It was created as the title song for the 1928 adventure film-romance Ramona (based on the novel Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson). The song was used again in the 1936 remake of the movie. Ramona was recorded in 1928 by Dolores del Río for the film. Gene Austin's version charted for 17 weeks, eight weeks at #1, and easily topped a million in sales.
On record it was a popular hit, usually performed as a romantic ballad, sometimes with a Latin inflection by "Whispering" Jack Smith and, in an idiosyncratic arrangement recorded on 4 January 1928, the Paul Whiteman Orchestra. The Paul Whiteman version, Victor 21214-A, featuring Bix Beiderbecke on cornet, was #1 for 3 weeks on the Billboard charts in 1928. Gene Austin's recording was #1 for 8 weeks the same year. Ruth Etting recorded a version also that reached #10 It was a German, and Dutch number one hit in 1960 for the Blue Diamonds, arranged in an upbeat style similar to the Everly Brothers recordings of that period. A few years later it was a UK hit for The Bachelors. Singer Billy Walker revived the song for the country market in 1968, reaching the top 10 of the US country charts. In 1958 Jim Reeves recorded ramona for his lp Girls i have known.
Grady Martin released an instrumental version in 1965 on his Instrumentally Yours album. This song was covered by the late Singaporean singer/songwriter/lyricist Su Yin (舒雲) in Mandarin Chinese language with Chinese lyrics written by Li Tian (黎天) and given the title name of蕾夢娜, appearing on his LP album 黃昏放牛＊一片青青的草地, and released by EMI Columbia Records in 1967.
- "L. Wolfe Gilbert, Composer, Dead. Wrote 'Ramona' and Many Other Successful Songs". New York Times. 13 July 1970. Retrieved 2010-07-28.
L. Wolfe Gilbert, composer of more than 250 songs, including 'Ramona,' the first motion picture theme song, died today of a stroke. He was 83 years old.
- CD liner notes: Chart-Toppers of the Twenties, 1998 ASV Ltd.
- Based on the tsort.info chart database (http://tsort.info/music/jpejrr.htm)
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