Inquiries into the early years of SJI

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Does anyone know of Rita Arnold?

I recently received a letter from Walter J. Morrison III informing me that he owns quite a few pieces of sheet music that were handwritten by Porter Grainger. Many of these were made specifically for a Rita Arnold, who Mr. Morrison believes was a vaudeville/broadway singer. He purchased the music . . . wait, I'll let Mr. Morrison tell the story:

"I don't know much about Rita Arnold. I bought from the estate of - if I remember correctly - her granddaughter, many many years ago, a box of sheet music. It had to have 400-500 pieces. Most I traded off. These were period music sheets, marked with addresses in the NYC Tin Pan Alley, of which I'm sure you're familiar. I was told by the auctioneer that Rita Arnold had been a Broadway/vaudeville actress and singer, but I never pursued it because at the time I didn't know what was in the box.
"In the pieces I've kept, I have a typewritten lyric sheet for the song 'Fit to be tied,' the title of which was edited down from "I'm fit to be tied" (edit is on the page), and is copy-written 1934 . . . I also have typewritten lyrics for a song called 'Try gettin a good nights sleep.'

"In original hand written music, I have the following titles,
HOT MAMA, - SIGNED
HE JUST DONT APPEAL - SIGNED
COME UP AND SEE ME
MAKE ME LOVE YOU - SIGNED
MECHANICAL MAN
NO MANS MAMA
TIRED BUSINESS MAN
GOOD NIGHTS SLEEP
BABY HAVE A DREAM ON ME
POOR LITTLE GIGOLETTE
CIGARETTES, CIGARS
SUGAR HILL JAMBOREE
HOLLYWOOD
NEVER MARRY A TIRED BUSINESS MAN
TIRED O SAVIN - SIGNED
DOWN BY THE VINEGAR WORKS


"The ones that are signed, state they are by Porter Grainger. The ones that are not signed are definitely written by the same hand, but I assume they may not be by him but are adaptations of songs for Rita Arnold, done by him."

It seems that Mr. Grainger wrote some music specifically for Ms. Arnold, and hence the hand written pages. I have searched for information about Rita Arnold, but nothing has turned up. If anyone out there has knowledge of Ms. Arnold, please drop a line. Meanwhile, Walter J. Morrison III was kind enough to send me scans of several pages of this sheet music (one of which you see here) as written by Porter Grainger.

3 comments:

Ahava Shira said...

Hi there,

I am curious if you have found out anything more about Rita Arnold. It turns out that I have a later aunt who used that name for her words and music. I have several song sheets with her name that were copywrighted back in the 1950's. I am looking for more information about her music, and whether any of it was actually published and made into songs by others.

Thanks for being there to ask about this.

Ahava

Robert W. Harwood said...

Thanks for the note, Ahava. I am too busy to respond right now, but will do so in a day or two. Although, to tell you the truth, I have very little beyond what I wrote here.

Robert W. Harwood said...

Ahava, if you drop me a line at rwharwood@ymail.com, I can send you something that might (or might not) be of help. It sounds like you don't have much more information about the mysterious Rita Arnold than you shared here?

Bob