Walter Donaldson

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This article is on the American songwriter. For the snooker player, see Walter Donaldson (snooker player).
Walter Donaldson
Born(1893-02-15)February 15, 1893
OriginBrooklyn, New York, United States
DiedJuly 15, 1947(1947-07-15) (aged 54)
Santa Monica, California, United States
Occupation(s)Composer
Lyricist
Publishing Company entrepreneur
Associated actsGus Kahn
George A. Whiting
Websitewalterdonaldson.net

Walter Donaldson (February 15, 1893 – July 15, 1947) was an American prolific popular songwriter and publishing company founder, composing many hit songs of the 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, that have become standards and form part of the Great American Songbook.

History[edit]

Walter Donaldson was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of a piano teacher. While still in school he wrote original music for school productions, and had his first professional songs published in 1915. The following year he had a hit with "The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady".

During World War I, Donaldson entertained troops at Camp Upton, New York. His time there inspired him to write How Ya Gonna Keep 'em Down on the Farm (After They've Seen Paree)?.[1]

After serving in the United States Army in World War I, Donaldson was hired as a songwriter by Irving Berlin Music Company. He stayed with Berlin until 1928, producing many hit songs, then in 1928 established his own publishing company. His company was legally known as "Donaldson, Douglas & Gumble, Inc", but all the publications had Walter Donaldson's name in large letters, and the legal name of the company in fine print.

Donalson frequently worked with lyricist, Gus Kahn.[2]

Donaldson is primarily known as a composer, rather than as a lyricist, although he wrote words and music for dozens of songs. Among the big hits for which he wrote both words and music were At Sundown and Little White Lies. In his prolific career, he published some 600 original songs.[citation needed]

Selected works[edit]

At the end of the 1920s, Donaldson moved to Hollywood and worked composing and arranging music for motion pictures. His film credits include work on such pictures as Glorifying the American Girl, Suzy, The Great Ziegfeld, Panama Hattie, Follow the Boys and Nevada. He married Dorothy, who was on the New York stage as Wanda Mansfield, in 1935 and they divorced in 1942 after having two children.

Walter Donaldson retired in 1943 and died four years later in Santa Monica, California after being ill for a year with kidney problems. He is buried at an unmarked grave at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Brooklyn.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Holsinger, M. Paul, "How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm?" (Song), War and American Popular Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. Edited by M Paul Holsinger, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999, ISBN 0313299080, p.207.
  2. ^ Encyclopedia of Music in the 20th Century. p. 336. Retrieved 26 November 2018.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Holsinger, M. Paul, "How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm?" (Song) in War and American Popular Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. Edited by M Paul Holsinger, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999. ISBN 0313299080

External links[edit]