In 1931, while most of America was reeling from the already desperate years of the great depression, Songwriters Gerald Marks and Seymour Simons had reason to celebrate. Their one important songwriting collaboration, “All Of Me,” first saw the light of day. beginning an open-ended dominance of the song category of great standards, the kind of memorable composition that supersedes any boundaries of specific years or eras.
Truly a Towering Song, “All Of Me,” first introduced by the singing star Belle Baker, was recorded by Frank Sinatra four different times, each time with a different interpretation. More recently, country star Willie Nelson, also recorded “All Of Me,” a version which enjoyed a lengthy stay on both the pop and country charts.
Marks was also the writer in 1936 of “Is It True What They Say About Dixie?,” a song that ran for weeks as one of the nation’s top favorites on radio’s “Your Hit Parade,” and was also recorded by Al Jolson and Jimmy Dorsey and his Orchestra.
Born in 1900, Gerald Marks enjoyed his first musical success at age 11. when he persuaded the conductor of the house orchestra in his hometown of Saginaw, Michigan, to include one of his songs, “In Fatima’s Den,” in that evening’s program. The incident made Marks more determined than ever to pursue a career in music.
Over the years, after leaving school at an early age, Marks wrote, with a notable list of collaborators, more than 1000 songs, of which 400 were published. Among the most prominent titles were “Oh Suzanna (Dust Off That Old Pianna),” (introduced by Eddie Cantor), “That’s What I Want For Christmas” and “Night Shall Be Filled With Music.” Marks also composed a 22-song series, “Sing A Song Of Safety,” comprising humorous musical lessons that have been sung in schools the world over and translated into many languages. Marks also received various honors from The University of Charleston, West Virginia, The American Heritage Foundation, The Defense Department, The Chapel of the Four Chaplains, B’nai B’rith and The ASCAP Foundation, among others. Gerald Marks’ long and fruitful life came to an end when he died in 1997.
Seymour Simons, the co-writer with Marks of “All Of Me,” was born in Detroit in 1896. He received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Michigan and served as second lieutenant in the Army Air Force in World War I.
Following discharge from the armed forces, he became well known in the Detroit area as a pianist, com- poser and orchestra leader. During the decade of the ‘20s, he wrote special material for a number of performers, including Nora Bayes and Elsie Janis. He worked in the radio production and booking business from 1928 to 1932 and operated his own orchestra playing for radio stations during the early ‘30s.
His songwriting career ran on a kind of parallel track to all his other activities, resulting in such titles as “Breezin’ Along With The Breeze,” “It’s The Little Things That Count,” “I’m Just Beginning To Care,” “Once In A Lifetime,” “Sweetheart Of My Student Days,” and of course, the biggest of them all, “All Of Me,” bringing him and co-writer Marks a golden pot at the end of their rainbow, during an otherwise extremely difficult time for many Americans. Simons died in 1949, at age 53, of a heart attack in his native Detroit.