The Girl on the Magazine – 1915

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The Girl on the Magazine (Irving Berlin)

The Girl on the Magazine was introduced by Joseph Santley and “The Four Seasons” aka “The Magazine Girls” (see photos, below) in Stop! Look! Listen!, a 1915 Broadway musical comedy revue in three acts with music and lyrics by Irving Berlin and book by Harry B. Smith. The play was produced by Charles Dillingham and directed by R.H. Burnside. Stop! Look! Listen! opened at the Globe Theatre on Christmas Day, 1915 and had a run of 105 performances.

The song is also known and recorded under the alternate title The Girl on the Magazine Cover.

Joseph Santley with the Magazine Girls, Stop! Look! Listen!, 1916-2a-d10

1915_Joseph Santley and the Four Seasons_Girl on the Magazine number_1_f55

(above, two photos) The “Four Seasons,” also referred to as the Magazine Girls, pose in costume with Joseph Santley. The seasons are represented by Eleanor St. Clair (Spring), Marion Davies (Summer), Evelyn Conway (Autumn), and Hazel Lewis (Winter).

Early recordings: The top-selling recording (1916) was by Harry Macdonough. Billy Murray’s 1916 recording was released as the B-side of I Love a Piano. Both sides were hits, according to The Complete Lyrics of Irving Berlin, eds. Robert Kimball and Linda Emmet, 2005,p. 133.

Harry Macdonough — 1916

From a biography by Allan Sutton titled “Harry Macdonough: Victor’s Singing Executive,” published at Mainspring Press (mainspringpress.com):

John S. Macdonald — known to millions of record buyers as “Harry Macdonough” — was among the best-selling and most prolific studio singers of the acoustic era. What those customers did not know was that “Macdonough” was the alias of an important Victor Talking Machine Company manager, and later executive, for whom singing was largely a sideline.

Macdonald’s first documented recording session was a test engagement for Edison on October 17, 1898. Supposedly at the urging of Edison studio manager Walter Miller, Macdonald took the pseudonym of “Harry Macdonough,” apparently unaware that he was appropriating the name of a popular New York musical comedy star. Once the problem was discovered, Macdonald sent a letter of apology to his namesake, yet he continued to use the name. The fact that neither Miller nor Macdonald was aware of a star of the real Macdonough’s magnitude reflects the cultural vacuum in which the early record companies sometimes seemed to operate.

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Ampico Lexington #50372C, player piano roll played by William E. Berge, date unknown

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Dick Haymes with piano accompaniment by Carmen Cavallaro — recorded on 28 December 1947; issued on Decca 24422, c/w “Soft Lights and Sweet Music”

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In Easter Parade (1948), The Girl on the Magazine Cover is production number, sung by Richard Beavers and chorus, danced by Ann Miller  and chorus.

The film version uses only the song’s chorus, omitting both of the verses written by Berlin. In doing so it completely misses the satirical nature of the lyric, which is made especially clear at the conclusion of the second verse:

My home is a picture book
If ever you came to look
You’d find her in ev’ry corner
And in ev’ry nook
She’s fairer than all the queens
And loving her simply means
That I’m kept busy buying magazines

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Corliss Lamont — from the album Corliss Lamont Sings for His Family and Friends a Medley of Favorite Hit Songs from American Musicals, released on 1 January 1977

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Tiny Tim — live, 20 August 1993

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— Gulbransen Rialto K theatre organ, 2011

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