JOE BLITMAN'S
FASHION & CELEBRITY DOLLS
2021 HOLIDAY ADVENT CALENDAR
DAY 23




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323-953-6490

 
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HARRY WARREN




1893-1981

Harry Warren was born Salvatore Antonio Guaragna in Brooklyn, NY. 




He grew up loving opera and liturgical music, but pop music is where he found his heart. 

By the time his 50 year career as a composer was over, he had published 500 songs that appeared in 56 movies.   Nominated for the Best Song Oscar 11 times, Warren won three.

There was no one who wrote more movie songs than Harry Warren.  And virtually everything he wrote was used in one movie or the other.  He had hardly any “trunk" songs. 

And yet, of all the major writers of songs in “The Great American Songbook,” he is the least known.

Here are the doll-related items from our website that we are featuring today:




AUDREY HEPBURN
in the SHORT BLACK DRESS from
"BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S"
(1997)
$79.00


BARBIE PRINT HATBOX CASE
TOYS R US EXCLUSIVE
(2003)
$39.99
SOLD - SORRY


PANTS 'N PINAFORE
(SKIPPER OUTFIT)
(1969)
NRFB
$99.00

SOLD - SORRY


ROCKER DIVA
(1987)
$24.99


FUR COAT & RED FLOWER SHIFT
JAPANESE EXCLUSIVE
(1967)
NRFB
$1,499.00


MISTY COPELAND
(2016)
$55.00


VINYL PANTS WITH POLKADOTS
TUTTI PROTOTYPE
Never Produced
Mint
$125.00



WINTER HOLIDAY
(1959)
Near Mint & Complete
$79.00

SOLD - SORRY


STRIPES AWAY
(1967)
MIB
$499.00


KENYAN BARBIE
(1994)
$18.00
SOLD - SORRY


BLACK COTTON PLAYSUIT
WITH BLUE BELT
& REPRO CHARM BRACELET
(PAK)
(1961)
Near Mint
$32.00

SOLD - SORRY


GIFT CERTIFICATES
IN ANY AMOUNT YOU WANT





After stints as a pianist and a song plugger, Warren started having his own songs published in 1922. 

Ten years later, Harry had a big hit with “I Found a Million Dollar Baby in a Five and Ten Cent Store,” written with lyricist Mort Dixon. 

It’s sung here, to comic effect, by Barbra Streisand in “Funny Lady.”



The Depression hit Broadway hard, and all of the first-rank composers and lyricists headed out to Hollywood, where the weather was good and the checks always cleared. 

Warren was signed by Warner Bros to write songs for a musical called “42nd Street,” and the studio paired him with lyricist Al Dubin.  It was matchmaking at its best.





For the next 6 years, Warren and Dubin created dozens of very modern songs for well over a dozen musicals; hits flowed like running water.

Here are seven Warren-Dubin songs:

Forty Second Street,” hoofed and sung by Ruby Keeler (in color!)



We’re In The Money,” sung by a 21-year-old Ginger Rogers, features a refrain where Ginger sings the lyrics in pig latin.  (Don’t know what pig latin is?  It was a craze a century ago; google it to find out how it orksway.)

 


In 1980, David Merrick and Gower Champion cooked up a Broadway version of “42nd Street” that used Warren-Dubin songs from a variety of movies. 




Here’s “Lullaby of Broadway,” (which originated in “Goldiggers of 1935”) featuring Jerry Orbach.  

Warren was always quite vocal about wanting to be back in New York City, and Dubin told him the lyric was a tribute to Warren and his treasured city of birth. 

They won an Oscar for Best Song for “Lullaby of Broadway”:


You’re Getting to Be a Habit With Me,” vocalized in the 1950’s by Frank Sinatra:



25 years after it was written, “I Only Have Eyes for You” is re-imagined by The Flamingos:

Boulevard of Broken Dreams” was a big hit in 1933, and when Tony Bennett put his spin on it in 1950, it became his first signature song:



The jazz world has always had a soft spot for songs from “The Great American Songbook.” 

Here is Sarah Vaughan and trio in 1959 doing “September in the Rain”:



Around the same time Warren was going out the door of Warner Brothers and heading for 20th Century Fox, he teamed up with lyricist Johnny Mercer (see Day 22 of our Holiday Advent Calendar) to write “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby,” sung here by cabaret chanteuse extraordinaire Nancy LaMott:



The mystery of why Harry Warren was so unknown when he was in his prime can be partly explained by the fact that he loathed publicity. 

He hated performing and personal appearances (and would sometimes have a few drinks in advance to steel himself). 

He was a very shy guy who loved his job and his family (not necessarily in that order). 

At the urging of a colleague, he once hired a publicist. 

When the publicist’s ministrations resulted in a big splashy article about Warren, Warren was aghast and fired the publicist.  He probably thought the guy’s job was to keep his name OUT of the papers.

At 20th Century Fox, Warren was paired with veteran lyricist Mack Gordon.   




Right off the bat, they penned a quartet of monster hits for the Glenn Miller Orchestra.  The first three are from the movie “Sun Valley Serenade”:

With Milton Berle, the Nicholas Brothers, a very young Dorothy Dandridge and the Glenn Miller Orchestra, here is the classic “Chattanooga Choo-Choo”:



Here’s Ethel Ennis with “Serenade in Blue”:



Glenn Miller had a giant hit with “At Last,” and there are fans of that version still.

But the definitive interpretation for many is Etta James’:



From the movie “Orchestra Wives,” Warren brought a full complement of pep and zip to the tune of "I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo”:



In 1943, with hundreds of thousands of soldiers away from home and their wives and sweethearts patiently waiting and hoping for their return, “You’ll Never Know” touched a nerve and became one of the anthem ballads of World War 2. 

It touched a nerve with the Academy, too, and won Warren his second Oscar for Best Song.

 

Here’s Alice Faye introducing “You’ll Never Know”:


The More I See You” is from 1945’s “Diamond Horseshoe.” 

The Dick Haymes' recording never really caught fire, but not so the 1966 version by Chris Montez, which exemplifies mid-60’s soft rock:

In the mid 40’s, Harry Warren left Fox and drove a couple of miles down Motor Avenue and thru the gates of MGM. 

In the next 6 years, he wrote the music for 4 Fred Astaire musicals with a variety of lyricists. 

But of all the work he did at MGM, it was from a musical without Fred Astaire that a giant hit emerged - “On the Achison, Topeka & Santa Fe.”

For that song, Warren won his third Oscar.  (You can hear the song if you go back one day on the Holiday Advent Calendar to Day 22 - Johnny Mercer.)

I’m repeating a Harry Warren story here we told on Day 8 (Harold Arlen) of the Holiday Advent Calendar: 

In 1947, Harry Warren and one of his best friends, songwriter Harold Arlen, were driving with their wives to Palm Springs. 

It was Oscar night, and even though Harry was nominated for “On The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe," after two wins and 8 nominations, sitting in a ballroom with a hundred nervous nominees wasn’t his idea of fun. 

They listened to the live Oscar show on the radio and were delighted when Harry and Johnny Mercer were announced as the winners. 

They arrived in Palm Springs shortly thereafter and, as they were about to get out of the car, Harry turned to Harold (who had but a single Oscar to his credit) and said “Please walk two Oscars behind me.”

Warren decamped to Paramount in 1952, and wrote for the Jerry Lewis-Dean Martin pictures and later the Jerry Lewis solo comedies. 

For 1953’s “The Caddy,” he wrote, with lyricist Jack Brooks, a mega-seller for Dean:


Harry Warren is among the best of the classic movie songwriters. He could write every genre of song and music and do it brilliantly.

Let us leave you with a Warner Bros. short from 1933 which features Harry Warren playing some of his early hit songs.

Given how he hated this sort of thing, he must have had a half dozen drinks to face it.









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