Speed Langworthy

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Norval Bertrand "Speed" Langworthy (born May 15, 1901, Seward, Nebraska - d. March 22, 1999, Arizona) was a lyricist, newspaper magnate, international relations expert, and advertising account executive.[1]

Early life[edit]

Norval Bertrand "Speed" Langworthy was born in Seward County, Nebraska to Bertrand Scott Langworthy (1877 - 1920) and Eva Maude Norval (1879-1984).[2] His father was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon in 1898. Langworthy's parents married on June 28, 1900. They moved from Nebraska to near Sheridan, Wyoming. Bertrand S. Langworthy took work as a cattle rancher.[3] The family had moved to Buffalo, Wyoming by 1910.[4] The elder Langworthy founded the Montana National Bank (First National Bank) in 1912.[5] By 1920, Langworthy had moved to Billings, Montana.[6] Langworthy was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist[7] and relocated to Battle Creek, Michigan by 1920. Langworthy may have been a patient of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, of the Kellogg's, at Battle Creek Sanitarium.


"We Men Must Grow A Mustache" by Speed Langworthy, 1922.

Speed Langworthy was a songwriter of novelty songs and musical comedy. His signature songs were "We Men Must Grow a Mustache" and "Christofo Columbo (Thought the world was roundo)." Langworthy's other songs did not find as great as success. He wrote "Winning the War at Culver" for D. H. Rathbun in 1920 from Battle Creek, Michigan. Langworthy wrote Youthtime is Springtime in 1923.[8]

Langworthy became a fraternity member of Alpha Zeta in 1924.[9] Langworthy wrote "I'd Love to Have a Sweetheart" for the Beloit fraternity in 1924. He also wrote "The Mother of Sigma Chi" for Sigma Chi.[10]

Langworthy found success with his 1925 hit, "Christofo Columbo (Thought the world was roundo)". The song was recorded by the Max Terr Orchestra by Pathé.[11]

"Dot's vot Looie uses" is a song written by Langworthy in 1925. The song pokes fun at the rise in Americans who still moonshine in defiance of Prohibition.

Langworthy and Jean Anthony Greif wrote "I Can't Live Without Just You" in 1926.[12] Langworthy wrote "By the side of the Omelette Sea" (1926).[13] In 1926, Langworthy wrote Ukollegiate Songs for the Ukulele and Four Chord Uke Song-Book (1926).

In 1927, Langworthy and Leslie O. Reed made a mockery of President Calvin Coolidge through the song, "I'd Like to Fish With the President! The Funny Song That Makes "Cal" Laugh![14]

His other song credits include "Meenie from Meeneesota" (1927), "I'm painting your face in the moon" (1928) and "Me and Mah Razor" (1928). He wrote "Chick, Chick, Chicken!" (1929), "Ah Wed 300 Pounds" (1929), "Shake yo' shoes : with piano" (1929).

Langworthy moved to write musical comedy for the T. S. Denison company in Chicago. He was a permanent fixture for the company's so-called Denison musicals in the late 1920s into the 1930s.

In 1928, he and Harry L. Alford wrote "Denison's mirthquake minstrel : opening chorus."[15]

In 1929, he and Harry L. Alford wrote "Denison's seven-eleven minstrel : opening chorus"[16] and "Denison's minstrel opening choruses and finalés: Seven-eleven."[17] Langworthy, Alford, and Carl Hendrickson also wrote "Revue 5."[18]

He co-wrote with Vernon Richner the Negro spiritual, "Gwine to Heaben Some Day."[19]

In 1930, Langworthy teamed up with Fred Rose (songwriter), Geoffrey F Morgan, Leo Friedman and Harry L Alford to write "A dumb waiter, a musical comedy in two acts.[20]

He co-wrote "A bold front, a musical comedy in two acts" in 1930 with Rose, Morgan, and Alford.[21]

Personal life[edit]

On June 28, 1928, Langworthy married June Lucille Judy.[2] The couple had their first child, Robert, in Chicago, on June 25, 1929.[2] The couple enjoyed their life in a home in Evanston, Illinois. The couple had a daughter, June Judy, on January 4, 1943.[22]

Later years[edit]

Langworthy retired as a lyricist to focus on international relations, advertising, and his newspaper business. He designed a portfolio and had it patented on June 12, 1945.[23] The Langworthys had a taste for fraternities. Langworthy's father had been a fraternity member. Langworthy established his own fraternity, the Buckaroosters, in 1948. Langworthy's fraternity brothers included mostly his childhood friends, business associates, barbershop quartet. The Buckaroosters would perform barbershop quartets and follow the weather reports of the National Weather Service from Norman's Conoco station. The fraternity was still together as recently as 1967.[5]

Langworthy wrote "4 chord "uke" instructor : the world's easiest ukulele song book" in 1950.[24]

Langworthy's works remained in copyright in the postwar era. "Dot's vot Looie uses" was also still in copyright as of 1952.[25] As of Sept. 30, 1953, Langworthy's Four Chord System was still in copyright.[26] "Looking Out the Window" co-written with Vernon Richner was still in copyright as of 1955.[27] "I'd Like to Fish With the President! The Funny Song That Makes 'Cal' Laugh!" was in copyright on June 24, 1955.[28] As of March 31, 1958, "A Bold Front" is in copyright.[29] As of July 28, 1970, Earl Baumgarten and Langworthy's "Wild, Wild Roses" was in copyright.[30]

Langworthy stayed in the Chicago metropolitan area until his retirement from advertising in 1967. He migrated to Tucson, Arizona, where he spent the rest of his life.[5]

The Billings Gazette interviewed Langworthy in 1972.[31] It was reported that Langworthy had briefly returned to Big Timber, Montana with his mother and companion, Mimi Young in early July 1973. The trio spent their summer at the Langworthy cabin.[32]

Speed Langworthy died on March 22, 1999.

Cultural impact[edit]

"Speed Langworthy’s song 'We Men Must Grow a Mustache' comically reflects one public desire for more manly men," writes Mary Katherine Killeen, "The cartoon man depicted on the sheet music cover is especially relevant because he highlights the performative nature of the masculine image. The illustrated character is depicted with his chest so inflated that his posture has hollowed his back, and his overly groomed manner of dress and style satirize the attempts of a Dandy affecting a more masculine image by growing a mustache."[33]


  • Langworthy, William Franklin, The Langworthy Family, Some Descendants of Andrew and Rachel (Hubbard) Langworthy. Tuttle, Rutland, Vermont. 1940.


  1. ^ "The Big Timber Pioneer." No. 49. August 31, 1967. http://big.stparchive.com/Archive/BIG/BIG08311967P01.php
  2. ^ a b c Langworthy 1940;
  3. ^ The Sigma Chi Quarterly: The Official Organ of the Sigma Chi ..., Volume 19. 1900. Retrieved 18 July 2017. https://books.google.com/books?id=OhETAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA336&lpg=PA336&dq=Norval+Bertrand+Langworthy,&source=bl&ots=NfTKQo8diS&sig=WqTHaQnKQCjirMP3idCHY9aGDoQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwid5avXiZLVAhVFdD4KHZ4ABEcQ6AEIODAI#v=onepage&q=Norval%20Bertrand%20Langworthy%2C&f=false
  4. ^ 1910 U. S. Census
  5. ^ a b c (Timber 1967)
  6. ^ 1920 U.S. Census
  7. ^ "The Sabbath Recorder." Volume 75. 1913. Retrieved 18 July 2017. https://books.google.com/books?id=YxdEAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA570&lpg=PA570&dq=%22N.+B.+Langworthy%22&source=bl&ots=-rpBvv2YbE&sig=phX7xBl-ecmPNMay4W_Bt5ZFRhA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiZ1eOpyJLVAhXCOyYKHfldD70Q6AEINzAG#v=onepage&q=%22N.%20B.%20Langworthy%22&f=false
  8. ^ Catalog of Copyright. Internet Archive. 1923. Retrieved 18 July 2017. https://archive.org/stream/catalogofcopyr183libr/catalogofcopyr183libr_djvu.txt
  9. ^ The Music of Sigma Chi. Sam Houston State University. November. 1999. Retrieved 18 July 2017. https://www.shsu.edu/~eng_wpf/sigmachimusic.html
  10. ^ "Sigma Chi Songs." The Sigma Chi Historic Initiative. Retrieved 18 July 2017. https://history.sigmachi.org/music
  11. ^ Pathe 36000 series numerical listings. 78 discography. Retrieved 18 July 2017. http://www.78discography.com/Pathe36000.htm
  12. ^ Catalog of Copyright Entries, 1926 Music For the Year 1926 New Series Vol 21 Part 3. Internet Archives. Retrieved 18 July 2017. https://archive.org/stream/catalogofcopyrig213libr/catalogofcopyrig213libr_djvu.txt
  13. ^ "Speed Longworthy (lyricist)." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2017. Web. 17 July 2017.
  14. ^ I'd Like to Fish With the President! The Funny Song That Makes "Cal" Laugh! Levy Sheet Music Collection. Johns Hopkins University. Retrieved 18 July 2017. http://levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu/catalog/levy:009.040
  15. ^ "Denison's mirthquake minstrel : opening chorus." WorldCat. 2010. Retrieved 17 July 2017. http://www.worldcat.org/title/denisons-mirthquake-minstrel-opening-chorus/oclc/81024706
  16. ^ "Denison's seven-eleven minstrel : opening chorus." WorldCat. 2010. Retrieved 17 July 2017. http://www.worldcat.org/title/denisons-seven-eleven-minstrel-opening-chorus/oclc/79930602
  17. ^ "Denison's minstrel opening choruses and finalés: Seven-eleven." WorldCat. 2010. Retrieved 17 July 2017. http://www.worldcat.org/title/denisons-minstrel-opening-choruses-and-finales-seven-eleven/oclc/20053789
  18. ^ Catalog of Copyright Entries: Part One. Library of Congress. 1929. Accessed 18 July 2017. https://books.google.com/books?id=As5DAAAAIAAJ&pg=RA1-PA19&lpg=RA1-PA19&dq=%22N.+B.+Langworthy%22&source=bl&ots=KKt29ppSth&sig=7LgLSxFi6qEnb0c-wSVFt1ZI0y0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiZ1eOpyJLVAhXCOyYKHfldD70Q6AEIQjAJ
  19. ^ "Gwine to Heaben Some Day/ music by Vernon Richner; words by Speed Langworthy." Sheldon Harris Collection. University of Mississippi Libraries Digital Collection. Retrieved 17 July 2017. http://clio.lib.olemiss.edu/cdm/ref/collection/sharris/id/1318
  20. ^ "A dumb waiter, a musical comedy in two acts." WorldCat. 2010. Retrieved 17 July 2017. http://www.worldcat.org/title/dumb-waiter-a-musical-comedy-in-two-acts/oclc/20590198
  21. ^ "A bold front, a musical comedy in two acts." WorldCat. 2010. Retrieved 17 July 2017. http://www.worldcat.org/title/bold-front-a-musical-comedy-in-two-acts/oclc/20590260
  22. ^ Information provided by Judy Betcher.
  23. ^ U. S. Patent 2378020 A. Google Patents. Retrieved 18 July 2017. http://www.google.com.pg/patents/US2378020
  24. ^ "Speed Langworthy." WorldCat. 2010. Retrieved 17 July. 2017
  25. ^ Catalog of Copyright Records 3rd series, vol.6, part 5c Nos.1 and 2 (Jan.-Dec., 1952). My Heritage. Retrieved 18 July 2017. https://www.myheritage.com/research/record-90100-66655124/catalog-of-copyright-entries
  26. ^ Catalog of Copyright Entries. Third Series: 1953: July–December. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  27. ^ Catalog of Copyright Records 3rd series, vol.9, part 5c Nos.1 and 2 (Jan.-Dec., 1955). My Heritage. Retrieved 18 July 2017. https://www.myheritage.com/research/record-90100-66661056/catalog-of-copyright-entries
  28. ^ Catalog of Copyright Entries: Third Series. 1956. Retrieved 17 July 2017. https://books.google.com/books?id=MTohAQAAIAAJ&pg=RA1-PA36&lpg=RA1-PA36&dq=%22N.+B.+Langworthy%22&source=bl&ots=H3k2RpA7kh&sig=ZQyFRcIXeWIXyx5W3RBGaTWYz1M&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiZ1eOpyJLVAhXCOyYKHfldD70Q6AEIKDAB#v=onepage&q=%22N.%20B.%20Langworthy%22&f=false
  29. ^ "Full text of "Catalog of Copyright Entries 1958 Dramas Etc. Jan-Dec 3D Ser Vol 12 Pts 3-4"". archive.org.
  30. ^ Catalog of Copyright Entries: Third Series. 1971. Retrieved 17 July 2017. https://books.google.com/books?id=Oj0hAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA2473&lpg=PA2473&dq=%22speed+langworthy%22&source=bl&ots=Kc1rRBDN75&sig=dXcXIiqXYYSYF8UUTHaodzM2qqo&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj1urqL_pHVAhWC4D4KHaQoCL44ChDoAQghMAE#v=onepage&q=%22speed%20langworthy%22&f=false
  31. ^ The Billings Gazette. Billings, Montana. October 1, 1972.
  32. ^ "UP THE BOULDER." The Fort. 12 July. 1973.
  33. ^ Killeen, Mary, "Gender Revolution of the Jazz Age: The Source of Disillusionment in the Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway" (2017). All Master's Theses. 669. http://digitalcommons.cwu.edu/etd/669