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Gus Kahn

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Composer (Music Score), Featured Music, Songwriter
Born:
November 6, 1886 in Coblentz, Germany
Death:
October 8, 1941 in Beverly Hills, CA
Biography
In the U.S. from age four, German-born lyricist Gus Kahn began his career in his adopted hometown of Chicago. He worked as a song plugger for various publishers and ground out vaudeville material before teaming with the first of his many collaborators, composer Egbert van Alstyne. The team turned out such hits as "Memories" and "Pretty Baby" before Kahn linked up with composer/bandleader Isham Jones. It was this duo's popular ballad "I'll See You in My Dreams" that would serve as the title for the 1951 movie biography of Gus Kahn, which starred Danny Thomas as Gus and Doris Day as his wife and frequent collaborator Grace LeBoy. Shortly after their marriage, the Kahns entered into a brief partnership with entertainer Al Jolson, with Jolson insisting upon co-writing credit on the songs that resulted as a sort of droit du seigneur. If Gus was offended by Jolson's impudence, it certainly didn't effect his relationship with the great singer: several of Kahn's songs, including "Toot, Toot, Tootsie," were prominently featured in Jolson's 1927 film The Jazz Singer. Kahn's list of subsequent collaborators would fill a book in itself: among the more famous were George & Ira Gershwin ("Liza") and Vincent Youmans (the score of the 1933 film Flying Down to Rio). Kahn is most closely associated with composed Walter Donaldson, with whom he wrote such standards as "Love Me or Leave Me," "Yes, Sir, That's My Baby" and "Whoopee." A longtime contributor to the films of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Kahn wrote the lyrics for several MGM musicals, including two Marx Brothers films. Gus Kahn's association with the Marxes spilled over into his private life, culminating in the marriage of Gus' daughter Irene and Groucho's son Arthur. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
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