Bob Effros in 1929

Bob Effros in 1929
Bob Effros (left) with Vincent Lopez Orchestra

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Solving the Mystery: A Call to Action

My mother and I started this blog last February as a labor of love. When we began this project, we simply wanted to find out more about the man: my Great, Grandfather Bob Effros. This blog has become so much than we ever imagined.

We are inspired by other relatives and descendants of Jazz & Blues musicians from the 1920's and 1930's exploring their family history. Through these new friends and acquaintances, we have found out more about Bob and other talents from "Big Band and Swing" era. 

Relatives of famous artists such as Ben Selvin and The Boswell Sisters have reached out to us and shared knowledge and excitement about these acclaimed musicians. These discussions have lead us to more information about this era and the stars who made the amazing songs, captivating people around the world to this day! 
With this influx of findings, we are starting to solve the mystery of who Bob Effros really was and the exciting life he experienced. This post is a big thank you to the many people who have connected with us, and are helping us along our journey. We still would love to know who made up Bob's entourage and we can use your help. If you have any information about Bob Effros or the people he played music and travelled with in Europe and along the Mississippi River, please contact us.  Our emails are listed below or add to the comment section.

Thanks once again,

Sunday, December 7, 2014

It's a Wonderful Life! Happy Birthday Grandpa Bob Effros!

Robert "Bob" Effros was born December 6th, 1900 in London, England. At the age of three, his Russian Jewish immigrant family moved to Memphis, Tennessee.
Raised in the South strongly influenced the foundations of Jazz trumpet Bob played throughout his illustrious musical career. Bob ran away from home at age eleven and had a job as a “purser” on a Mississippi river boat.  Along the “Great Delta” he learned to play the coronet leading him to his true love; the trumpet. His course of trumpet playing began by following the leads of "King Oliver". 

Between 1917 and 1919, Bob served as a bugler in the United States Army. After the war ended, Bob settled down in Baltimore playing under big band leader, Bea Palmer. Throughout the 20's, Bob played the trumpet as a member of the Vincent Lopez Orchestra. The trumpeter flourished in this environment leading him to compose over a dozen hit songs such as: "Why The Twenties Roared", "Tin Ear" "Cornfed" and "Why Don't You Get Lost?"  Much of Bob's success can be attributed to his trumpet performances with great band leaders such as: Vincent Lopez,  Paul Whiteman, Benny Goodman, Fletcher Henderson, Sam Lanin, Red Nichols, Harry Reser & Ben Selvin.

Bob Effros’ sizzling, trumpet can be heard on over 125 recordings along with the hottest “jazz sideman”. A partial list include: Jimmy & Tommy Dorsey, Xavier Cugat, Al Jolson, Joe Venuti, Joe Tarto, Jimmy Durante, Wash Board Sam, W.C. Handy, Scrappy Lambert, Red Nichols & Fats Waller.   He is also known for being chosen by Paul Whiteman to fill in for the legendary trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke.

Jazz  women singers such as Annette Hanshaw, Bessie Smith, The Boswell Sisters, Mae Questal, Fanny Brice and Ethel Waters  are just a few of the  powerful, enchanting vocalists whom Bob Effros enjoyed performing trumpet.

The Vincent Lopez Orchestra toured Europe extensively. The most infamous trip was in 1925, on the Ship Leviathan.  Effros, Cugat, Tarto and others had to smuggle their instruments on board per Lopez instructions.  The Orchestra toured for two months at the Kit Kat Club, Piccadilly Palace and other hot British Clubs.

Bob performed and had great stories working with Max Fleischer Orchestra for countless zany cartoons like: “Betty Boop”, Pop-Eye, and "Felix the Cat" (Mel Blanc Cartoons).
                                ( Bob Effros Archives, Copyright Protected. Not for reproduction)

Vitaphone label hired Effros as a house musician where he joined a group of up-and-coming bandleaders including the sizzling banjo player, Harry Reser.  Bob performed and composed “Memr’y of This Dance” with the great bandleader/violinist, Ben Selvin.  Ben and Bob are known for their recorded humorous laughter and remained life, long friends.  
By 1929, Bob was leading his own orchestra and churning out hits such as "Sweet and Hot", an ode to Chinese soup. Bob was a staple in the radio studios through the 1930’s and 1940's with The Hit Parade, Camel Hour and Philco Radio Hours.

He settled in and made a home in Queens, NY.  It was here that he met his wife, our Grandma of blessed memory, Selma Sternick. They had two sons, George and Alan Effros.   Bob Effros enjoyed weekends with his six grandchildren.  He lived a healthy, happy life and died in his sleep at age 83.  Music, family and friends made him one of the happiest people one could ever meet.   

Happy Birthday Grandpa and Great Grandpa Bob!  We thought about time for a
an updated biography!
Written by:  Barbara Effros, 1st Granddaughter and
                  Jonathan Schwartz, 1st Great Grandson

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Magicians & Entertainers

A few weeks ago, many viewers tuned into the History Channel to watch a two-part miniseries about the most famous magician the world has ever known: the great Houdini. When I was younger, my mom would tell me stories about the amazing spectacles Houdini performed. As a kid, I was ecstatic to find Harry Houdini's signature in my great grandpa Bob's autograph book.

I wanted to find out how the world's most recognized magician could have come to know my great grandfather. After doing research on the subject, I discovered that Bob Effros and Harry Houdini both belonged to the  St. Cecile Masonic Lodge  #568 (Lodge of the Arts) in New York City. This Masonic Lodge had many famous musicians and entertainers such as Irving Berlin, Vincent Lopez, Al Jolson, and Paul Whiteman.

If you have been a fan of our humble blog for some time, you will remember one of my first posts about great grandpa Bob's magic quarter trick. Bob was fascinated by all forms of entertainment, and he loved magic tricks. According to various members of the Effros family, Bob claimed that he learned several of his magic tricks from the great Houdini himself! One of these tricks included Bob putting a cigarette out on his tongue without being hurt or burned.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Betty Boop "Minnie the Moocher" w/Cab Calloway performance

Not your typical Betty Boop cartoon!   Graveyard scenes, tears, fears with a happpy ending. Grandpa Bob Effros played trumpet in many classic cartoons. Here is great jazz intro featuring Cab Calloway. Click arrow for some mind blowing entertainment!  
Rated PG-13 by yours truly, Barbara & Jonathan.
Jazz influences and big band orchestras music on cartoons of the 1920's and 30's was powerful.  Opening of "Minnie the Moocher" 1932 features fabulous Cab Calloway.  Awesome dance movements and rythm band!   Remind you of anyone of post 1960?

Cab Calloway became one of the most popular entertainers  of the1930's and 40s,  following success of his first hit "Minnie the Moocher". Success did not come easy for Calloway. He became famous through perseverance and hard work. Calloway also went to law school until he met a man who would change his life forever.  Calloway met Louis Armstrong, who tutored him in the art of scat singing (using nonsensical sounds to improvise melodies)" (1)

According to grandpa and other knowledgeable sources we can say: Bob Effros probably did the laughter in the graveyard for this Betty Boop Cartoon.  He played trumpet on countless Max Fleischer cartoons including Betty Boop,  Popeye, Donald Duck.  As children, we always told our friends " listen to our grandpa on these cartoons!"    As young ones we knew little about his impressive career in Jazz Big Bands.

A wonderful personal memory: meeting Mae Questel, Grandpa's friend and better known as the voice of of over 150 "Betty Boop" cartoons.  At 11 years old, I was skeptical of all the famous people Grandpa claimed to know. (Remember, this blog is a journey of research, joy and love, delving into Bob Effros' jazz music, life and legacy).

I met Mae Questel in Forrest Hills, New York at my grandparents apartment.  She told us  "when she was 17, she won a local contest for a girl that sounded and resembled famous singer Helen Kane, whom resembled Max Fleisher's sexy, witty cartoon character."  According to IMDB, "Mae Questel came from an Orthodox Jewish family whom deeply disapproved of  her having an entertainment career and had their wills drawn up accordingly."  In the last years of her life, she starred in a Woody Allen movie - she showed them show biz can be a real career!
Mae Questel
I was only convinced by Mae of her identity, when she did her "Betty Boop" voices along with hilarious sounds imitating voices of "Popeye", "Olive Oyl" and the quacking voice of "Donald Duck". Grandpa Bob was also infamous for his celebrity impressions. The two of them completely delighted us grandchildren - whom adored these cartoons, and of course remain major fans.  Any writing of "Betty Boop",  credit must be given to Mae Questel's influences, not only to Helen Kane (photos below) but Esther Jones, known as "Baby Esther" a wonderful early African American Jazz singer.
Helen Kane  Source: Tumblr
Helen Kane

Note:"there is quite a bit of evidence showing that Kane stole her schtick from a Black woman named Esther Jones who went by the stage name Baby Esther. (2)

Jones, an African American singer in the late ’20′s, worked regularly at the Cotton Club in Harlem. Jones was known for singing in a distinctive baby voice. Her signature song was” I Wanna Be Loved By You” where she scatted the lines "Boop oop a doop.”

Esther Jones aka "Baby Esther"
Credits with more on Max Fleischer and other cartoons  in future posts.
"Minnie the Moocher" was banned due to early censorship laws. People felt that the content of the video was too mature be shown as a cartoon. To the best of our knowledge this cartoon and image are public domain.  If not, please advise, and they will respectfully be removed.

Grandpa Bob knew all these wonderful women through his  performing. Wish I could recall every detail of these fabulous female jazz singers!


Monday, August 4, 2014

"Why Don't You Get Lost?" Bob Effros/Phil Wall w/ "Calloway's Hot Shots"

A personal family favorite composed by Grandpa Bob Effros and friend, Phil Wall.

The group is most likely "Roane's Pennsylvanians" under the pseudonym of "Calloway's Hot Shots". Cab Calloway and numerous others bands recorded this humerous, satiricle break up song.

Band spin off's and credits are often difficult to authenticate. Liner notes and orchestra credits were minimal at best. Roane's Pennslyvannnian's were a group of Irish family brothers whom did not seem to get the recognition they were due.

Enjoy the lyrics! A  jealous, silly break up love song that we can all relate to at one time or another. A genuine sense of our Grandpa's humor!

The credits I have found for this version are:

Vocals by Cliff Nazarro (a popular comedian of the 20's and 30's) The orchestra includes: Harry Berman, Louis Martino, Terry Page, Dyke Bittenbender, Johnny Nadlinger, Joe Allard, Paul Savage and Herbert Lee. (Corrections welcome). Thank you Kevin Mueller for posting.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Call it intituition. Call it a familiar feeling. Call it whatever you want to call it. I may have never met my great grandfather but I have come to a strong understanding that I know the man he was. Bob Effros was a hard worker who put his family above everything. He influences me to be the man of principles that I am today.

My great grandfather not only worked to live, he lived to work. Playing music was not just a job for him, but also an outlet for expression. Jazz clubs in the 1930's and '40s allowed him to earn a living doing what he loved. While these clubs did well all year round, they were particularly popular in the summertime. It is for that reason that Bob loved the summer and considered it his favorite season. That same feeling of joy and excitement has been passed down to my generation and contributes to my love of the summer as well.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

" Thank You Father " Ben Selvin Orchestra with Bob Effros, Jack Teagarden, Jimmy Dorsey,Smith Ballew

 New releases of Ben Selvin's Orchestra's are a tribute to the Jazz age of  the 1920's and 1930's. 
SOUNDS FROM THE ROARING TWENTIES: BEN SELVIN AND HIS ORCHESTRA INCLUDING: Benny Goodman, Bunny Berrigan,Bob Effros, Mannie Klein and many wonderful others.

Grandpa performed with Ben Selvin's Orchestra multiple orchestras, from 1928 - 1935.  I was lucky to meet Ben Selvin. Bob and Ben were both child immigrants with Jewish Russian parents whom left Russia during the 1890's. No coincidence that there friendship lasted a life time!

Please enjoy "THANKS YOUR FATHER" with Jack Teagarden, Jimmy Dorsey, Bob Effros, Louis Martin, Joe Dubin, reeds; Al Duffy or Mac Ceppos. violin; Rube Bloom, piano; Carl Kress, banjo; Norman McPherson or Hank Stern, tuba; Stan King, drums, kazoo; Smith Ballew, vocal. New York, January 27, 1930.

A sweet version of "Thank You Father" sung by the fabulous Helen Kane - with lyrics below and musicians: Ray Henderson, Lew Brown , Buddy De Sylva 1930 as rec by Helen Kane with Leonard Joy & his Band April 12th 1930 New York

When I think that you're the one boy I adore,
Gratitude inflates my bosom more and more!
When I see your style and grace,
Analyse your smiling face,
Then I know how much I must be thankful for!
 Thank your father,Thank your mother,
Thank them both for meeting up with one another.
Thank the horse that pulled the buggy that night,
Thank your ma and pa for feeling just right!
Thank the June night,
Thank the moonlight
That caressed them from up above;
And thank goodness for their marriage
And for the baby carriage,Or I'd have no-one to love! Oh, thank your father,
Thank them both for meeting up with one another.
Thank the horse that pulled the buggy that night
Thank your ma and pa for feelin' just right!
Thank the June night,
Thank the moonlightThat caressed them from above;
And thank goodness for their marriage
And for the baby carriage,Or I'd have no-one to love! Thanks to:( Peter Akers - April 2009, Contributer

WISHING ALL OUR FATHERS HERE, AND PASSED AWAY: Thank you for wonderful memories!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

W.C. Handy: "Father of the Blues" performing his own "Memphis Blues"

"Life is something like this trumpet. If you don't put anything in it you don't get anything out. And that's the truth".  William C. Handy

Grandpa Bob adored W.C Handy: Memphis friend and fellow trumpeter known as "Father of the Blues".

At 11 years old, I composed my first letter to a US President.  What was the pressing issue? Being a young stamp collector, grandpa urged me to write the US Government in support of a Postage stamp honoring the well deserved W.C Handy  issued May 17, 1969.

Thanks to  Dorian Henry  for this  "Memphis Blues"   Lyrics below:

"There's nothing like the Handy Band that played the Memphis Blues so grand.

Oh play them Blues.

That melancholy strain, that ever haunting refrain

Is like a sweet old sorrow song.

Here comes the very part that wraps a spell around my heart.

It sets me wild to hear that loving tune a gain,

The Memphis Blues".

Saturday, April 26, 2014

2 Wonderful Pictures for Saturday

                                                                                Tomorrow is Ella Fitzgerald's birthday. To celebrate this wonderful woman's career is a photo of her with Marilyn Monroe. The Mocambo club refused to book Ella Fitzgerald because of her race, until Marilyn Monroe said she'd reserve a front row.

                                                                                       Louis Armstrong plays trumpet for his wife, Lucille, in front of the Great Sphinx of the Pyramids of Giza, Egypt.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

You Cannot Stop The Good Song From Being Played

In the early 1900's,  jazz music was not always played so freely.  For quite some time, black and white jazz musicians were forbidden to play together in public. After playing on Mississippi Steam Boats, Louis Armstrong and Bix Beiderbecke began playing late night, after hours shows in Chicago in the 1920's. This was a big deal because Bix was a white man. But, you cannot stop the good song from being played! As we discovered through our  research, Great Grandpa, Bob recorded with Armstrong and Beiderbecke during this period.

Photo credits: Louis Armstrong "Satchmo" and Bix Beiderbecke - approx. 1921
(photographer credits to follow)

As we all know, Louis Armstrong is an American Jazz legend.  In our  family he is considered a friend. His warmth and kindness towards Jewish people is remembered and outstretched to this very day.  I  believe that jamming with men like Great Grandpa Bob and Bix Beiderbecke cemented Armstrong's belief the music should not be segregated.   Stay posted for music recorded by these great trumpeters!

P.S. Fun fact: Louis Armstrong  spent  part of his childhood with  a  Jewish family, the Karnofsky's of  New Orleans.  Armstrong's Jewish influences and music like "Go Down Moses" remains a key song at  Passover Seder meals.  

 Hentoff, Nat. "How Jazz Helped Hasten The Civil Rights Moment." The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2014.
"Louis Armstrong." 2014. The Biography Channel website. Apr 06 2014, 09:13

Monday, March 31, 2014

Integration, Segregation & Jazz Part 1

My Grandpa Bob always shared stories about becoming close friends with Louis Armstrong and W.C. Handy on the Mississippi River Boats.  During the early 20's, Black and White Musicians were segregated.

Socially they often jammed together when the river boats docked in cities along the "Great River". Eventually, (and more will be shared), the talented Jazz and Dixieland musicians were allowed to perform together - BUT only for White audiences.

We have been researching Grandpa's chronology. We know he started  performing in his teen years with Armstrong, Handy and Bix Beiderbecke and countless other talented Jazz musicians. They met on Mississippi river steamboats, traveled trains to New York, Chicago, Hollywood and Culver City -(our current home town).

 By the early 20's Grandpa Bob, Louis and Bix played  together and separately with Big Band Orchestras of Vincent Lopez , George Gershwin, Paul Whiteman, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway and Benny Goodman. (1)

  As Louis Armstrong said " many people don't realize that the Mississippi River does not flow up to Chicago!"  

(Image 1879-Public Domain)
Music from 20's and 30's never ceases to amaze me!  We are discovering  family members of  Jazz musicians and performers also archiving and sharing this brilliant, historical and upbeat period.
Jazz Radio, Concerts and Journalists are doing a magnificient job keeping Jazz music alive!  Thank you!


1."Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong"  Terry Teachout, Author

2. The New York Times, Feb 15, 1987 "The Whiteman Concert of 1924 Lives On" John Wilson, Author

3. "Bix Beiderbecke - Wikipedia

4."Bix, Man & Legend" Sudhalter and Evan, Authors

5."Vincent Lopez Speaking" Autobiography, Vincent Lopez, 1961

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Effros the Prankster

Below is an excerpt from Vincent Lopez's autobiography. In Lopez Speaking: An autobiography, the following passage entails one of the infamous pranks Bob Effros would often play on his pals. In this prank, Xavier Cugat the famous violinist, is the victim of one of Bob's practical jokes.

       "Cugie had developed quite a crush on a showgirl who often came into the Grill with her escort. Bob Effros, our first trumpeter, who knew her, persuaded her to give Cugie the ever-lovin' eye one evening. Then he fashioned a note which a waiter delivered to Cugat as the girl was leaving, giving a fictitious name and apartment number and saying she'd love to have him play the violin for her the next afternoon!
Cugie just couldn't keep the good news to himself.
"I know that girl quite well," Bob Effros confided. "The way to make a hit with her is bring her a strawberry shortcake. She's crazy about them."
So Cugat took both his violin and a big Lindy cake with him the following afternoon. The apartment the boys had picked for their joke was two flights up a dark stairway, on Tenth Avenue, in Hell's Kitchen! As Cugie stumbled up the last few steps, trying to see in the gloom, he suddenly heard a very angry masculine voice shout, "So you're the crumb who's been visitin' my wife I'm woikin!"
With that, prankster Effros smashed a couple of electric light bulbs, and the echoes in the narrow hall sounded like revolver shots. Cugat took the stairs three at a time as he reversed direction. He sprinted a full block before he realized that the footfalls and shouts following him belonged to Bob Effros and his practical joke pals."

Monday, March 3, 2014

Hit Radio 1920's "Singing in the Rain"

Bob Effros,trumpeter - Anoomi - Online Music Playlists   (credit)

"Singing in the Rain"  widely disputed whom actual composed.  Grandpa performed the
great hit with the The Philco Orchestra and continues to be a hit through the decades!

"Let A Little Pleasure Interfere With Business from The Philco Hour, 1931 ... songs mentions Billy Artz as director and Bob Effros as one of the trumpet players"

Beautiful album cover of "Boswell Sisters"  - performed and played often with Bob Effros The Boswell Sisters (Martha, Connie & Helvetia) Accompanied by:

(a) Victor Young And The Brunswick Orchestra. Personnel according to the CD-booklet
Bunny Berigan, Bob Effros (tp), Tommy Dorsey (tb), Jimmy Dorsey (cl, as),. The trumpeter who plays solos is Mannie Klein.
Credit:  Boswell

Monday, February 17, 2014


I have always wanted to meet my Great-Grandfather. From the time I was born, I became fascinated with the man playing the trumpet in multiple pictures throughout my home. As I got older, I began to research more into the music that made Bob Effros the man he was. I can understand more about who my great grandfather was through the recordings he made within his lifetime.

Several years ago, I was visited by my Great-Grandfather in a dream. He had come to visit me in my sleep to show me a magic trick with quarters. The man appeared in a pin-stripe corduroy brown suit with a quarter in his palm. My Great Grandpa showed me how to make a two faced quarter look as though it only has one side. I'll explain the trick aspect of it all at a later point in this blog. 

When I awoke, I grabbed a quarter from my bedside and ran into the kitchen. The last thing I wanted was to forget how to do the magic trick. I approached my mother and immediately showed her what Grandpa Bob had taught me in my dream. My mother's face filled with joy and surprise as she told me that was the same magic trick Bob had showed her when she was a kid. 

I do not share this story to promote a belief in ghosts or the supernatural. This not a depiction of some special phenomena or spirituality. Instead, I share this story because it sparked a connection between my Great-Grandfather and I. The magic lives on throughout his music and that is why we want to share his legacy with the world.

Future Posts : Famous Musicians and Bands - music links, stories & interviews

Saturday, February 15, 2014

"The Memory of this Dance"
Composers: Bob Effros - Ben Selvin

Anyone Can See With Half An Eye That I'm Crazy Over You"
Orchestra   Alto Saxophone – Jimmy Dorsey – Sam Lanin & His Famous Players*Trumpet – Bob Effros
from the Bing Crosby Collection

Sunday, February 9, 2014

This blog was put together by Barbara Effros, (the granddaughter of Bob Effros), and myself, Bob's great grandson. As a family, we have always been interested in Bob's music. Whether it be his trumpet playing on the beginning and end of the "Looney Tunes" credits or his work with Bing Crosby, Bob's music continues to remain timeless. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.                                                                                                      - Jonathan Schwartz *Above is a song Bob recorded as a part of the Vincent Lopez Orchestra in 1926

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Brief Biography of Bob Effros

Robert "Bob" Effros was born December 6th, 1900 in London, England. At the age of three, his family moved to Memphis, Tennessee. Moving to the South was important to the foundations of Jazz trumpet playing that would influence Bob throughout his illustrious career as a musician. Bob ran away from home at age eleven and getting job on a Mississippi river boat. On the river boat he learned to play the coronet leading him to his true love; the trumpet. His course of trumpet playing began by following the leads of "King Oliver".

Between 1917 and 1919, Bob served as a bugler in the United States Army. After the war ended, Bob settled down in Baltimore playing under big band leader Bea Palmer.Throughout the 20's, Bob played the trumpet as a member of the Vincent Lopez Orchestra. The trumpeter flourished in this environment which lead him to write several hit songs such as: "Why The Twenties Roared", "Tin Ear" "Cornfed" and "Why Don't You Get Lost?" Much of Bob's success can be attributed to the songwriting he did for recording artists such as Fletcher Henderson, Red Nichols & Ben Selvin. Bob returned to England to play shows with beautiful and popular singer, Annette Hanshaw.

The Vincent Lopez Orchestra toured Europe extensively. The most infamous trip being in 1925 on the Ship Leviathan. By 1929, Bob decided he wanted to stay in the States for the remainder of his career to start a family. The Vitaphone label hired Effros as a house musician where he joined a group of up-and-coming performers including banjo player Harry Reser. Within a ten year period Bob Effros appeared on more than 125 different recordings. By 1929, Bob was leading his own orchestra and churning out hits such as "Sweet and Hot", an ode to Chinese soup. Bob was a staple in the studios through the 40's and made a home for himself in Queens, NY. It was here that he met his wife Selma Sternick. They had two sons, George and Alan Effros.