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Classiscsonline Home » Composers » K » Kahn, Gus

 Update me on new releases by Kahn

Gus Kahn (11/06/1886 - 10/08/1941)

Gustav Gerson Kahn

Gus Kahn was born in Germany and came as a child to Chicago where he began his musical career writing for vaudeville. A prolific lyricist, Kahn was versatile and had a poet’s turn of phrase. Eddie Cantor and Al Jolson popularized many of his songs: “Pretty Baby” (1915), “Toot, Toot, Tootsie (Goodbye)” (1921), “Yes, Sir, That’s My Baby” (1925) and “Makin’ Whoopee”(1928), the last two written with Walter Donaldson. Kahn and Donaldson produced a string of hits, including the torch song associated with Ruth Etting, “Love Me or Leave Me”(1928), that became a movie of that title starring Doris Day as Etting (1955).

His association with Isham Jones was equally successful and produced “It Had to Be You” (1924) which Johnny Mercer called “the greatest popular song ever written.” It has appeared in over 40 films, including Casablanca, Annie Hall, and When Harry Met Sally. Another huge hit was “I’ll See You in My Dreams” (1924) which became the title of a 1951 movie biography of Kahn, played by Danny Thomas with Doris Day as his wife. Howard Alden dubbed the song on guitar for Sean Penn in 1999’s Sweet and Lowdown.


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