SHERMAN OAKS, CA / ACCESSWIRE / April 28, 2020 / Turning on the radio back in 1944 you would have heard the most celebrated jazz musicians such as Louis Armstrong and Lionel Hampton and vocalists such as Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Dinah Washington and actress Marlene Dietrich singing the wartime song “No Love, No Nothin’.” Lyricist Leo Robin wrote the heartfelt lyrics to this song during World War II when romantic and sentimental songs about the girls left behind captured the mood of the country. In The Great Jazz and Pop Vocal Albums, Will Friedwald gives his interpretation, “this no-frills love song is refreshingly straightforward. No frills, no love, no nothin’, in fact — it’s all about the deprivation of the ‘love-sick girl’ on the home front is suffering; […] there’s an obvious parallel with wartime rationing and shortages. It was near impossible to get sugar, rubber, tires, or gasoline, among other goods and the same thing applied to love, she’s not getting any of that either.”
Today’s songwriters and musicians amid the Coronavirus pandemic follow in the footsteps of those during World War II in writing and performing songs that capture the mood of the country during this new war against what President Trump calls the “invisible enemy.” For example, Alicia Keys, a 15-time Grammy winner, debuted her new powerful anthem “Good Job” to honor the unsung heroes in her own life during a CNN global town hall addressing the latest developments in the Covid-19 pandemic. During World War II, Leo Robin was in charge of “The Hollywood Office of the Music War Council of the American Theatre Wing,” whose task was the west coast branch’s search for songs to support the war effort. This role of Robin’s was foremost on a list of contributions to the community and civic-oriented participation which helped qualify him the star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame which was awarded to him nearly 30 years ago but still has yet to be installed.
Medley of radio recordings during World War II of the ballad “No Love, No Nothin’,” composed by Harry Warren with lyrics by Leo Robin, including Judy Garland in a Command Performance hosted by Bob Hope broadcast on the Armed Forces Radio Network airing on February 12, 1944, Louis Armstrong in 1944 broadcast, Marlene Dietrich entertaining troops at the Stage Door Canteen in Paris on March 10, 1945, Frank Sinatra in 1944 broadcast of Your Hit Parade and
Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra with a vocal by a Dinah Washington on June 16, 1944
More than 30 years ago, in 1988, both Cherie Robin, and actor, Bob Hope, wanted to see to it that Leo would be acknowledged for the legacy that Roy Trakin reported on in his Variety article,” Thanks for the Memory: How Leo Robin Helped Usher In the Golden Age of Song in Film;” to this end, Cherie Robin and Bob Hope sponsored Leo for a posthumous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Tragically, Cherie Robin never received the good news about Leo’s star because she passed away on May 28, 1989, a little over one year before the letter from the Hollywood Chamber was sent out on June 18, 1990 announcing that her husband had been awarded the star. As a result of these ill-fated circumstances, Leo’s star was never installed. On July 6, 2017, Leo’s grandson discovered Leo’s long-lost star when he stumbled upon it on the internet. When, later that day, the grandson called the Hollywood Chamber and spoke to Ms. Martinez, he told her about his discovery of Leo’s long-lost star; she officially confirmed it was true and said, “Nothing like this has ever happened before.”
Almost two years later on May 23, 2019, Ashley Lee from the Los Angeles Times first broke the grandson’s serendipitous discovery in her story, “Leo Robin never got his Walk of Fame star. Now his grandson is fighting for it.” When, nearly 30 years ago, the acceptance letter was mailed to Mrs. Robin (deceased) and subsequently returned to sender, Ms. Lee reported what happened, “The envelope was returned to its sender and has since remained in the Chamber of Commerce’s records.” She also tweeted, “at first I didn’t believe that Leo Robin’s star had really slipped through the cracks” with a photo of that acceptance letter and the envelope stamped “RETURN TO SENDER.” The Hollywood Chamber made no attempt to notify the co-sponsor, Bob Hope, who has four stars on the Walk. In a press release issued by Leo Robin Music on June 26, 2019, the following was said about the Hollywood Chamber, “What the Chamber did after the letter was (marked) “Return to Sender” was not customary practice but smacks of disregard for the individuals honored by the Walk of Fame Committee.”
The sentimental song “No Love, No Nothin’,” composed by Harry Warren with lyrics by Leo Robin on October 8, 1943, was introduced by actress Alice Faye in the Twentieth Century Fox 1943 musical film The Gang’s All Here, also starring Carmen Miranda with an arrangement by jazz legend Benny Carter. This song became an instant wartime hit when Ella Mae Morse’s record, released in January 1944, climbed into the top 10 music charts of the day Hot Charts and Your Hit Parade, where it stayed for months. This along with all of the greatest jazz musicians and vocalists, mentioned earlier, who sang it during World War II set the tune on a fast-track path to becoming a jazz standard.
Because of the song’s popularity during the war, it has recently been featured in films set in the war period. Rosemary Clooney’s recording, from her 1991 album For the Duration covering songs popular during World War II, was played in episode 2 of George Clooney’s 2019 Hulu show “Catch-22,” a miniseries war drama that takes place in Italy during 1944 based on the novel of the same name by Joseph Heller. In addition, Ella Mae Morse’s recording could be heard in the 2019 melodrama film Aftermath which is set in postwar Germany during the reconstruction period in 1946. Another jazz song “Hi-Ya Love,” composed by Ralph Rainger with lyrics by Leo Robin, was played in this same film about the aftermath of World War II.
The songwriters who would later come together to write “No Love, No Nothin'” appeared with an impressive congregation of songwriters at
Hollywood’s famed Trocadero nightclub on the Sunset Strip in 1938. Front row from left to right: Lorenz Hart and Hoagy Carmichael.
Back row from left to right: Al Dubin, Mack Gordon, Leo Robin, Harry Revel and Harry Warren.
In The Songs that Fought the War: Popular Music and the Home Front, 1939-1945, John Bush Jones gives his insight into Robin’s poignant lyrics, “Leo Robin […] injected into a basically serious number a few moments of earthy and borderline risqué playfulness that make extremely vivid a girl’s feelings about being alone, faithful, and frustrated.”
Not just what music historian and showman Michael Feinstein calls “an unsung genius of American popular song“, the civic-minded Robin was involved in many local and national activities. Among them, he served as a social worker at Big Brothers, a progressive charity organization for ‘wayward young boys’, on the Music War Council and on the American National Red Cross. During World War II, Robin was in charge of “The Hollywood Office of the Music War Council of the American Theatre Wing,” (aka West Coast Branch) whose charge was for the west coast branch’s search for songs to support the war effort. Robin worked with distinguished members on the “The Hollywood Office of the Music War Council of the American Theatre Wing” including Harold Arlen, Ira Gershwin, Jule Styne, Sammy Cahn and Mr. Coleson of the War Department. There were ten major publishers that met and presented their song suggestions to the War Department. Robin worked closely with Oscar Hammerstein II, who represented the East Coast Branch, (aka the New York Organization). Hammerstein II wrote to Robin on September 14, 1943 to update him on the music war committee’s activities with a challenge and a wink, “all we need is that great song. If it comes from California, it won’t make me mad.”
Meanwhile, the war is raging on between Leo Robin Music and the Hollywood Walk of Fame in regards to the star awarded to the lyricist but never installed. In contradiction to its mission, the Hollywood Chamber is not doing justice to the nomination of Robin. Instead we are witness to the injustice of Leo’s long-lost star and the Chamber’s refusal to honor their commitment to Robin’s memory. Moreover, in a press release issued by Leo Robin Music on July 30, 2019, the following was said about the Hollywood Chamber, “What a strange twist in irony; the Chamber, which administers this famous sidewalk landmark and usually assists honorees, performed the opposite of its mission and public expectations. Instead of assisting, the Chamber obstructed installation by ignoring emails for a whole year and failing to honor its promise for the Walk of Fame Committee to consider the grandson’s request for the star to be placed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.”
Throughout the past sixty years, the Chamber has successfully kept track of 2,690 honorees and has seen to it that each and every one of them received a star, which was then successfully installed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame — except for Robin. Unfortunately, one can’t help but conclude that Robin has been treated unjustly by the Hollywood Chamber. Upon the passing of Johnny Grant on January 9, 2008, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said, “Angelenos will always remember Johnny as the heart of Hollywood Boulevard, the dignified guardian of its gilded prestige and the human shine behind every one of its stars…” Johnny Grant, who was Chairman of the 1990 Walk of Fame Committee and signed the acceptance letter addressed to Mrs. Robin, must be looking down and gobsmacked by the bellicosity with which the Hollywood Chamber is spurning the decision by the 1990 Walk of Fame Committee to award a star to Leo Robin. It’s time for the Hollywood Chamber to respect the decision made by the Walk of Fame Committee and honor its obligation to put Leo’s long-lost star in its rightful place on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
For more information, visit the Newsroom at the official website of Leo Robin at http://leorobin.com/.
About Leo Robin Music
Leo Robin Music owns the copyrights of songs written by Leo Robin, who was known as the “Dean of Lyric Writers.” He created lyrics that have inspired popular music and become part of the fabric of our culture. Considered to be one of the most influential songwriters of the 20th Century, he wrote many of the country’s most popular jazz standards including “Blue Hawaii,” “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” “Easy Living,” “If I Should Lose You,” “My Ideal,” “Prisoner of Love” and “Thanks for the Memory.”
Scott D. Ora
President – Leo Robin Music
Leo Robin (@LeoRobinMusic) / Twitter
SOURCE: Leo Robin Music
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