Nora Bayes

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Nora Bayes
NoraBayesApple1.jpg
Bayes in 1912
Background information
Birth nameRachel Goldberg
Born(1880-10-03)October 3, 1880
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
OriginChicago
DiedMarch 19, 1928(1928-03-19) (aged 47)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
GenresPop
Occupation(s)Singer, actress, comedian
Years active1898–1928
LabelsVictor, Columbia
Associated actsJack Norworth

Nora Bayes (born Rachel Eleanora Goldberg, October 3, 1880 – March 19, 1928) was an American singer, comedian, actress and vaudeville star of the early 20th century.

Early life and career[edit]

Born to Elias David and Rachel (née Miller) Goldberg, in an orthodox Jewish family in Chicago, Illinois. She had a brother, Hugo, and a sister, Lillie (Mrs. Cerf Meyer). Bayes was performing professionally in vaudeville in Chicago by age 18. She toured from San Francisco, California to New York City and became a star both on the vaudeville circuit and the Broadway stage.[1]

In 1908, she married singer-songwriter Jack Norworth. The two toured together and were credited for collaborating on a number of compositions, including the immensely popular "Shine On, Harvest Moon", which the pair debuted in Florenz Ziegfeld's Follies of 1908. Bayes and Norworth divorced in 1913.[2]

Nora Bayes on the cover of a 1917 sheet music of Over There

After America entered World War I, Bayes became involved with morale boosting activities. George M. Cohan asked that she be the first to record a performance of his patriotic song "Over There". Her recording was released in 1917 and became an international hit. She also performed shows for the soldiers. In 1919, she recorded "How Ya Gonna Keep 'em Down on the Farm (After They've Seen Paree)?" for Columbia which became a hit for that year.[3]

Bayes made many phonograph records (some with Norworth) for the Victor and Columbia labels. From 1924 to 1928, her accompanist was pianist Louis Alter. One of her most popular recordings was "Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly?". In her version, she cheekily poked fun at her position as a Jewish performer doing Irish songs by "mistakenly" singing "Has anybody here seen Levi...I mean Kelly."

Bayes established her own theater, The Nora Bayes Theater, on West 44th Street in New York.[4]

Marriages and family[edit]

Bayes married five times. Her first husband was Otto Gressing, and Norworth was her second. Husband number three was a dancer named Harry Clarke, who also performed with her in vaudeville. Husband number four was New York business man Arthur Gordoni. Her fifth and last husband was Benjamin Friedland, a New York City businessman and garage owner.[5][citation needed]

Bayes bore no biological children in any of her marriages. However, she adopted three children. The oldest was Norman Bayes, adopted by Bayes and Gordoni in March 1918. Bayes' second adopted child was a daughter named Lea Nora, adopted on July 25, 1919. Her third adopted child was Peter Oxley Bayes, born March 9, 1921 in London and adopted on October 16, 1923.[6]

Death[edit]

In early 1928, Nora Bayes was diagnosed with cancer, and she died on March 28, 1928 following surgery at Jewish Hospital, Brooklyn, New York.[7] After 18 years in a receiving vault, her body was buried with her fifth husband Benjamin Lester Friedland in the Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York.[8] The burial arrangements for Bayes and Friedland were arranged by Friedland's second wife, who left the graves unmarked. On April 21, 2018, Woodlawn Cemetery will place a grave marker on Nora Bayes's grave[9] at a public event.

On April 11, 2006, under the terms of the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, Nora Bayes was added to the National Recording Registry. The citation stated that she was

Inextricably associated in popular imagination with World War I... a former member of the Ziegfeld Follies, an extremely popular vaudevillian and a Broadway star, she recorded a number of other songs to boost morale during the war and performed extensively for the soldiers.

Pop culture[edit]

Bayes was portrayed by Ann Sheridan in the largely fictionalized 1944 musical biopic Shine On, Harvest Moon,[10] which focused on her relationship with Norworth. She was also portrayed by Frances Langford[11] in the 1942 movie Yankee Doodle Dandy, where she performs George M. Cohan's song "Over There[12]".[citation needed]

The 1980 Garson Kanin novel Smash is about an attempt to make a Broadway musical out of Nora Bayes' life.[13] The novel serves as the inspiration for the 2012 television series Smash, although the subject of the show's fictional musical is not Bayes but Marilyn Monroe.[14]

Selected songs[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Who's Who In Musicals A to Ba". Musicals101.com. Retrieved September 21, 2012.
  2. ^ "Nora Bayes profile". Jwa.org. Retrieved September 21, 2012.
  3. ^ "Top Songs of 1919 ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
  4. ^ The Broadway League. "Nora Bayes Theatre". IBDB. Retrieved September 21, 2012.
  5. ^ "Nora Bayes | Jewish Women's Archive". jwa.org. Retrieved 2017-09-15.
  6. ^ The Fort Wayne Sentinel, October 19, 1923 and Nora Bayes's governess's, Milly Sieber's private notes.
  7. ^ "Noray Bayes Dies After Operation – Noted Comedienne, Believed to Be Recovering, Succumbs in Jewish Hospital, Brooklyn – Favorite Also in London – Star, 48, Famous for Her Infectious Liveliness – Tributes to Her Artistry and Charities". The New York Times. March 20, 1928. p. 27. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  8. ^ "Nora Bayes, Dead 18 Years, Is Buried Here Simultaneouly With Her Fifth Husband". The New York Times. 1946-07-30. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  9. ^ "Nora Bayes Gravemarker Unveiling Celebration - Free Event". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  10. ^ Shine on Harvest Moon (1944), retrieved 2018-04-11
  11. ^ Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), retrieved 2018-04-11
  12. ^ "Over There". The Library of Congress. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  13. ^ Kanin, Garson (1980). Smash. New York: Viking Press
  14. ^ Smash 1.1, "Pilot" credits
  15. ^ a b Parker, Bernard S. (2007). World War I Sheet Music (Volume 1). Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. pp. 261, 393. ISBN 0-7864-2798-1.
  16. ^ Parker, Bernard S. (2007). World War I Sheet Music (Volume 2). Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 776. ISBN 0-7864-2799-X.

Listen to[edit]

External links[edit]