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January 27: Hail, Hail, Harry Ruby!

January 27, 2014

308_img_anchor_homeHarry Ruby, a songwriter who contributed several of the Marx Brothers’ best tunes with his lyricist partner Bert Kalmar, including “Hail, Hail Fredonia!” from Duck Soup and “I’m Against It” from Horsefeathers, was born in New York on this date in 1895. Ruby and Kalmar also wrote “Who’s Sorry Now?” and “I Wanna Be Loved by You,” which was sung by Helen Kane (the “Boop-boop-a-doop girl,” thought to be the inspiration for Betty Boop), as well as Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot. Ruby was an active screenwriter, with credits for several Marx Brothers movies as well as other comedies. Early in his career, he worked for the Gus Edwards and Harry Von Tilzer publishing house, played piano in vaudeville acts, nickelodeons, and cafes throughout New York, and had ambitions to be a Major League baseball player. The 1950 film Three Little Words was a bio-pic about the Ruby-Kalmar partnership, with Fred Astaire playing Ruby. Harry Ruby died in Woodland Hills, California in 1974. Four years earlier, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. To see Groucho singing “I’m Against It” (which should be a Tea Party anthem), look below.

“Prosecutor: Chicolini, isn’t it true you sold Freedonia’s secret war code and plans?
“Chicolini: Sure! I sold a code and two pairs o’ plans!” —Harry Ruby et al., Duck Soup