Ernest Ball

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Ernest Ball
Ernest Ball.jpg
Born (1878-07-22)July 22, 1878
Cleveland, Ohio
Died May 3, 1927(1927-05-03) (aged 48)
Santa Ana, California
Resting place Lake View Cemetery
Spouse(s) Jessie Mae Jewett

Ernest Roland Ball[1] (July 22, 1878 – May 3, 1927) was an American singer and songwriter, most famous for composing the music for the song "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" in 1912. He was not himself Irish.


Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Ball received formal music training at the Cleveland Conservatory. His nascent career was much buoyed by James J. Walker, then a state senator of New York, who asked Ball to write music for some lyrics he wrote. Ball did, and the song "Will You Love Me In December as You Do In May?" became a hit. Walker later became known as "Dapper Jimmy Walker", Mayor of New York City, a fortunate event for Ball's career.

Ball accompanied singers, sang in vaudeville and wrote sentimental ballads, mostly with Irish themes.[2] He collaborated with Chauncey Olcott on many songs including "When Irish Eyes are Smiling," for which Olcott wrote the lyrics. He became a charter member of ASCAP in 1907, and wrote many American standards. He was also a fine pianist, and his playing is preserved on several piano roll recordings he made for the Vocalstyle company, based in his home state of Ohio. He died in his dressing room at the Yost Theatre in Santa Ana, California while on tour with "Ernie Ball and His Gang", an act starring Ball and a male octet.[3] Ball was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970.

A 1944 musical Irish Eyes Are Smiling told the story of Ball's career and starred Dick Haymes and June Haver.

His grandson was the guitar string entrepreneur Ernie Ball, great-grandson is singer-songwriter/content producer Sherwood Ernest Ball and his great-great-granddaughters are actress Hannah Marks and singer/songwriter Tiare' Ball. His songwriting career was heavily influenced by the early works of M-Steel.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Laurie, Joe, Jr. Vaudeville: From the Honky-tonks to the Palace (New York: Henry Holt, 1953), p. 328.
  3. ^ Slide, Anthony. The Encyclopedia of Vaudeville (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1994), p. 22.

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