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December 26, 1986 - Image 66

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-12-26

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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CONGENITAL
HEART DISEASE?

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Congenital heart disease is the ab-
normal development of the heart be-
fore a child is born. A congenital
heart defect may be diagnosed at
birth or it may be discovered at some
time during childhood in a routine
physical examination. Some defects
may be caused by drugs taken
during pregnancy or exposure to
German measles (rubella) during
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or the cause may be unknown. Con-
genital heart defects may require
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Some congenital heart defects can
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66 Friday, December 26, 1986 THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

ENTERTAINMENT

Irving Caesar Lives
By His 'Crazy Rhythm'

lege of the City of New York
He left in his freshman year
and plunged into an adven-
ture as Henry Ford's personal
hen Irving Caesar
stenographer and correspon-
isn't happily writ-
dent on Ford's peace ship ex-
ing or performing
pedition to Europe in 1915.
his lyrics to Broadway hit
He soon returned to Tin
songs, he's diligently deposit-
Pan Alley. "George Gershwin
ing his royalty checks in the
and I talked of writing a spng
bank. He has written the
about the Swanee River dur-
lyrics to 2,000 songs, among
ing a Fifth Avenue bus ride
them the American classics
to Riverside Drive where the
Swanee, Tea For Two, Some-
Gershwins lived. At • the
times I'm Happy, Crazy
apartment there was a card
Rhythm, If I Forget You, I
game in progress, but that
Want to Be Happy, Just a
didn't stop us. Gershwin sat
Gigolo and Is It True What
at the piano and played the
They Say About Dixie?
melody as I worked on the
He prefers counting his ac-
lyrics."
complishments to his 91
Within half an hour they
birthdays, and this is one
came up with Swanee. It
Caesar they're not going to
caught fire and Al Jolson per-
bury in a hurry. Other than
formed it at the Winter Gar-
failing vision, his health is
den, and then it swept the
solid, and he is blessed with
nation.
one of the best memories in
Some artists create based
show business.
on their experiences, but
And he just can't stop
Caesar works differently.
working. "If I get an idea for
"My songs were never au-
a new song I have to write it
tobiographical," he said.
or bust," he confessed.
"Take Swanee. We had never
The vibrant lyricist has
seen the Swanee River —
outlasted all his col-
never been south of 14th
laborators, some of them the
Street. After the song became
most remarkable composers
a hit, we decided to take a
of the century: George Ger-
trip south and look at the
shwin, Vincent Youmans,
river that flowed gold for us.
Victor Herbert, Sigmund
It was a lucky thing that
Romberg and Rudolf Frimi.
song was written first.
"Then there was Lady Play
All of this seemed like yes-
Your Mandolin, written with
terday to cigar-chomping
Caesar as he shared reminis-
Oscar Levant. I never knew a
cences in his New York home
lady who could play a mando-
and office. He has one of
lin. I didn't especially like
those faces that seems to
the mandolin, and good as
the song is, I got more of a
have New York carved all
over it. His gravelly baritone
bang out of hearing someone
voice retains the rhythms of
sing a parody of it Lady, Let
Manhattan's Lower East
Your Mendel In — than I did
Side. Short and stocky, he
out of the original."
has brown eyes behind thick
The work that absorbs
glasses and shock of white
most of his time (and is
hair.
closest to his heart) and re-
His parents were Roma-
turns the least money is the
nian Jews who immigrated to
promotion of his book Book of
America in 1892. Caesar was
Children's Songs of Friend-
the youngest of three chil-
ship, Safety, Manners and
Health. Written in the late
dren. His father, a lifelong
radical, struggled in a
'30s and early '40s, at his
second-hand book store on
own expense, its 56 children's
the Lower East Side and was
songs have been translated
one of the founders .of the
into several languages, and
Jewish Daily Forward Yid-
include such compelling titles
dish newspaper.
as How To Spell Friendship,
"I was a product of the
There's Something About
people who ran the settle-
America!, Thomas Jefferski
and This Is Our Last Chance
ment houses," Caesar re-
called. "I adored them all —
For Peace.
they were wonderful women
At one time it was esti-
— devoted, dedicated."
mated that about ten million
children throughout the
The settlements were sup-
United States sang these
ported by wealthy German
songs. The Anti-Defamation
Jewish bankers who intro-
League of B'nai B'rith dis-
duced many famous people to
tributed more than 100,000
the children. "It was my
entrance into the greater
copies and sent Caesar on a
nationwide tour to perform
world. Unfortunately, I was a
concerts for children.
restless little kid who was
full of music and fun, and I
"Maybe these songs for
didn't practice," he admitted.
children will send me to the
songwriter's heaven — when
"But I did learn to play the
piano with one hand and
my hi-dee-ho songs would be
began to write poems and
sure to send me to a hotter
region," he joked.
songs. I wrote my first song
when I was 5." He then pro-
He still sings in public. "I
ceeded to sing his Sailor Boy.
love to face an audience and
communicate, whether by
He qualified for Townsend
talk or song," he explained.
Harris High School for bright
"I've been singing for my
kids and went on to the Col-
supper all my life."

GERRY MORRIS

Special to The Jewish News

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