Gus Van and Joe Schenck were a comedy-musical team featured in several Broadway musicals, vaudeville sketches and radio programs beginning in the early 1910’s through the early 1930’s.
Both Van and Schenk were born in the Ridgewood section of Brooklyn, New York, Van in 1891 and Schenk in 1887, where they attended the same schools. The partnership began in 1905 when Schenck was hired as the piano accompanist for Van. As stated in the Van’s New York Times 1968 obituary, "At first, Mr. Schenck functioned solely as a pianist because his voice was changing. But later, as it settled into a tenor, it blended well with Mr. Van's, and in 1910 they became a vocal team."
Performing in vaudeville sketches, the team had their big break in 1916 when they were asked to substitute in a Ziegfeld Follies production and soon the became a featured act in the Follies, beginning with The Century Girl. In the same year, the team began recording and their first record for Victor, “Yaddie Kaddie Kiddie Kaddie Koo” shot to #6, on the pop charts in 1917. Soon after, ‘For Me and My Gal’ became the duo’s first #1 hit in 1917.
Over the next decade the duo had 20 top ten hits including ‘Ain’t We Got Fun?’ (#1, 1922), “In the Land O’ Yamo Yamo” (#2, 1918), “Mandy” (#2, 1919), “After You Get What You Want, You Don’t Want It” (#2, 1920), ‘Carolina in the Morning’ (#1, 1923), and “You Can Have Him, I Don’t Want Hit” (#5, 1923).
The team made their radio debut in 1923 and in 1930 they starred in the feature film, They Learned About Women. That same year, Schenck died prematurely of a heart attack in Detroit.
Gus Van continued to work as a solo artist, appearing in vaudeville and performing on radio, but never achieved the same success as he had with Schenck. Gus Van died on March 12, 1968 at the age of 80.