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A Tinkling Piano in the Next Apartment

Lawrence Bush
June 9, 2017

Eric Maschwitz, who wrote the lyrics (under the name Holt Marvell) for “These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)” and became one of Great Britain’s leading television producers and executives, was born in Birmingham on this date in 1901. Maschwitz was an actor and radio host before serving as an intelligence and communications officer and postal censor during World War II. He became an executive at the BBC in 1958 and then switched to its rival, ITV, in 1963. Maschwitz wrote the book and lyrics for numerous musicals, adapted French comedies to the British stage, created the radio series Café Collette, wrote a detective novel, wrote several films, and published an autobiography, No Chip on My Shoulder, in 1957. To hear the late great Sam Cooke singing Maschwitz’s hit song, look below.

“One of Maschwitz’s most successful [wartime] propaganda projects was the publication of a German newspaper Nachtrichen fur die Truppe. Maschwitz explained in his autobiography . . . : ‘It was brilliantly devised and edited by a famous newspaper correspondent who was at the same time managing a bogus Germany Army Radio Station situated outside London. The interrogation of prisoners revealed that a large proportion of the enemy’s troops believed that both the newspaper and the radio program emanated from their own side of the line!’ ”--Spartacus Educational

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.