Composer Harry Ruby enjoyed a long career songwriting for Broadway and Hollywood musicals, almost always in collaboration with lyricist Bert Kalmar. Born in N.Y.C. in 1895, he got his start working as a staff pianist for various music publishers, then toured vaudeville accompanying groups such as the Bootblack Trio and the Messenger Boys Trio. Ruby and Kalmar had worked together before, but in 1920 they formed a songwriting duo that would last until Kalmar's death in the late '40s. The team produced a large number of stage and movie hits, such as "I Wanna Be Loved by You," "Who's Sorry Now?" "Three Little Words," "A Kiss to Build a Dream On," and many more. After ten years of coming up with hits for such Broadway productions as Ladies First (1918), Helen of Troy, New York (1923), The Ramblers (1926), and Good Boy (1928), the duo moved out to Hollywood and wrote hits for over ten motion pictures, including the Amos N Andy film Check and Double Check (1930) and the Marx Brothers' features Animal Crackers (1930) and Duck Soup (1933). Ruby wrote much less after Kalmar's death in 1947, but did have a few more hits, as with the Hit Parade chart-topper "Maybe It's Because" (1949) and 1951's "A Kiss to Build a Dream On." In 1950, Red Skelton and Fred Astaire portrayed Ruby and Kalmar in a movie about their lives and music called Three Little Words. A few of the other songwriters Ruby worked with over the course of his career were Edgar Leslie, Rube Bloom, and Fred E. Ahlert.
Share this page