Jack Yellen

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Jack Yellen
Background information
Birth nameJacob Selig Yellen
Born(1892-07-06)July 6, 1892
Raczki, Congress Poland, Russian Empire
DiedApril 17, 1991(1991-04-17) (aged 98)
Springville, Concord, New York, United States
Occupation(s)Lyricist, screenwriter
Years active1915–1969

Jack Selig Yellen (Jacek Jeleń; July 6, 1892 – April 17, 1991)[1] was an American lyricist and screenwriter. He is best remembered for writing the lyrics to the songs "Happy Days Are Here Again",[2] which was used by Franklin Roosevelt as the theme song for his successful 1932 presidential campaign, and "Ain't She Sweet", a Tin Pan Alley standard.

Early life and education[edit]

Born to a Jewish family[3] in Poland, Yellen emigrated with his family to the United States when he was five years old. The oldest of seven children, he was raised in Buffalo, New York and began writing songs in high school. He graduated with honors from the University of Michigan in 1913 where he was a member of the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity. After graduating he became a reporter for the Buffalo Courier, continuing to write songs on the side.


Yellen's first collaborator on a song was George L. Cobb, with whom he wrote a number of Dixie songs including "Alabama Jubilee", "Are You From Dixie?", and "All Aboard for Dixieland". He is best remembered for his collaboration with composer Milton Ager. He and Ager entered the music publishing business as part owners of the Ager-Yellen-Bornstein Music Company. Yellen also worked with many other composers such as Sammy Fain and Harold Arlen.

Yellen's collaboration with vaudeville star, Sophie Tucker, for whom he was retained to write special material, produced one of Tucker's most well known songs, "My Yiddishe Momme", a song in English with some Yiddish text. Yellen wrote the lyrics which were set to music by Lew Pollack.[4] Yellen wrote the lyrics to more than 200 popular songs of the early 20th century. Two of his most recognized songs, still popular in the 21st century, are "Happy Days Are Here Again" and "Ain't She Sweet".

Yellen's screenwriting credits included George White's Scandals, Pigskin Parade, Little Miss Broadway, and Submarine Patrol.

Awards and legacy[edit]

Yellen was one of the earliest members of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and served on its board of directors from 1951 to 1969.[5] In 1972 he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame,[6] and the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame in 1996.[7]

Personal life[edit]

In August 1922, Yellen married 21 year old Sylvia Stiller of Buffalo. They had two children, David and Beth.[8][2] In 1944 he married his second wife, Lucille Hodgeman. Lucille was born in Minnesota in 1915 and raised in Los Angeles. As a dancer and choreographer, she worked with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and 20th Century Fox under the stage name Lucille Day on over 20 films, including The Wizard of Oz.[9] The Yellens lived for many years on a farm on Mortons Corners Road in the town of Concord, New York. Jack Yellen died April 17, 1991 in Concord at the age of 98.[2] Lucille Yellen died on August 15, 2010 at age 95.[10]

Broadway musicals[edit]

Film scores[edit]

Selected songs[edit]


  1. ^ Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 2749. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  2. ^ a b c Eleanor Blau (April 19, 1991). "Jack Yellen, 97, Wrote the Lyrics to 'Happy Days Are Here Again'". The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 21, 2014. Retrieved February 1, 2010.
  3. ^ Tampa Jewish Federation: "Jews in the News: Carrie Fisher, Norman Lear and Stephen Tobolowsky" Archived 2017-03-19 at the Wayback Machine retrieved March 18, 2017
  4. ^ Laurie, Joe, Jr. Vaudeville: From the Honky-tonks to the Palace. New York: Henry Holt, 1953. p. 59.
  5. ^ Bert A. Folkart (April 19, 1991). "Jack Yellen; Composer of 'Happy Days Are Here Again'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 11, 2014.
  6. ^ "Jack Yellen's Biography at Songwriters Hall of Fame". Archived from the original on 2014-10-10.
  7. ^ "Jack Yellen's entry at Buffalo Music Hall of Fame". Archived from the original on 2014-10-16.
  8. ^ "Marriages in the Profession: Yellen-Stiller". Billboard. 19 August 1922. p. 106.
  9. ^ "The ASCAP Foundation Jack and Lucille Yellen Award". Archived from the original on 2014-10-17.
  10. ^ "Lucille Yellen, 95, dancer in Hollywood films, widow of songwriter". The Buffalo News. No. Page D6. October 2, 2010.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g Parker, Bernard S. (2007). World War I Sheet Music - Volume 1. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. pp. 21, 45, 88, 91, 113, 323, 325. ISBN 978-0-7864-2798-7.
  12. ^ a b c d e f Parker, Bernard S. (2007). World War I Sheet Music - Volume 2. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. pp. 518, 590, 669, 674, 764, 776. ISBN 978-0-7864-2799-4.


  • Laurie, Joe, Jr. Vaudeville: From the Honky-tonks to the Palace. New York: Henry Holt, 1953. p. 59.
  • Yellen, Jack: "The Songwriter and the Red Head". Buffalo Courier Express March 15–22, 1970.

External links[edit]