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Bert Kalmar: Wikis


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Bert Kalmar (February 10, 1884 - September 18, 1947) was a Jewish American lyricist.

He was born in New York, New York. He ran away from home at the age of 10 to become a magician at a tent show, and retained an interest in magic all his life. He never got much of an education, but decided to make a career in show business. He earned enough money as a vaudeville performer to start a music publishing company, Kalmar and Puck. He hired Harry Ruby as a song plugger, and as a result of a knee injury that stopped him from dancing professionally, turned to writing songs full-time. Ruby, who had got a job at the firm of Waterson, Berlin and Snyder, got Kalmar a job at the same firm writing song lyrics. Before World War I he had begun to write lyrics for a number of different composers. One of them, Ruby, who had also had a number of collaborators, saw a strong compatibility between the two, and by 1920, Kalmar and Ruby recognized that they should form a permanent songwriting team.

His partnership with Harry Ruby is portrayed in the 1950 MGM musical Three Little Words starring Fred Astaire and Red Skelton. He sometimes worked with other songwriters as well, including Oscar Hammerstein II and Ted Snyder.

Kalmar is also credited with writing some melodies, and wrote or co-wrote some Broadway theater play scripts, especially musical comedy.

Bert Kalmar worked in Tin Pan Alley, and wrote for movies and some early television.

He died in Los Angeles, California and was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. On his death, Ruby almost totally ceased writing songs, though he lived 27 more years.

Bert Kalmar is an inductee of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Hit songs by Kalmar and Ruby

Work for Broadway

Note: All works are musicals unless otherwise noted.

  • Ziegfeld Follies of 1920 (1920) - revue - featured co-songwriter for "I'm a Vamp from East Broadway"
  • Helen of Troy, New York (1923) - co-composer and co-lyricist with Harry Ruby
  • Ziegfeld Follies of 1923 (1923) - revue - featured lyricist for "Society Bud"
  • No Other Girl (1924) - co-composer and co-lyricist with Harry Ruby
  • Holka Polka (1925) - book-editor
  • The Ramblers (1926) - co-composer, co-lyricist, and co-bookwriter with Harry Ruby
  • Lucky (1927) - co-writer with Otto Harbach, Harry Ruby and Jerome Kern
  • The Five O'Clock Girl (1927) - lyricist (music by Harry Ruby)
    • Revived in 1981
  • She's My Baby (1928) - co-bookwriter with Harry Ruby
  • Top Speed (1929) - co-writer and co-producer with Harry Ruby and Guy Bolton
  • High Kickers (1941) - co-composer, co-lyricist with Harry Ruby and co-bookwriter with Ruby and George Jessel
  • The Corn is Green (1943) - actor in the role of "Will Hughes"


  • Fosse (1999) - revue - featured lyricist for "Who's Sorry Now?"

External links

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