Gave us the enduring standard "Ain't She Sweet"
One of the top songwriters of the 1920s and 1930s.
Composer Milton Ager was born the sixth of nine children on October 6, 1893, in Chicago, IL. In 1900, his sister bought a piano and Ager began his self-education in music. In 1907, he attended McKinley High School in New York City, but abandoned formal education 3 years later.
He began his career as a movie house intermission pianist for the silent movie theaters and went on to become a vaudevillian. He traveled to Chicago and began a career in song plugging and accompaniment for the Orpheum Vaudeville Circuit. Returning to New York City in 1913, he worked for the publishing company Waterson, Berlin, and Snyder until WW1 when he joined the US Army’s Morale Division in Fort Greenleaf, Georgia.
After the war, Ager went back to songwriting and in 1921 had his first success with “Nobody’s Baby”. That was followed the next year with “Who Cares”. In 1922 he formed his own publishing house called Ager, Yellen, and Bornstein.
Between 1922 to 1930 he wrote "Mama Goes Where Papa Goes", and a hit song for Sophie Tucker, “The Last of the Red Hot Mamas!”. Other songs in this period include “Lovin’ Sam”, “Hard-Hearted Hannah”, “I Wonder What’s Become of Sally”, “Ain’t She Sweet?” and the classic “Happy Days Are Here Again”. “Happy Days are Here Again” would later become the theme song for President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1932 inauguration and has remained the theme song for the Democratic Party ever since.
In 1930, Ager moved to Hollywood under a studio contract. He contributed to the film scores of Honky Tonk, King of Jazz and Chasing Rainbows. Songs in these pictures include “Happy Feet”, “A Bench in the Park” and “If I Didn’t Care”.
His chief collaborators on stage, film, and popular songs include George Meyer, Grant Clarke, Benny Davis, Lester Santly, Joe Young, Jack Yellen, Jean Schwartz, Stanley Adams and Joe McCarthy.
Milton Ager died in Los Angeles, California on May 6, 1979.