Sam H. Stept

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Popular theater and early film composer who also worked in vaudeville with Mae West.
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Pop composer Sam H. Stept wrote hits such as "Comes Love" and "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree," from the late '20s through the early '50s, many of which became favorites of jazz vocalists and big bands. Born in 1897, in Odessa, Russia, Stept came to the U.S. at the age of three and grew up in Pittsburgh. Early in his music career, Stept worked for a local publishing house as staff pianist, then in vaudeville as accompanist to such performers as Ann Chandler, Mae West, and Jack Norworth. During the early '20s, Stept was living in Cleveland, OH, where he led a dance band. Within the next few years, he began composing with lyricist Bud Green. Their first hit came in 1928 with vocalist Helen Kane's rendition of "That's My Weakness Now," and the duo would collaborate on tunes through the early '30s. Stept worked with many other lyricists through his career, including Sidney Mitchell and Ned Washington (while songwriting for Hollywood from the mid-'30s to mid-'40s), Lew Brown, Charles Tobias, and Eddie DeLange. Some of his popular tunes for the big screen are "Laughing Irish Eyes" for the 1936 film of the same name, "Sweet Hearts" for Hit Parade (1937), and for the 1942 movie Private Buckaroo the songs "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree" and "Johnny Get Your Gun." Stept also wrote songs for Broadway shows like Yokel Boy (1939) and Michael Todd's Peep Show (1950). Stept's output slowed down in the late '40s, and by the late '50s, he was concentrating fully on his music-publishing business. Some of his other popular titles include "Next Time I Fall in Love" (1948), "Comes Love" (1939), "All My Life" (1936), "Tiny Little Fingerprints" (1935), and "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone" (1931), which was revived by Frank Sinatra 30 years later. Songs penned by Stept have been recorded by many other big names in pop and jazz, including Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Glenn Miller, Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong, as well as by Henry "Red" Allen, Bunny Berigan, Count Basie, Fletcher Henderson, Josephine Baker, and more.