Bob Effros in 1929

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

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Vincent Lopez DRUMMER MAN Johnny Morris from "The Big Broadcast" (1932)

We present a swinging jazz clip from "The Big Broadcast"  starring: Bing Crosby, Cab Calloway, The Mills Brothers,The Boswell Sisters, Burns and Allen, Kate Smith, Donald Novis and "Street Singer" Arthur Tracy.


The outstanding drummer sequence is "Johnny Morris", (Uncle of Joe Morris: stellar jazz guitarist, composer, and  friend).

Durng 1924, Grandpa Bob Effros and Johnny Morris performed together in The Vincent Lopez Orchestra. In 1972, I met Joe Morris in high school.  One weekend, Joe met my Grandpa while "jamming" on guitar with a few friends at our home. Grandpa Bob Effros instantly recognized Joe Morris's talent. He asked the sixteen-year- old, Joe Morris, "Any chance you are related to the hot jazz drummer, Johnny Morris". Joe replied " Yes, Mr. Effros, he was my uncle and played drums with Vincent Lopez Orchestra and many other big bands."

Grandpa Bob Effros was thrilled and proceeded to share memories of  performing with hot drummer (and vocalist) Johnny Morris,  in the Vincent Lopez Orchestra.

Joe Morris and I - discovered as teenagers, the family connection we share in the jazz world!  No doubt, it's a small world, six degrees of separation and all that jazz!


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Joe Franklin and Bob Effros, Rest in Peace

Joe Franklin was one of the few television shows  our entire family enjoyed together.   Joe will always be known as the “King of Nostalgia”.  

And being a nostalgic soul – I am compelled to write about him sooner  than expected.   Last month, Joe Franklin died.  Joe was one of those people you thought would live until at least 102!   After years of considering contacting Mr. Franklin. Last spring,  I  finally  sent an email.  Joe graciously responded immediately.  I asked if I could interview him, when next in New York.  His answer was "of course, of course - stop by my office, anytime."  

Grandpa was a guest on "The Joe Franklin Show" for two broadcasts.  The first time, I was little kid and so excited!  Perhaps five years old,  was viewing the show, with my parents and  sister. I started to cry, seeing Grandpa sitting next to Joe on our console television.

 “Why are you crying?” my parents asked.   I replied “Joe Franklin lives on TV and now Grandpa has moved in with him!”   Everyone laughed and promised Grandpa would call after the show.   Yes, he did.   He wanted to make sure I heard Joe say:
How great he looked (Grandpa was about 20 years older than Joe).   He responded “my oldest granddaughter, said I needed to use Bryl  Creem – and I did!”

The 2nd appearance for Bob Effros on Joe Franklin, was in Fall 1980.  By then, I was in my 20’s and planning my wedding.  Being the firsttgrandchild and firstt to marry, my Grandparent’s were proud to have at least a short amount of guests they could invite.  The list was impressive, after our British cousins was included Ben Selvin, Jimmy Durante and Mae Questal among other well knowns.

Grandpa was never one for formalities.

While watching on live television from my apartment in Santa Monica, CA with a gang of friends:  I hear Grandpa say “ Joe, remember my oldest granddaughter Barbara?  I mentioned her on my earlier appearance  on your show. Well she’s grown up and  am proud to say is getting married in California this December.  My wife and most of our family will be going out to Los Angeles for her wedding.  Joe, we’d love to have you there!  I’ll be sure you get an invitation from her, but put it on your calendar now!”

Truth!  Grandpa invited Joe Franklin on national television to my wedding. Quote is  from VHS tape of live show, September 1980.

Presenting one of Grandpa's favorite stars he worked with: Bing Crosby.  From the Joe Franklin archives:

An excerpt from one of countless Joe Franklin interviews:

Joe was known for asking his guests for a piece of memorabilia.  He had the longest running talk show and interviewed over 10,000 people and claims about 5,000 gifts he has saved. “I’ve  got Bing Crosby’s hat, George Raft’s sweater, Joe DiMaggio’s  yarmulke, Rudolph Valentino’s coffee cup — with coffee from 1926 still in it — Al Jolson’s razor, Eddie Cantor’s black face. It’s all hidden back there in this room.”

How do you find anything in this disarray?
I can’t have a neat office. I really tried, but I throw things down. Albert Einstein, a good friend of mine, told me that neat freaks were sicker than people like me who are slobs. My office is a place where I can lean back and lounge.

Thanks for the Memories!
I know you are in Heaven interviewing God and all your old friends!

1  1), Kilgannon    
2). Photo Credit: Damon Winter, NY Times 1/28/2015

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!