil Moret, Leo Robin, Ralph Rainger, Gus Kahn, Oscar Hammerstein II, Haven Gillespie, Seymour Simons, Nacio Herb Brown, Harry Akst, Walter Donaldson, Ray Egan, and Sidney Clare, to produce a number of hits (listed below). He also wrote a number of scores for Broadway plays.

A tribute to Whiting's music along with a medley of his best-known songs formed part of the 1980 Broadway musical A Day in Hollywood / A Night in the Ukraine.

He was the father of singer/actress Margaret Whiting and actress Barbara Whiting Smith, and the grandson of Rep. Richard H. Whiting.

In 1938, he died from a heart attack at the age of 46, at the height of his career. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural class, in 1970.

Film scores[edit]

Broadway show scores[edit]

  • Toot Sweet
  • George White's Scandals of 1919
  • Take a Chance which featured two major hits with music by Whiting "You're an Old Smoothie," and "Eadie Was a Lady"

Free for All[edit]

Original Music by Richard A. Whiting, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II

Act 1 consists of

  • "I Love Him, the Rat" sung by Anita Allen and Joe Butler (Perpetual Student at Leland Stanford)
  • "Free For All" sung by Michael Byrne (a Radical Poet) and The Gang
  • "The Girl Next Door" sung by Anita Allen and Steve Potter, Jr. (Son of Stephen, Sr.)
  • "Living in Sin" sung by Gracie Maynard, Joan Summer (Youngest of the Gang), Joe Butler (Perpetual Student at Leland Stanford) and Andy Bradford
  • "Just Eighteen" sung by Joan Summer (Youngest of the Gang) and Andy Bradford
  • "Not That I Care" sung by Anita Allen and Steve Potter, Jr. (Son of Stephen, Sr.)
  • "Slumber Song" Sung by Marishka Tarasov and Michael Byrne (a Radical Poet)

Act 2 consists of

  • "When Your Boy Becomes a Man" sung by Silver Dollar Kate and Anita Allen
  • "Tonight" sung by Marishka Tarasov and Anita Allen
  • "Nevada Moonlight" sung by Joe Butler (Perpetual Student at Leland Stanford), Gracie Maynard and Ensemble

Richard Whiting was also referenced in the 1980 Broadway show a Day in Hollywood/ a Night in the Ukraine where a medley of his songs are performed in the first act. One of the actors comically portrays him during the song It All Comes Out of the Piano.[citation needed]

Hit songs[edit]

Notable Recordings[edit]

Frank Sinatra recorded Whiting's "Too Marvelous for Words" on his album Songs for Swingin' Lovers!. Sinatra also recorded Whiting's "She's Funny That Way" on his album Nice 'n' Easy, and other songs such as "My Ideal".

Tony Bennett recorded many of Whiting's songs, such as "My Ideal" on his album Here's to the Ladies, "True Blue Lou" and "She's Funny That Way."

Margaret Whiting (his daughter) recorded and made famous several Whiting hits including "Guilty", "Too Marvelous for Words" and "Ain't We Got Fun?"

Some other notable artists to record Whiting songs:

Modern Day Usage[edit]

In 2006 the film A Good Year starring Russel Crow and Marion Cotillard featured the song "Breezin' Along with the Breeze" with music by Whiting and lyrics by Haven Gillespie and Seymour Simons

In 2009 Renee Olstead used the song "Ain't We Got Fun" written by Whiting, Raymond B. Egan and Gus Kahn for her album Skylark

In 2010 the show Boardwalk Empire used the music from Whiting's "The Japanese Sandman" in the first 5 episodes of the show. A version with lyrics by Raymond B. Egan appeared in the show on October 24, 2010.

In 2010 Enrique Iglesias used a segment of "On the Good Ship Lollipop" written by Whiting and Sidney Clare for Bright Eyes in his YouTube video for the song "Tonight (I'm Lovin' You)"

In 2011 Diet Coke used Whiting's music to the song "Hooray for Hollywood" in their Oscar commercial which played nation wide in movie theaters.

References[edit]

External links[edit]