About Sherman

Allan Sherman’s My Son, The Folk Singer lifted him from obscurity to the heights of American celebrity and kicked off one of the most sensational winning streaks in American comedy.





Between October 1962 and August 1963, Sherman released My Son, The Folk Singer, My Son, The Celebrity, and My Son, The Nut. All three albums went gold, sold a total of 3 million copies, sparked a fifteen-city concert tour and landed Sherman dozens of national television appearances that brought his comedy to tens of millions.




Audiences across the country laughed and applauded as Sherman thumbed his nose at classic American songs. “The Streets of Laredo” became “The Streets of Miami,” where Jewish businessmen gunned it out and the loser “crumbled/Just like a piece halvah.” “The Ballad of Harry Lewis” replaced “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and in Sherman’s version the warehouse stored “the drapes of Roth,” not grapes of wrath (difficult to mark down).




He played Carnegie Hall; befriended Harpo Marx; discovered Bill Cosby; met President Kennedy; sang for the National Press Club, the U.S. Department of Labor, and Lyndon Johnson’s presidential campaign; and very incongruously participated in a New York orgy frequented by luminaries including George Plimpton.



The country’s greatest songwriters and composers and comedians recognized his talent. Richard Rodgers had worked with Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II, two of Broadway’s best lyricists, and he explored partnering with Sherman to create an original musical. Johnny Mercer and Irving Berlin sent congratulations, and Harpo Marx showed him off to Jack Benny and George Burns. They loved him, and so did much of the country.

Sherman's fame hit its peak in the summer of 1963 with the extraordinary international success of "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh! (A Letter from Camp)," which won him a Grammy Award and was turned into a children's book and even a board game. As an account of the record industry notes, in the early 1960s Sherman personified The Moment.

His completely unexpected and extraordinary success changed American comedy and popular culture. For the first time since the end of vaudeville more than a half-century earlier, Jewish dialect humor spread to mainstream culture and led to fame and fortune.

Ethnicity was back.

Allan Sherman's works (early, late, and last)

Plays

The Golden Touch, a Fable (with Bud Burtson) - musical play (not produced). 1947.
The Happy Medium (with Eugene O'Sullivan) - comic play about the television business. Brief run in Chicago regional theater. 1952.
The Fig Leaves are Falling (with Albert Hague). Broadway musical closes in four days. 1969.

Unreleased song parodies

The Goldeneh Moments from Broadway - Jewish parodies of Broadway (and movie) songs. 1950s. Some were recorded at parties in Westchester, NY, and Los Angeles. Parodies include:
  • "Change Partners" ("Change Partners," Carefree)
  • "Frank Cooper" ("Maria," West Side Story)
  • "Furrier's Lament" ("Autumn Leaves," Autumn Leaves)
  • "How Are Things With Uncle Morris" ("How Are Things in Glocca Morra," Finian's Rainbow)
  • "Ollawood" ("Camelot," Camelot)
  • "One for My Baby (And One for Two Cents Plain)" ("One for My Baby (And One More for the  Road"), The Sky's The Limit)
  • "Seventy-six Sol Cohens" ("Seventy-six Trombones," The Music Man)
  • "Small World" ("Small World," Gypsy)
  • "Summertime" Solly and Shirl ("Summertime" Porgy and Bess)
  • "There's a Jaguar Leaving Soon for the Concord" Solly and Shirl ("There's a Boat That's Leaving Soon for New York" Porgy and Bess)
  • "There is Nothing Like a Lox" South Passaic ("There is Nothin' Like a Dame," South Pacific)
  • "Thunderbird" ("Wunderbar" Kiss Me Kate)
  • "Tzimished" ("Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," Pal Joey)
  • "When You Walk Through the Bronx" ("You'll Never Walk Alone," Carousel)
  • "Younger than Springstein" South Passaic ("Younger than Springtime" South Pacific)
  • "You're a Nudnik, Sondra Goldfein" (You're a Queer One, Julie Jordan," Carousel)
  • "You're the Top" ("You're the Top" Anything Goes)

My Fair Sadie (my unofficial title) - Jewish parody of My Fair Lady. 1950s. Recording released on My Son, The Box (Rhino, 2005). Songs include:
  • "Wouldn't It Be Lovely"
  • "With a Little Bit of Lox"
  • "On the Streets Where Jews Live"
  • "I Got the Customers to Face"
  • "Get Me to the Temple on Time"

Recordings

My Son, The Folk Singer. Warner Bros. Records, 1962.
My Son, The Celebrity. Warner Bros. Records, 1962.
"Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh!" 45 rpm. 1963
My Son, The Nut. Warner Bros. Records, 1963.
"Hello Mudduh, Hello Fadduh!" 45 rpm. 1964 (new version).
Allan in Wonderland. Warner Bros. Records, 1964.
Peter and the Commissar. RCA Victor Red Seal. 1964.
For Swingin' Livers Only. Warner Bros. Records, 1964.
My Name is Allan. Warner Bros. Records, 1965.
Allan Sherman -- Live!!! (Hoping You are the Same). Warner Bros. Records, 1966.
Togetherness. Warner Bros. Records, 1967.


Television projects

Funnyland. Sherman wrote much of the material for this one-hour television special and pilot built around him as the star. No series grew from it. January 18, 1965 on NBC network.
Something Special. Another television vehicle for Sherman, but not a pilot. The one-hour special aired October 16, 1966.


Books

Instant Status; or, Up Your Image (with Arnold Peyser and Lois Peyser). G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1964.
A Gift of Laughter. Atheneum, 1965.
Every 600 Years, on a Tuesday (The Journey to the Perfectly Fair). Unpublished. 1971.
The Rape of the A.P.E.: The Official History of the Sexual Revolution. Playboy Press, 1973.


Other

Hallowed Be Thy Game: The Gospel According to St. Andrews. Stand-up comedy routine performed and recorded at La Costa Country Club, Carlsbad, Calif. Unreleased. 1972.



Allan Sherman, a chronology

Chaotic Childhood
  • November 30, 1924. Allan Copelon is born in Chicago.
  • 1930. Moves with parents Percy and Rose (Sherman) Copelon to Los Angeles.
  • February 1932. Parents separate. 
  • Fall 1932. Allan sent to live with a Sherman relative in New York.
  • May 1933. Sent to live with maternal grandparents Leon and Esther Sherman in Chicago. Attends Lowell Elementary.
  • June 1933. Parents divorce. Allan loses touch with his father, who moves back to Birmingham, Alabama, where he was raised.
  • September 1933. Allan moves back to Los Angeles. Attends Cahuenga Grammar School.
  • September 1935. Sent back to Chicago to live again with immigrant grandparents. Develops deep attachment to their ethnic Jewish life and language. Attends Lowell.
  • May 1936. Rose Sherman marries con man Dave Segal in Los Angeles.
  • June 1936. Allan moves back to Los Angeles to live with Rose and Dave. Takes the name Allan Segal. Attends John Burroughs Junior High School.

Comedy + Chaos = Sherman

  • October 1937. Writes "Catastrophe," a poem charged with sexual mischief, for John Burroughs school paper.
  • June 1938. "Humpty Dumpty" parody appears in John Burroughs yearbook.
  • September 1938. Enters Los Angeles' Fairfax High School as a sophomore.
  • November 1939. Dave Segal is arrested for check forging. 
  • February 1940. Allan leaves Fairfax High.
  • March 1940. Allan reportedly in Ohio.
  • March-May 1940. Attends Tuley and/or Amundsen high schools in Chicago.
  • June 1940. Attends Florida's Miami Senior High School.
  • September 1940. Allan back at Fairfax. Takes the name Allan Sherman. In student newspaper, writes "Witz-Krieg" column that promises a comic bombardment.

Broadway Bound

  • September 1941. Attends University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
  • October 1942. Wins fame for song parody "Don't Burn Down Bidwell's," about a student hangout, to the tune of "Won't You Come Home, Bill Bailey." 
  • October 1943. "We Are Civilians '43" song parody of "This is the Army, Mr. Jones."
  • 1943. Writes Yokohama! parody of Oklahoma!
  • March 1944. Writes and stars in musical comedy Mirth of a Nation, set during twelfth Roosevelt administration.
  • March 1945. "Don't Take My Pin" song parody of "Don't Fence Me In."
  • April 1945. Pins future wife Dolores "Dee" Chackes.
  • April 11, 1945. Sherman ejected from college for poor scholarship, cutting phys ed and apparently but not officially for being a smart-ass.
  • May 1945. Moves to New York to become a playwright.
  • June 1945. Sherman returns to Chicago and marries Dee. They move to New York.

Mad Men

  • 1947. New York Times reports Sherman's musical, The Golden Touch, needs a producer. Set in a delicatessen, Golden is a fable about Jewish assimilation.
  • 1948. Golden Touch producers, a pair of swindlers, are arrested. Production dies.
  • 1949. Sherman's father dies on 93rd day of 100-day fast to lose 150 pounds.
  • 1950. Son Robert is born.
  • 1951. With a friend creates and sells idea for I've Got a Secret quiz show. Sherman named producer. 
  • 1951. Begins writing Goldeneh Moments from Broadway song parodies.
  • 1952. Daughter Nancy is born.
  • 1954. Sherman family moves to Westchester, forms circle of writer and show business friends and with them "smoked, drank, had affairs, and their families be damned," remembered one friend's ex-wife.

Going for Broke

  • 1958. Fired from I've Got a Secret.
  • 1959. Moves family into larger, more expensive Westchester home.
  • 1959. Publishes sentimental story about Grandma Esther and her Yiddish accent.
  • 1961. Television project takes Sherman family to Los Angeles.
  • 1961. Sings Goldeneh Moments parodies for neighbor Harpo Marx. 
  • 1961. Records obscene parody of "Big Bad John" for party honoring outgoing president of Warner Bros. Records, Jim Conkling. Song is a hit with Sherman's future bosses at Warner.
  • 1962. Television project ends. Gets job on Steve Allen show. Fired in three weeks. 
  • June 1962. Unemployed and broke, Sherman seems headed for disaster.
  • June 1962. Signs record contract with Warner Bros. Records.

My Son, The Star

  • October 4, 1962. My Son, The Folk Singer ships.
  • October 26. Chairman of the FCC writes Sherman a fan letter.
  • October 27. Warner apologizes to dealers for shortage of records.
  • October 31. "Unbelievable!!!" Warner reports sales of 390,000 in three weeks.
  • December 1. Folk Singer #1 on Billboard charts.
  • December 8. Folk Singer #1 on Billboard charts.
  • December. Folk Singer wins Gold Record award.
  • December. My Son, The Celebrity ships.
  • February 1963. Celebrity #3 on Billboard charts. Folk Singer #2.
  • March 1963. Celebrity wins Gold Record award.
  • 1963. Sherman goes on national concert tour.
  • July 1963. "Hello Muddah" single ships. Sells 300,000 in two weeks.
  • August 1963. My Son, The Nut released. 
  • August 31. Nut is #1 record in the country.
  • September 21. Nut is still #1.
  • September 1963. All three Sherman albums are on the Top 100 chart.
  • May 1964. "Hello Muddah" wins Grammy Award.
(more to come soon)

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