Composer and screenwriter of hit films and musicals in 1920s and 30s
Scores for "Animal Crackers" and "Duck Soup"
Harry Ruby, one half of the famed Kalmar & Ruby songwriting team, was born in New York City on January 27, 1895.
Growing up in New York, he attended public schools and in his early career worked as a pianist and song plugger for the Gus Edwards and Harry Von Tilzer publishing firms (one of his co-workers at Edwards' place was the young Walter Winchell, who was also a song plugger). Ruby also played in vaudeville acts, nickelodeons and cafes throughout New York.
From 1917-1920, Ruby collaborated with songwriters Edgar Leslie, Sam Lewis, Joe Young and George Jessel on the hit songs “What’ll We Do Saturday Night When the Town Goes Dry”, “When Those Sweet Hawaiian Babies Roll Their Eyes”, “Come on Papa”, “Daddy Long Legs” and “And He’d Say Oo-La-La Wee Wee.”
However, it wasn’t until Ruby met Bert Kalmar in 1920 that he had his great succession of hits. Songs from the Kalmar & Ruby catalog include “So Long OO Long”, “Timbuctoo”, “She’s Mine All Mine”, “Where Do They Go When They Row Row Row”, “The Vamp From East Broadway”, “My Sunny Tennessee”, “I Gave You Up Just Before You Threw Me Down”, “Who’s Sorry Now”, “All Alone Monday”, “Happy Go Lucky”, “Up In the Clouds”, “I Wanna Be Loved By You”, “It Was Meant to Be” and “Three Little Words.”
Ruby worked on several Broadway scores including Helen of Troy, NY, The Ramblers, Lucky, The Five O’clock Girl, Good Boy, Animal Crackers and Top Speed.
Moving to Hollywood in 1930, Ruby contributed songs for films including Check and Double Check, The Cuckoos, Horsefeathers and The Kid From Spain. He wrote screenplays as well, including Look for the Silver Lining, Bright LightsDuck Soup and The Kid from Spain.
After Kalmar’s death in 1947, Ruby continued to write but was without a hit. In 1950, Hollywood released the biopic Three Little Words based on the Kalmar & Ruby partnership.
Harry Ruby died in Woodland Hills, California on February 23, 1974.