Harry Ruby

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Harry Ruby
Harry Rubenstein

(1895-01-27)January 27, 1895
DiedFebruary 23, 1974(1974-02-23) (aged 79)
  • Pianist
  • composer
  • songwriter
  • screenwriter
  • Chloe Carter
    (div. 1934)
  • (m. 1936; died 1973)

Harry Rubenstein (January 27, 1895 – February 23, 1974), known professionally as Harry Ruby, was an American pianist, composer, songwriter and screenwriter,[2] who was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970.[3] He was married to silent film actress Eileen Percy.


Ruby was born in New York City in 1895.[2] After failing at his early ambition to become a professional baseball player, he toured the vaudeville circuit as a pianist with the Bootblack Trio and the Messenger Boys Trio.

In his early career worked as a pianist and song plugger for the Gus Edwards and Harry Von Tilzer publishing firms (one of his co-workers at Edwards' place was the young Walter Winchell, who was also a song plugger). Ruby also played in vaudeville acts, nickelodeons and cafes throughout New York.

From 1917-1920, Ruby collaborated with songwriters Edgar Leslie, Sam Lewis, Joe Young and George Jessel on the hit songs “What’ll We Do Saturday Night When the Town Goes Dry”, “When Those Sweet Hawaiian Babies Roll Their Eyes”, “Come on Papa”, “Daddy Long Legs” and “And He’d Say Oo-La-La Wee Wee.”[4]

Ruby found his most sustained success as a composer after meeting the man who would become his longtime partner, lyricist Bert Kalmar.[2] Kalmar and Ruby were a successful songwriting team for nearly three decades until Kalmar's death in 1947, a partnership portrayed in the 1950 MGM musical Three Little Words, starring Fred Astaire as Kalmar and Red Skelton as Ruby.[5]

A good friend of Groucho Marx, Ruby appeared several times on his television program, You Bet Your Life. In his 1972 concert at Carnegie Hall, Marx gave the following introduction before performing a song of Ruby's: "I have a friend in Hollywood ... I think I do, I'm not so sure. [laughter] His name is Harry Ruby [applause] and he wrote a lot of songs that I've sung over the years ..."[6]

Today, Father, is Father's Day
And we're giving you a tie
It's not much we know
It is just our way of showing you
We think you're a regular guy
You say that it was nice of us to bother
But it really was a pleasure to fuss
For according to our mother
You're our father
And that's good enough for us
Yes, that's good enough for us

In The Dick Cavett Show, recorded June 13, 1969, Marx also sang a second stanza, and introduced it with, "Isn't that a beautiful melody? And a beautiful sentiment: ... Today, father, is father's day. ... 16 men in that orchestra: nine of them are illegitimate children [laughter]. Nine and a half including the director."

The tie that you got
Didn't cost such a lot
And we'll give you the same tie next year.
You tell us it was nice of us to bother
But it really was a pleasure to fuss
For they say, a child can only have one father
And you are the one for us.
And you are the one for us.


Selected film scores [7]

Selected screenplays [7]

Selected Broadway scores [8]

  • Ziegfeld Follies of 1918 (1918) - revue - featured songwriter
  • Helen of Troy, New York (1923) - musical - co-composer and co-lyricist
  • No Other Girl (1924) - musical - co-composer and co-lyricist
  • Holka Polka (1925) - musical - co-book-editor
  • The Ramblers (1926) - musical - co-composer, co-lyricist and co-bookwriter
  • Lucky (1927) - musical - co-bookwriter
  • The Five O'Clock Girl (1927) - musical - composer
  • She's My Baby (1928) - musical - co-bookwriter
  • Good Boy (1928) - musical - co-composer and co-lyricist
  • Animal Crackers (1928) - musical - co-composer and co-lyricist
  • Top Speed (1929) - musical - co-producer and co-bookwriter
  • High Kickers (1941) - musical - co-composer, co-lyricist and co-bookwriter
  • Fosse (1998) - revue - featured songwriter for "Who's Sorry Now?" from All That Jazz 1979

Notable songs[2]

So Long Oo-Long (How Long You Gonna Be Gone?) - played by the Van Eps Quartet. Original music by Harry Brooks and Burt Kalmar. Arranged for banjo by Ruby Brooks.

Selected bibliography


Ruby died on February 23, 1974, in Woodland Hills, California,[2] and was interred at the Chapel of the Pines in Los Angeles.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Rochester Evening Journal - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 2013-12-05.
  2. ^ a b c d e Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 1043. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
  3. ^ Harry Ruby biography Archived 2016-11-12 at the Wayback Machine, Songwritershalloffame.org. Retrieved April 29, 2013.
  4. ^ "Harry Ruby". Songwriters Hall of Fame. Retrieved January 27, 2023.
  5. ^ Harry Ruby song catalog Archived 2016-08-07 at the Wayback Machine, Songwritershalloffame.org. Retrieved April 29, 2013.
  6. ^ An Evening With Groucho (Beverly Hills: A & M Records, 1972), Archive.org. Retrieved August 20, 2013.
  7. ^ a b Harry Ruby filmography IMDb.com. Retrieved: April 29, 2013.
  8. ^ Harry Ruby stage scores IBDb.com. Retrieved: April 29, 2013.
  9. ^ "What's a Nice Jewish Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This? – Arab Kitsch".
  10. ^ Philip George Furia; Michael L. Lasser (2006). America's Songs: The Stories Behind the Songs of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley. Taylor & Francis. pp. 35–. ISBN 978-0-415-97246-8.
  11. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 125. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.

External links[edit]

Streaming audio