Top vaudeville lyricist in 1920s and 30s
Wrote "Wedding Bells Are Breaking Up That Old Gang Of Mine"
Irving Kahal was born in Houtzdale, Pennsylvania on March 5, 1903. By the mid-1920’s, he was performing in New York vaudeville sketches written by Gus Edwards when he met composer Sammy Fain. That meeting began one of the most prolific collaborations from Tin Pan Alley and lasted until Kahal's death in 1942. Kahal and Fain wrote in a popularized jazz idiom, and their first song, on which Francis Wheeler also collaborated on the words, was "Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella" in 1927, which was popularized via recordings by Roger Wolfe Kahn and Sam Lanin. Other early songs by Fain and Kahal included "I Left My Sugar Standing in the Rain" and "Wedding Bells are Breaking Up That Old Gang of Mine”. That song became a perennial favorite, becoming a hit in the 1920’s with recording artist Gene Austin, the 1940’s with a recording by Steve Gibson and in the 1950s with a recording by the Four Aces.
In 1930, Paramount Pictures signed Kahal and Fain to write a song for the Maurice Chevalier movie The Big Pond. They traveled to Los Angeles, composed "You Brought a New Kind of Love To Me" (written with Pierre Norman), and adopted that city as their base of operations. Chevalier, Paul Whiteman, and the High Hatters all made popular recordings of that song in 1930, and Helen Ward and Frank Sinatra successfully revised it on respective recordings in the 1950s.
For the remainder of their partnership, Kahal and Fain worked for several movie studios, mainly focused on providing one or two songs to be included in a variety of films. Some of their better-remembered movie tunes include: "When I Take My Sugar to Tea" (from the 1931 Marx Brothers movie Monkey Business (the Boswell Sisters had a hit with it) and "By a Waterfall" from Footlight Parade, 1933 (sung by Dick Powell in the movie and recorded by Guy Lombardo, Leo Reisman, and Rudy Vallee).
The duo also wrote for Broadway, with their greatest successes being Everybody’s Welcome (1931). HelIzapoppin (1938), and George White's Scandals of 1939. A 1938 Broadway flop titled Right This Way included two of Fain and Kahal's best songs: "I Can Dream, Can't l?" and “I’ll Be Seeing You." The former was a hit for Tommy Dorsey in 1938 and an even bigger hit for the Andrews Sisters in 1950. The latter did not become popular until 1944, two years after Kahals death when Bing Crosby and Tommy Dorsey recorded the song, the lyrics perfectly expressing the feelings and emotions of lovers parted by World War II. To the music of Dana Suesse, Kahal and Billy Rose wrote "The Night is Young and You're So Beautiful" (1936). Jan Garber, George Hall and Wayne King all recorded it in 1937, and Ray Anthony made it a hit again in 1951.
Kahal died in New York City on February 7, 1942.