King of Jazz (1930)


King of Jazz is a 1930 motion picture starring Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra. The film’s title was taken from Whiteman’s controversial, self-conferred appellation. The film was shot entirely in the early two-color Technicolor process and was produced by Carl Laemmle for Universal Pictures. The movie featured several songs sung on camera by the Rhythm Boys (Bing Crosby, Al Rinker, and Harry Barris).

The film won an Oscar for Herman Rosse in the category of Best Art Decoration/Set Decoration. It premiered on April 20, 1930, at the Criterion Theater. Receipts from the film were below expectations within the first 2 weeks.

The grand premiere of the film was held on May 2, 1930 at the Roxy Theater in New York. At the Roxy Theater premiere, the Whiteman Orchestra, together with George Gershwin and the 125-piece Roxy Symphony Orchestra, put on a stage show. The show featured Rhapsody in Blue and Mildred Bailey, backed by the Roxy Chorus. The stage show was performed five times a day, between showings of the movie. The stage show ran for only one week, and the movie itself continued at the Roxy for only one additional week. There were at least nine different foreign language versions of the film. Reportedly, the Swedish version has at least some different music.  — extracts from Wikipedia

Meet the Boys – medley performed by various soloists and combinations of members of the “Paul Whiteman Orchestra”– credits throughout adapted from IMDb’s King of Jazz (1930) Soundtracks list

‘Hot Lips’ – Music and Lyrics by Henry Busse, Henry Lange, Lou Davis / Performed by Harry Goldfield (trumpet)

‘Wild Cat’ – Music by Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang / Performed by Joe Venuti (violin), and Eddie Lang (guitar)

‘Piccolo Pete’ – Music and Lyrics by Phil Baxter / Performed by Roy “Red” Maier (piccolo)

‘Caprice Viennois, Op. 2’ – Composed by Fritz Kreisler / Performed by Violin Sextet: Kurt Dieterle, Matty Malneck, John Bouman, Joe Venuti, Ted Bacon, and Otto Landau

‘Tambourin Chinoise, Op. 3’ – Composed by Fritz Kreisler / Performed by Violin Sextet: Kurt Dieterle, Matty Malneck, John Bouman, Joe Venuti, Ted Bacon, and Otto Landau

‘Nola’ – Music by Felix Arndt / Performed by Roy Bargy (piano), Chester Hazlett (clarinet), Wilbur Hall (trombone)*

‘Linger Awhile’ – Lyrics by Harry Owens, Music by Vincent Rose / Performed by Mike Pingitore (banjo); joined by Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra for the conclusion of the medley

* On “Nola”: The piece begins with a guitar introduction, probably by Eddie Lang (uncredited). Then Bargy and Hazlett play together. When they finish, trombonist Hall plays at a very fast tempo, accompanied by uncredited others playing a staccato rhythm on (I think) horns and strings.


(above) Harry Barris, Bing Crosby, and Al Rinker of Paul Whiteman’s Original Rhythm Boys

According to IMDb, the Rhythm Boys performed the following songs in the King of Jazz: Mississippi Mud, So the Bluebirds and the Blackbirds Got Together, I’m a Fisherman, A Bench in the Park, and Happy Feet, but it seems that they only performed a couple of bars of Mississippi Mud.

King of Jazz (1930) Rhthym Boys-Bluebirds number-1

So the Bluebirds and the Blackbirds Got Together (Harry Barris, Billy Moll) – The scene opens with the trio, during a staged rehearsal, singing the conclusion of Mississippi Mud before they agree to “…get out of the mud, and reach for the higher and finer things in life, the silver lining…”


King of Jazz (1930) Sisters G (Gutchrlein)-1

Happy Feet (Milton Ager, Jack Yellen) – a production number in three parts

  • 1 — Introduced by the Rhythm Boys then taken over by Sisters G, Eleanor and Karla Gutchrlein
  • 2 — Al “Rubber Legs” Norman and chorus line
  • 3 —  Paul Whiteman


My Bridal Veil (m. Milton Ager, w. John Murray Anderson and Jack Yellen) – A large ensemble number with vocals by Jeanette Loff and Stanley Smith and chorus, with “Paul Whiteman Orchestra”


The It Happened in Monterey number features a medley of “It Happened in Monterey,” and “La Paloma.” The number includes dancing by the Sisters G, George Chiles and the Russell Markert Girls, with music accompaniment provided by the “Paul Whiteman Orchestra.”

  • It Happened in Monterey (m. Mabel Wayne, w. Billy Rose) (titled Monterey on the program title page which introduces the number) — Sung by John Boles and Jeanette Loff
  • La Paloma (Sebastián Yradier) sung by Nancy Torres


King of Jazz (1930) Bench in the Park number-Rhythm Boys-Brox Sisters-1aa

A Bench in the Park (m. Milton Alger, w. Jack Yellen) – Vocal segment in the beginning of the number are sung alternately by Glenn Tryon and Laura LaPlante [IMDb credits the wrong singers here.], and the Brox Sisters with the Rhythm Boys: Bing Crosby, Harry Barris, and Al Rinker. Dance segments include dancing by the Russell Markert Girls and others [IMDB credits only The Russell Markert Girls; but there are couples dancing, male and female.]. Music by “Paul Whiteman Orchestra” throughout the number, with some members of the band performing brief solos in the final section.

Snowdrop and Paul Whiteman-King of Jazz (1930)-1a-30pPaul Whiteman and Snowdrop-King of Jazz (1930)-ss1-m1a

Toward the end of the last section we find that Paul Whiteman’s park bench sweetheart is little “Snowdrop.”


Comical Medley  —  medley of songs performed on violin and air pump by Willie Hall. Among the titles included in the medley are “Silent Night,” “Pop Goes the Weasel,” and “Stars and Stripes Forever” (John Philip Sousa).


Sisters G (Gutchrlein)-3aKing of Jazz (1930) Sisters G (Gutchrlein)-3

King of Jazz (1930) Sisters G (Gutchrlein)-2

Rhapsody in Blue (George Gershwin) Performed by Paul Whiteman and his orchestra; Piano soloist Roy Bargy / Opening clarinet solo danced by Jacques Cartier / Danced by Russell Markert Girls and Sisters G


My Lord Delivered Daniel (traditional, spiritual) – Sung by Bing Crosby in Walter Lantz cartoon segment “In Darkest Africa”


Jeanie Lang sings Ragamuffin Romeo

Ragamuffin Romeo (m. Mabel Wayne, w. Harry DeCosta) – Sung by Jeanie Lang and George Chiles / Danced by Marion Stattler and Don Rose, accompanied by “Paul Whiteman Orchestra” — Although the title of song is given as “Ragamuffin Romeo” at IMDb and elsewhere, the song and dance number is titled “My Ragamuffin Romeo” in the film.


Song of the Dawn (m. Milton Ager, w. Jack Yellen) Sung by John Boles with chorus, accompanied by “Paul Whiteman Orchestra”


1930 Song of the Dawn sheet music cover, from film King of Jazz (1930)


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