Lyricist Bert Kalmar, one half of the legendary Kalmar & Ruby songwriting team, was born in New York City on February 16, 1884. As a child growing up in Manhattan, Kalmar performed as a magician in tent shows and then as a comedian in vaudeville acts.
Kalmar met Harry Ruby at a publisher’s house on Tin Pan Alley. The two began a collaboration that would produce some of the most enduring standards, including “Three Little Words”, “So Long, OO-Long”, “She’s Mine, All Mine”, “Who’s Sorry Now?”, “Thinking of You”, “Up in the Clouds”, “I Wanna Be Loved by You”, “Watching Clouds Roll By”, “My Sunny Tennessee” (the teams first hit song), “I Love You So Much”, “Everyone Say’s I Love You”, “The Egg and Eye” and “A Kiss to Build a Dream On”.
Kalmar had success on Broadway with his scores for Helen of Troy, N.Y., the Ramblers, Lucky, The Five O’Clock Girl, Good Boy, Animal Crackers, Top Speed and High Kickers.
The team moved to Hollywood in 1930 and contributed songs to films including Check and Double Check, The Cuckoos, Horsefeathers and The Kid from Spain. Kalmar also worked as a writer on screenplays for the films Look for the Silver Lining, Bright Lights and Duck Soup.
While the Kalmar & Ruby team wrote together until Kalmar’s death in 1947, Kalmar also worked with composers Ted Snyder, Oscar Hammerstein II, Fred Ahlert, Harry Akst, Con Conrad, Herbert Stothart, Harry Tierney, Pete Wendling and Edgar Leslie. Other highlights from the Kalmar catalog include “All the Quakers Are Shoulder Shakers”, “Since Maggie Dooley Learned the Hooley Hooley”, “He Sits Around”, “Take your Girlie to the Movies”, “The Sheik of Avenue B”, “The Same Old Moon”, “The Vamp From East Broadway”, “It Was Meant to Be” and “All Alone Monday”.
Bert Kalmar died in Los Angeles on September 18, 1947.