Lewis, Ted [Friedman, Theodore Leopold ]
- Mark Tucker
[Friedman, Theodore Leopold ]
(b Circleville, OH, June 6, 1890; d New York, NY, Aug 25, 1971). American bandleader, clarinetist, and entertainer. After working in tent shows and on the vaudeville circuit he settled in New York, first playing with Earl Fuller’s band, then forming his own group in 1918. Within two years he began recording for Columbia and appearing in various revues: the Greenwich Village Follies (1919 and 1921), Ziegfeld’s Midnight Frolics (1919), and the Ted Lewis Frolics (1923). In the early 1930s Lewis recorded with such first-rate jazz musicians as Muggsy Spanier, Georg Brunis, Frank Teschemacher, Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, and Fats Waller. He continued to lead groups of various sizes through the mid-1960s, working most often at hotels, resorts, and nightclubs. Lewis’s approach changed little over the years. At the end of his career he still appeared with battered top hat and cane performing old vaudeville routines, delivering songs he had popularized years before (“When My Baby Smiles at Me,” “Me and My Shadow”) in his characteristic patter style (more spoken than sung), playing his old Albert-system clarinet; and asking his favorite, time-worn question, “Is everybody happy?” His archival materials are held in ...