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Frank Crumit

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Frank Crumit September 26, 1889 – September 7, 1943 was an American singer, composer, radio entertainer and vaudeville star He shared his radio programs with his wife, Julia Sanderson, and the two were sometimes called "the ideal couple of the air"1


  • 1 Biography
  • 2 Hit songs
  • 3 References
  • 4 Further reading
  • 5 External links


Crumit was born in Jackson, Ohio, the son of Frank and Mary née Poore Crumit2 He made his first stage appearance at the age of five in a minstrel show1

Attending local schools, Crumit graduated from high school in 1907 After briefly attending an Indiana military academy, he entered Ohio University and later Ohio State University3 His primary purpose for entering Ohio University was to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, Dr C K Crumit, who had been a medical doctor He instead graduated from Ohio University with a degree in electrical engineering This career did not last long, as his passion seemed to be music and the old ballads of the 19th century; his love of music and theater dated back to his early years in the Methodist Church choir and led him to pursue a musical career He studied voice in Cincinnati and then tried out unsuccessfully for opera in New York Citycitation needed

By 1913, in his early 20s, he was performing on the vaudeville stage, first with a trio and then a year later on his own, playing ukulele; he was referred to as "the one-man glee club" in New York City's night spots He appeared in the Broadway musical Betty Be Good in 1918, where he was the first to play the ukulele on Broadway4

He was a success there and went on to Greenwich Village Follies of 1920, which featured his song, "Sweet Lady," written with David B Zoob5 Crumit began making records for American Columbia in 1919, using the acoustic or "horn" method of recording he also occasionally added vocals and banjo to recordings by the Paul Biese Trio on the same label By the end of 1923, Crumit was singing at Victor Talking Machine6

He met Julia Sanderson, then a musical comedy star, in 19221 Sanderson, 38, was sued for divorce in September of that year by her then-husband, US Navy Lieut Bradford Barnette, with Crumit, 33, named as co-respondent Crumit was married to a Connecticut woman at the time7

Crumit and Sanderson were married in 1928, and they retired briefly to a country home near Springfield, Mass, but two years later they began working as a radio team, singing duets and engaging in comedy dialogues1 The couple starred in Blackstone Plantation, which was broadcast on CBS 1929-1930 and on NBC 1930-19348 They performed as the "Singing Sweethearts of the Air"39

In 1930, they continued with a popular quiz show, The Battle of the Sexes, which ran 13 years, Crumit and Sanderson drove from Massachusetts to New York City, a four-hour trip, twice a week to do their radio show Their final broadcast was aired the day before Crumit's death from a heart attack in New York City on September 7, 19431

Hit songsedit

His biggest hits were made during the 1920s and early 1930s; they included popular phonograph records of "Frankie and Johnnie", "Abdul Abulbul Amir", "A Gay Caballero" he even recorded a sequel, "The Return of a Gay Caballero", "The Prune Song", "There's No-one With Endurance Like The Man Who Sells Insurance", "Down In De Canebrake", "I Wish That I'd Been Born in Borneo", "What Kind of a Noise Annoys an Oyster", and "I Learned About Women From Her" Crumit is credited with composing at least 50 songs in his career, including the Ohio State University fight song, "Buckeye Battle Cry" in 1919 for a song contest3 He composed and published "Hills of Ohio" in 1941 His song "Donald the Dub" was used as the theme music to the BBC radio adaptation of P G Wodehouse's Oldest Membercitation needed

His back-to-back recording that is, one song on each side of "The Gay Caballero" and "Abdul Abulbul Amir" Decca W-420010 sold more than four million records1

Crumit's "Hello My Baby" was extended and recorded by Ivor Biggun in the late 1970s, being one of Biggun's rare "clean" songs

His 1929 song "A Tale of the Ticker", came out just a few months before the Wall Street crash in October This song's lyrics shed light on the problems involved in stock market, correctly foreshadowing the devastating event that would happen just weeks following11 The song was featured in the BBC documentary, The Great Crash 192912

Like so many of the performers during the era, Crumit was a fan of the instruments created by the CF Martin & Company and used their tiple, to the point it had to be returned for a new top13


  1. ^ a b c d e f ""Frank Crumit, radio entertainer, passes,"" Los Angeles Times September 8, 1943 p 13 A library card may be required to access this link 
  2. ^ Ohio State Birth Record Microfilm 301032 ref vBp80
  3. ^ a b c Whitcomb, Ian 2013 Ukulele Heroes: The Golden Age Hal Leonard p 43 ISBN 9781458416544 
  4. ^ Tranquada, Jim 2012 The Ukulele: a History University of Hawaii Press p 119 ISBN 978-0-8248-3544-6 
  5. ^ Stanley Green's Encyclopedia of Musical Theatre p409
  6. ^ Victor Matrix B29084 song title Sweet Alice ledger entry dated December 14, 1923, states First Recording by this Artist
  7. ^ "Julia Sanderson Sued for Divorce" Los Angeles Times, September 14, 1922, page I-24
    NOTE: A library card may be required to access this link
  8. ^ Dunning, John 1998 On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio Oxford University Press ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3 P 96
  9. ^ "Ask the Globe", The Boston Globe, December 19, 1997registration required
  10. ^ 1dead link
  11. ^ "Frank Crumit - A Tale Of The Ticker - 1929" YouTube 2011-06-03 Retrieved 2016-03-28 
  12. ^ "BBC2 Documentary 1929 The Great Crash 1929" YouTube 2008-09-15 Retrieved 2016-03-28 
  13. ^ Walsh, Tom 2013 The Martin Ukulele: The Little Instrument That Helped Create a Guitar Giant Hal Leonard p 35 ISBN 978-1-4768-6879-0 

Further readingedit

  • David Lennick, Frank Crumit Returns, Naxos website

External linksedit

  • Frank Crumit biography by Tim Gracyk
  • Collection of Crumit's songs, from the Internet Archive all in open source

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