Ned Miller (composer)

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Ned Miller
Ned miller.jpg
Background information
Birth name Nathan Miller
Born (1899-08-02)August 2, 1899
London, United Kingdom
Died January 26, 1990(1990-01-26) (aged 90)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Genres Blues, jazz, waltz
Occupation(s) Composer, singer, actor, music publisher
Years active 1922–1990
Associated acts Vaudeville, The Jack Benny Program

Nathan "Ned" Miller (August 2, 1899 – January 26, 1990[1]) was a British-born American songwriter, composer, music publisher, and actor who wrote the hit songs, "Why Should I Cry Over You", (a waltz ballad) in 1922, "Sunday" (a jazz standard) in 1926, and "Little Joe" (a jazz standard) in 1931. His music has been recorded by Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, Al Jolson, Carmen McRae, Stan Getz, Peggy Lee, the Ink Spots, Johnny Mercer, Benny Goodman, Andy Williams, and many others.[2][3][4][5][6] His music has also been featured in weekly TV programs and films.[7][8][9][10][11] In 1982, Ned Miller was inducted into the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Golden Circle after having been a member for fifty years.[12]

Early life and career[edit]

Miller was born in London and emigrated to the United States with his family when he was a small child. At the age of seven, he quit school to support his brothers and sisters by singing on the street corner for pennies a day. In 1922, Ned Miller moved to Chicago and joined with Jack Benny on the vaudeville circuit where Benny included him in his acts. From that time on, they became lifelong friends often collaborating on television shows, TV specials, and even musical compositions.[13]


Ned Miller Sheet Music Featuring Jack Benny


Based on his success in vaudeville, Miller began writing and publishing his music in the 1920s and became part of the Chicago jazz sounds and Tin Pan Alley.[14] Before long, his songs were recorded by Victor Records (acquired by RCA Victor), the Virginians' "Why Should I Cry Over You?" in 1922, the Paul Whiteman Orchestra in 1923, and the Jean Goldkette Orchestra in 1926.[15] In 1926, when Jule Styne was only 17 years old and beginning his career, he collaborated with Ned Miller on “Sunday,” which became an instant hit and the first best-selling song for Styne. "Sunday" also became a “parlor song,” popularly sung by friends and family gathering around the piano for entertainment. Art Tatum included the song in a collection of his Parlor Songs. Al Jolson liked the song so much that he helped promote it.[16] “Sunday” later became the theme song for the 1940s radio show of husband and wife team Alice Faye and Phil Harris.The song charted three times in 1927.[17] Cliff Edwards (Ukulele Ike) took it to number three: Gene Austin (the “Voice of the Southland”) took it to number 11 accompanied by pianist Abel Baer; and the vaudeville singing trio, the Keller Sisters and Lynch, recorded “Sunday” with the Jean Goldkette Orchestra where their version rose to number 11.[18] “Sunday,” has been performed regularly by a wide variety of noted jazz musicians. Many saxophonists have recorded it: Lester Young, Lee Konitz, and John Coltrane; Ben Webster on two occasions with fellow saxists Gerry Mulligan and Don Byas; Harry Allen with the John Pizzarelli Trio; and Stan Getz with the Oscar Peterson Trio. Other recordings include vibraphonist Red Norvo; trumpeter Sweets Edison; pianists Fats Waller and Hank Jones; and vocalists Maxine Sullivan, Johnny Hartman, Carmen McRae, June Christy, Nat King Cole, Carol Sloane and the Buddy Rich Ensemble.[19] The multi-Grammy winning vocal quartet, The Manhattan Transfer, closed each episode of their weekly television variety show with the song, "Sunday."[20][21][22]

In addition to "Sunday" and "Why Should I Cry Over You", Mr. Miller wrote hundreds of songs during his lifetime, including "Kentucky Lullaby", "Don't Mind The Rain", "What Will You Do", "You Don't Like It—Not Much", "Heartbreaker", "Sicilian Tarantella", and many others.[23][24][25][26][27][28][29]

Jack Benny also collaborated with Ned Miller on several compositions and recordings. For example, in 1922, Jack Benny recorded "Why Should I Cry Over You" in 1922 and co-wrote the song, "You're Sweet That Way", in 1962. In 1976, Irving Fein, Jack Benny's manager and producer, interviewed Mr. Miller for the book Jack Benny: an Intimate Portrait, where he described their lifelong friendship and artistic collaborations.[30]


In addition to his music, Miller also worked for years with Jack Benny on The Jack Benny Program, television appearances, commercials, and NBC specials. He appeared in 22 episodes of The Jack Benny Program between 1961–1965 and often served as a stand-in for blocking shots due to a similarity in appearance. The show earned 20 Emmy nominations during its run and won seven, including two for Benny himself and one for Best Comedy Series.[31]

Episode Role Release Date
Death Row Sketch Stage Manager 12 February 1961
Jack Goes to Las Vegas Bellboy 19 March 1961
Jack Takes the Stewarts to a Play Ned Miller 12 November 1961
The Golf Show Ned Miller 26 November 1961
Jack Goes to Cafeteria Ned Miller 10 December 1961
Jack Writes Song Locksmith's Assistant 17 December 1961
The Phil Silvers Show Ned Miller 9 October 1962
Jack Is Kidnapped Policeman 12 March 1963
Robinson Crusoe Sketch Ned Miller 19 November 1963
The Nat King Cole Show Autograph Hound 21 January 1964
The Bobby Darin Show Ned Miller 28 January 1964
Jack Is Boxing Manager Ned Miller 17 March 1964
The Lucille Ball Show Town Crier 2 October 1964
Jungle Sketch Ned Miller 6 November 1964
Jack Loses a Raffle Pete 13 November 1964
The Wayne Newton Show Orchestra Leader 4 December 1964
Jack Goes to the Monkey's House Ned Miller 5 February 1965
The Stradivarius Story Ned Miller 12 February 1965
Jack Joins Acrobats Villager 19 February 1965
Jack Finds a Double Janitor 12 March 1965
Dennis Opens a Bank Account Guard 26 March 1965
Jack Has Dog Trouble Customer 9 April 1965


Long after retirement, Miller continued to write music for his family, friends, and neighbors. Since Miller's death (at 90 years of age), his music catalog has been actively maintained by a granddaughter, Jennifer Gerhold, Ph.D., and his songs continue to be played all over the world.[32][33]


  1. ^ "Ned Miller (composer)". American History: Archives Center. Retrieved April 25, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Ned Miller (composer)", Frank Sinatra "Sunday", Capitol Records 
  3. ^ "Ned Miller (composer)". Nat King Cole “Why Should I Cry Over You”. EMI FEIST CATALOG INC. 
  4. ^ "Ned Miller (composer)". Frank Sinatra “Why Should I Cry Over You”. EMI FEIST CATALOG INC. Retrieved March 16, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Ned Miller (composer)". Louis Armstrong “Little Joe”. EMI FEIST CATALOG INC. 
  6. ^ "Ned Miller (composer)". Carmen McRae “Sunday”. EMI FEIST CATALOG INC. 
  7. ^ "Ned Miller(composer)", "Sunday" 
  8. ^ The Billboard. Ned Miller (Composer), “Why Should I Cry Over You”. The Billboard. October 11, 1947. p. 30. 
  9. ^ The Billboard. Ned Miller (Composer), “Why Should I Cry Over You”. The Billboard. November 15, 1947. p. 26. 
  10. ^ "Sunday (1926)". JazzStandards.Com. Retrieved March 3, 2011. 
  11. ^ Bloom, Ken (2005). The American Songbook. Ned Miller (Composer), “Sunday”. Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers. p. 293. 
  12. ^ ASCAP in Action: Winter 1982, "The ASCAP Golden Circle 50 Year Members", p. 45
  13. ^ Fein, Irving A. (1977) "Jack Benny: An Intimate Biography", pp. 23-25, 204, 274, 293.
  14. ^ Jasen, David A. (2002) "Tin Pan Alley: an Encyclopedia of the Golden Age of American Song", p. 368
  15. ^ "Ned Miller (composer)". Victor Encyclopedic Discography of Victor Recordings. USCB Libraries(Regents of the University of California). 
  16. ^ "Parlor Songs". Ned Miller (composer) Art Tatum Al Jolson. 
  17. ^ Jasen, David A. (2002) "Tin Pan Alley: an Encyclopedia of the Golden Age of American Song", p. 368
  18. ^ Jasen, David A. (2002) "Tin Pan Alley: an Encyclopedia of the Golden Age of American Song", p. 377
  19. ^ "Sunday (1926)". JazzStandards.Com. Retrieved March 3, 2011. 
  20. ^ "Manhattan Transfer "Sunday"". Retrieved April 23, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Buddy Rich Ensemble". Retrieved April 25, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Carol Sloane". Retrieved April 25, 2011. 
  23. ^ American Film Institute (1999). The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures. How’s About It? Ned Miller (Composer), “Don’t Mind The Rain,” Universal Pictures, Company, Inc. p. 1103. ISBN 0-520-21521-4. 
  24. ^ American Film Institute (1999). The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures. Gang War Ned Miller (Composer), “My Suppressed Desire", FBO Pictures. p. 281. ISBN 0-520-21521-4. 
  25. ^ Taylor, Theodore (1979). Jule: the Story of Composer Jule Styne. Ned Miller (Composer) “Sunday”. Random House. p. 41. 
  26. ^ Jasen, David A. (2003). Tin Pan Alley: an Encyclopedia of the Golden Age of American Song. Ned Miller (Composer) “Sunday”. Taylor and Francis books, Inc. p. 368. ISBN 0-415-93877-5. 
  27. ^ Lewis, David H. (2002). Broadway Musicals: a Hundred Year History. Ned Miller (Composer) “Sunday”. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 55. ISBN 0-7864-1269-0. 
  28. ^ Garraty, John Arthur; Carnes, Mark C. (1999). American National Biography: Stratton-Tunney. Ned Miller (Composer) “Sunday”. Oxford University Press. p. 102. ISBN 978-0-19-512800-0. 
  29. ^ Clark, Al (1996). Raymond Chandler in Hollywood. Farewell, My Lovely, Ned Miller (Composer), “Sunday”. ISBN 978-1-879505-29-2. 
  30. ^ Fein, Irving A. (1977) "Jack Benny: An Intimate Biography", pp. 23-25, 204, 274, 293.
  31. ^ "Ned Miller (actor)". The Jack Benny Program. Retrieved April 25, 2011. 
  32. ^ "Ned Miller (composer)". ASCAP. Retrieved April 24, 2011. 
  33. ^ "Ned Miller (composer)". EMI. Retrieved April 24, 2011. 

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