Tobias Brothers

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These brothers wrote countless enduring Broadway and Tin Pan Alley songs of the 1920s and '30s.
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This family group of songwriters comprised Charles Tobias (b. 15 August 1898, New York, USA, d. 7 July 1970), Harry Tobias (b. 11 September 1895, New York, USA, d. 15 December 1994, St. Louis, Missouri, USA), and Henry Tobias (b. 23 April 1905, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA). Charles Tobias was the most prolific of the trio, writing mainly lyrics, and occasionally music. After singing for publishing houses, on radio, and in vaudeville, he formed his own New York publishing company in 1923, and started writing songs soon afterwards. In the late 20s these included ‘On A Dew-Dew-Dewy Day’ and ‘Miss You’ (with brothers Henry and Harry), which became hits for Dinah Shore, Bing Crosby and Eddy Howard. From 1928 through to the early 40s, Charles wrote sundry songs for Broadway shows, such as Good Boy, Earl Carroll’s Sketch Book (1929 and 1935), Earl Carroll’s Vanities Of 1932, Hellzapoppin, Yokel Boy and Banjo Eyes. His contributions to films continued for another 10 years, until the early 50s. These included Life Begins In College (1937), Private Buckaroo (1942), Shine On, Harvest Moon (1944), Saratoga Trunk (1945), Tomorrow Is Forever (1946), Love And Learn (1947), The Daughter Of Rosie O’Grady (1950), On Moonlight Bay (1951), and About Face (1952). From the shows, films and Tin Pan Alley, came popular songs such as ‘When Your Hair Has Turned To Silver’, ‘Throw Another Log On The Fire’, ‘Don’t Sweetheart Me’, ‘No Can Do’, ‘A Million Miles Away’, ‘Coax Me A Little Bit’, and ‘The Old Lamplighter’. His collaborators included Joe Burke, Murray Mencher, Sam Stept, Peter DeRose, Cliff Friend, Sammy Fain, Nat Simon, Jack Scholl, Lew Brown, Roy Turk and Charles Newman. In 1962, after a period of relative inactivity, Charles Tobias wrote ‘All Over The World’ (with Al Frisch) and ‘Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days Of Summer’ (with Hans Carste), both of which were successful for Nat ‘King’ Cole.

Charles’ older brother Harry, one of America’s most beloved songwriters who died in 1995 aged 99, wrote lyrics for some songs in 1916, including ‘That Girl Of Mine’ and ‘Take Me To Alabam’ (both with Will Dillon). After military service in World War I, he spent several years in the real estate business before returning to songwriting in the late 20s. In 1931, with band leader Gus Arnheim and Jules Lemare, he wrote ‘Goodnight My Love’ (featured in the film Blondie Of The Follies), and ‘Sweet And Lovely’, which became Arnheim’s theme song, and a big hit in the UK for Al Bowlly. In the same year he collaborated Harry Barris and Bing Crosby on ‘At Your Command’, which gave Crosby one of his earliest successes. During the next 20 years, many of Tobias’ lyrics were heard in films such as Gift Of The Gab, Dizzy Dames, The Old Homestead, With Love And Kisses, Swing While You’re Able, It’s A Date, Stormy Weather, You’re A Lucky Fellow, Mr. Smith, Sensations Of 1945, Brazil, and Night Club Girl. His best-known songs included ‘It’s A Lonesome Old Town’, ‘Sail Along Sil’vry Moon’, ‘Wait For Me, Mary’, ‘Miss You’, ‘No Regrets’, ‘Love Is All’, ‘Fascinating You’, ‘Go To Sleep, Little Baby’, ‘Oh Bella Maria’ and ‘Take Me Back To Those Wide Open Spaces’. Among his collaborators were Al Sherman, Roy Ingraham, Pinky Tomlin, Harry Barris, Neil Moret, Percy Wenrich, and his brothers. In the 50s he concentrated more on his music publishing interests.

The youngest of the three brothers, Henry Tobias, had a varied career. He wrote special material for artists such as Sophie Tucker, Eddie Cantor and Jimmy Durante, was a producer and director for summer stock shows, and also worked for CBS Television as a producer and musical director. With his brother Charles he contributed to the Earl Carroll revues in the 30s, and also wrote many other popular numbers with Will Dillon, David Ormont, David Oppenheim, Don Reid, Milton Berle, Little Jack Little, and his two brothers. Among these were ‘Katinka’, ‘Cooking Breakfast For The One I Love’, ‘We Did It Before (And We Can Do It Again)’, ‘The Bowling Song, ‘You Walked Out Of The Picture’, ‘Easter Sunday With You’, and ‘I’ve Written A Letter To Daddy’ (with Larry Vincent and Mo Jaffe), which was featured in the 1979 Janis Joplin biopic The Rose, starring Bette Midler.