Charles King was not a major recording star by any stretch of the imagination, but as a song-and-dance man on Broadway and in Hollywood, he introduced his share of well-known popular tunes. He had a lengthy career on Broadway and, when the movies learned to talk, it was King who brought that same Broadway style to the screen (it was King's manner and singing style that Gene Kelly sought to emulate in one part of Singin' in the Rain in 1952). Starring with Louise Groody in the Vincent Youmans/Irving Caesar Broadway musical Hit the Deck, King introduced "Sometimes I'm Happy" in 1927, which they recorded for the Victor Talking Machine Company that same year. King was later one of the first leading men from the musical stage brought out to Hollywood with the advent of talking pictures, and quickly rose to stardom as the male lead in the 1929 MGM musical The Broadway Melody, in which he introduced the title song and "You Were Meant for Me. His performance in that film was a delight, embodying all of the lusty, good-natured brashness that audiences of that day associated with Broadway and its song-and-dance men. MGM subsequently featured him in a specialty number in its extravaganza The Hollywood Revue, and he later sang "Happy Days Are Here Again" in the musical Chasing Rainbows, and starred in the movie Oh, Sailor Behave. His rendition of "The Broadway Melody" in the movie of that title is especially good, a brisk live-for-the-camera performance in which the song's co-author Nacio Herb Brown is seen in the backing band playing piano, in the offices of a music publisher. Ironically, considering that he was the first Broadway musical player to achieve stardom on the screen (Al Jolson having already been virtually a household name from records at the time of The Jazz Singer), King's work in movie musicals only lasted about a year.
Share this page