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Harry Akst

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Harry Akst
Born(1894-08-15)August 15, 1894
New York City, New York, United States
DiedMarch 31, 1963(1963-03-31) (aged 68)
Hollywood, California, United States
Formerly ofIrving Berlin, Sam M. Lewis, Joe Young

Harry Akst (August 15, 1894 – March 31, 1963)[1] was an American songwriter, who started out his career as a pianist in vaudeville accompanying singers such as Nora Bayes, Frank Fay and Al Jolson.[2]

Life and career[edit]

Akst was born in New York, United States.

For four years, he worked for Bayes. Then in 1916, he enlisted in the army and was at Camp Upton when he met Irving Berlin (in 1921 they would write "Home Again Blues").[3] His most notable success came with the song he wrote in 1925 with Sam M. Lewis and Joe Young: "Dinah". It would go on to multiple hit recordings by Bing Crosby, The Boswell Sisters, Ethel Waters, Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong, The Mills Brothers, Sam Donahue, and Ted Lewis.

His movie scores include Bulldog Drummond, The Squall, This Is Heaven, On with the Show, Broadway Babies, The Mississippi Gambler, No, No, Nanette, Song of the West, Song of the Flame, Leathernecking, Palmy Days, The Kid from Spain, Dinah, Professional Sweetheart, Glamour, Stand Up and Cheer!, Change of Heart, The Silver Streak, Paddy O'Day, Star for a Night, Fight for Your Lady, Up the River, Battle of Broadway, Island in the Sky, Harvest Melody, Rosie the Riveter and This Time for Keeps.[3]

Akst worked on the Broadway production of Artists and Models (1927), eventually moving to Hollywood to continue songwriting for Broadway musicals. He appeared as the rehearsal pianist, show pit orchestra conductor, and concertmaster "Jerry" in 42nd Street (1933). Some of the same footage was used in Gold Diggers of 1937 (1936)--Akst can be seen conducting the pit orchestra during the overture which preceded the final production number (All's Fair in Love and War).

Harry Akst died in Hollywood, California, on March 31, 1963, at the age of 69,[1][3] and was laid to rest in Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills).

He was inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1983.[1]

Selected songs[edit]

Original works for Broadway[edit]

Other Broadway credits[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Thedeadrockstarsclub.com - accessed November 19, 2011
  2. ^ Laurie, Joe Jr. Vaudeville: From the Honky-tonks to the Palace. New York: Henry Holt, 1953. p. 326, 327.
  3. ^ a b c "Harry Akst Biography". Songwriters Hall of Fame. 1963-03-31. Archived from the original on 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2011-11-04.
  4. ^ Track 7 on the soundtrack of the film Amélie.

External links[edit]