Von Tilzer, Harry [Gumm, Harold]
- Deane L. Root
(b Detroit, July 8, 1872; d New York, Jan 10, 1946). American songwriter, publisher and performer. He added ‘Von’ to his mother’s maiden name and used this as a professional pseudonym. He worked in a circus and medicine show as a singer and tumbler and published his first song in 1892 (I love you both). In the same year he went to New York, where he performed his songs in vaudeville. The success of My Old New Hampshire Home (1898) was such that he was made a partner in the publishing firm Shapiro, Bernstein & Co., for whom he then wrote A Bird in a Gilded Cage (1900); he worked for the firm as a song plugger. In 1902 he founded the Harry Von Tilzer Music Co., which became one of the most successful American popular-music publishers in the early 20th century, earning him the nickname ‘the Man who Launched a Thousand Hits’. Von Tilzer engaged Irving Berlin as a song plugger, issued George Gershwin’s first song and is reputed to have published about 2000 of his own songs, including ...