Everything you wanted to know about “Puttin’ On the Ritz” but were afraid to ask.

Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

July 24th, 2018, 9:50 pm #1

 Irving Berlin’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”

Cesar Ritz. From Wikipedia:
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... 897%29.jpg
“Born  Cäsar Ritz 23 February 1850 Niederwald, Switzerland
Died 24 October 1918 Küssnacht, Switzerland
César Ritz (23 February 1850 – 24 October 1918[1]) was a Swiss hotelier and founder of several hotels, most famously the Hôtel Ritz in Paris

and the Ritz and Carlton Hotels in London

(the forerunners of the modern Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company).

He was known as "king of hoteliers, and hotelier to kings," and it is from his name and that of his hotels that the term ritzy derives.
By the late 1890s, Ritz was an extremely busy man, with hotel enterprises in Rome, Frankfurt, Salsomaggiore, Palermo, Biarritz, Wiesbaden, Monte Carlo, Lucerne and Menton and projects in Madrid, Cairo and Johannesburg. According to his wife, "César's suitcases were never completely unpacked; he was always either just arriving from or departing upon a new journey".[19] In 1896, Ritz formed the Ritz Hotel syndicate with South African millionaire Alfred Beit, reputedly the wealthiest man in the world at the time. They opened what would become the celebrated Hôtel Ritz in the Place Vendôme, Paris, late in 1898. At the inauguration, on 1 June 1898, were many figures of the European elite, including Lady de Grey, the Duke and Duchess de Rohan, Calouste Gulbenkian, and Marcel Proust.[21] He went on to open The Ritz Hotel in London in 1905, which became one of the most popular meeting places of the era for the rich and famous. The Ritz Hotel in Madrid, opened in 1906, inspired by King Alfonso XIII's desire to build a luxury hotel to rival the Ritz in Paris. Ritz enjoyed a long partnership with Auguste Escoffier, the famous French chef and father of modern French cooking. The partnership lasted until Ritz had to retire in 1907 because of deteriorating health.
Put on the Ritz. Free Dictionary: “To behave extravagantly, lavishly, or self-importantly; to make an ostentatious production or appearance.”

Irving Berlin’s “Putting On the Ritz.”
From Wikipedia
“Puttin' On the Ritz" is a song written by Irving Berlin. He wrote it in May 1927 and first published it on December 2, 1929.[1] It was registered as an unpublished song August 24, 1927 and again on July 27, 1928.[1] It was introduced by Harry Richman and chorus in the musical film Puttin' On the Ritz (1930). According to The Complete Lyrics of Irving Berlin, this was the first song in film to be sung by an interracial ensemble.[1] The title derives from the slang expression "to put on the Ritz", meaning to dress very fashionably. The expression was inspired by the opulent Ritz Hotel.
Hit phonograph records of the tune in its original period of popularity of 1929–1930 were recorded by Harry Richman and by Fred Astaire, with whom the song is particularly associated. Every other record label had their own version of this popular song (Columbia, Brunswick, Victor, and all of the dime store labels). Richman's Brunswick version of the song became the number-one selling record in America.[1]
The song received renewed popularity and became known to a new generation of fans in 1983 when Taco, a Dutch musician, recorded and released a new version of the song. Taco's version was accompanied by a music video, which aired on MTV and other music video networks and programs.
The original version of Berlin's song included references to the then-popular fad of flashily-dressed but poor black Harlemites parading up and down Lenox Avenue, "Spending ev'ry dime / For a wonderful time". In the UK, the song was popularized through the BBC's radio broadcasts of Joe Kaye's Band performing it at The Ritz Hotel, London restaurant in the 1930s.[3] The song was featured with the original lyrics in the 1939 film Idiot's Delight, where it was performed by Clark Gable and chorus, and this routine was selected for inclusion in That's Entertainment (1974). Columbia released a 78 recording of Fred Astaire singing the original lyrics in May 1930[4] (B-side – "Crazy Feet", both recorded on March 26, 1930). For the film Blue Skies (1946), where it was performed by Fred Astaire, Berlin revised the lyrics to apply to affluent whites strutting "up and down Park Avenue".[1][A] This second version was published after being registered for copyright on August 28, 1946.[
The Complete Lyrics of Irving Berlin by Robert Kimball, Linda Emmet
Hal Leonard Corporation, 2005         
PuttinOnTheRitzTheComplete LyricsofIrving Berlin.jpg
The Original Lyrics:

"Puttin' On The Ritz"
[Original 1930 version]
Have you seen the well-to-do
Up on Lenox Avenue
On that famous thoroughfare
With their noses in the air
High hats and colored collars
White spats and fifteen dollars
Spending every dime
For a wonderful time
If you're blue and you don't know where to go to
Why don't you go where Harlem sits
Puttin' on the ritz
Spangled gowns upon a bevy of high browns
From down the levee, all misfits
Puttin' on the ritz
That's where each and ev'ry Lulu Bell goes
Ev'ry Thursday ev'ning with her swell beaus
Rubbing elbows
Come with me and we'll attend their jubilee
And see them spend their last two bits
Puttin' on the ritz

1940s Lyrics First Used by Fed Astaire
Have you seen the well-to-do, up and down Park Avenue
On that famous thoroughfare, with their noses in the air
High hats and Arrowed collars, white spats and lots of dollars
Spending every dime, for a wonderful time
If you're blue and you don't know where to go to
Why don't you go where fashion sits,
Puttin' on the ritz.
Different types who wear a daycoat, pants with stripes
And cut away coat, perfect fits,
Puttin' on the ritz.
Dressed up like a million dollar trouper
Trying hard to look like Gary Cooper (super duper)
Come let's mix where Rockefellers walk with sticks
Or umbrellas in their mitts
Puttin' on the Ritz

Tips his hat just like an english chappie
To a lady with a wealthy pappy (very snappy)
You'll declare it's simply topping to be there
And hear them swapping smart titbits
Puttin' on the ritz!

The first performance

March 1, 1930 film “Puttin' on the Ritz.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66km3m_ ... 6km3m_UE_k

Some of the first recordings

 Harry Richman Acc By Earl Burtnett And His Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel Orchestra : Harry Richman (vcl) acc by Fran Baker (cnt) Fuzz Menge (tp) Lank Menge (tb) Hank Miller, Gene Miller (al,as) Fred Stoddard (cl,ts,arr) Earl Burtnett (p,dir) Bill Grantham (bj) Harry Robison (b) Jesse Kirkpatrick (d)
            New York, January, 1930
LAE-672         Puttin' on the Ritz (hr vcl)      Br 4677
Leo Reisman And His Orchestra : Bubber Miley, Louis Shaffrin (tp) + other (tp) Ernie Gibbs (tb) Jessie Smith (cl,as,fl) Louis Martin (as) Burt Williams (as,bar) Bill Tronstein (cl,sop,as,ts) Adrian Rollini (bassax) Leo Reisman (vln,dir) Lew Conrad (vln,vcl) unknown (cello) Eddie Duchin (p) unknown (bj) poss. Harry Atlas (tu) Harry Sigman (d)
            New York, January 20, 1930
58608-3           Puttin' on the Ritz (lc vcl)       Vic    22306
Fred Astaire (vcl,tap dancing) Max Goldberg (cnt) prob. Ted Heath (tb) Van Phillips (cl) Sid Bright (p) Len Fillis (g) Spike Hughes (b)
            London, March 26, 1930
WA-10227-2   Puttin' on the Ritz       Col (E)DB-96
Fred Astaire (From "Blue Skies")
Some fun versions
Fred Astaire
Clark Gable Idiots Delight
Young Frankenstein and his creature dancing

Joined: March 24th, 2018, 11:32 pm

July 26th, 2018, 4:42 am #2

Fred Astaire actually recorded this song with the original lyric in 1930 in England, 16 years before he introduced the revised version in "Blue Skies." A scratchy transfer can be heard at  

Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

July 26th, 2018, 12:41 pm #3

In fact I gave a link to Fred's 1930 version in my posting.
Fred Astaire (vcl,tap dancing) Max Goldberg (cnt) prob. Ted Heath (tb) Van Phillips (cl) Sid Bright (p) Len Fillis (g) Spike Hughes (b)
            London, March 26, 1930
WA-10227-2   Puttin' on the Ritz       Col (E)DB-96

Joined: April 24th, 2018, 8:31 pm

July 26th, 2018, 5:24 pm #4

Bertie Wooster flummoxed by the syncopation until Jeeves saves the day:  

Joined: March 15th, 2018, 6:05 am

July 27th, 2018, 12:30 am #5

True, Andy. But it took a different song to embody Bertie's requirement for "A spot of philosophy, Jeeves. Something to make you think."


Joined: April 24th, 2018, 8:31 pm

July 27th, 2018, 12:42 am #6

Oh you gotta love that... thanks!