Cabaret Through Time Fridays At McElrath Cabaret: Matt Dennis–Join Us!

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Fridays are the day when we at the McElrath Cabaret Blog are going to present blog posts in our Cabaret Through Time series. We are going to present historical cabaret singers, entertainers, venues, writers, and musicians, and will begin to compile a cabaret timeline. We hope that you find it informative!

 

Matt Dennis–Composer Of Several Cabaret Standards

 

Yesterday I put a brief mention of Matt Dennis at the top of our Thursday Featured Cabaret blog, websites or performers post, and I thought that I would like to spend a bit more time giving information about the works of Mr. Dennis today, because he wrote so many wonderful songs that have become standards in cabaret shows throughout the world.

 

Information about Matt Dennis can be found on Wikipedia, as well as the fact from this article that Mr. Dennis was a native of Washington State (along with Bing Crosby and Gypsy Rose Lee!).  He wrote the sound tracks and acted in several films, and was mentioned in the New York Times.  You can see and hear several of his songs on You Tube.  Unfortunately, I could find no official website for Matt Dennis.  There are three brief mentions of Matt Dennis in James Gavin’s wonderful volume on classic cabaret  from its golden age, Intimate Nights.

 

From the Wikipedia entry on Matt Dennis, we learn that a list of some of his most well-known songs include:

  • “Angel Eyes” (According to IMDB, this song was used in the 1953 film Jennifer, starring Ida Lupino and Howard Duff, and Dennis also appeared in the film)
  • “Everything Happens to Me”
  • “Let’s Get Away from It All”
  • “Little Man With A Candy Cigar”
  • “The Night We Called It a Day”
  • “Violets For Your Furs”
  • “Will You Still Be Mine”
  • “That Tired Routine Called Love”
  • “Compared To You”
  • “Junior and Julie”
  • “It Wasn’t the Stars That Thrilled Me”
  • “When You Love A Fella”
  • Show Me Way To Get Out Of This World (Cause That’s Where Everything Is)
  • We Belong Together
  • We’ve Reached The Point Of No Return
  • You Can Believe Me
This article about Mr. Dennis mentions that he worked primarily in Los Angeles at the height of his career during the 1940s and 50s; according to an article on AllMusic, he worked as a nightclub entertainer into the 1960s.  Some of the venues in which he performed in Los Angeles were:
  • Tally-Ho
  • The Encore
  • The Captain’s Table
James Gavin in the aforementioned volume Intimate Nights also mentions on page 136 that while Mr. Dennis was in New York during the 1950s, Matt Dennis, Bobby Short and Sylvia Syms often played at nightclubs such as:
  • The Red Carpet
  • Tender Trap
  • Arpeggio
  • Quadrille
  • La Commedia
  • Chi-Chi
  • The Living Room

Some famous musicians he worked with include:

  • Martha Tilton (Dennis was at one time her arranger, accompanist, vocal coach)
  • The Stafford Sisters, with Jo Stafford
  • Margaret Whiting
  • The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (Dennis was hired as staff arranger and composer, and while Frank Sinatra worked with this band, he recorded one of Dennis’s songs, “Everything Happens To Me,” which became an early Sinatra hit.)
  • Dick Haymes (after Dennis returned from service in the Air Force during World War II, he worked with Dick Haymes writing music for use on network radio programs produced in New York, including The Auto-Lite Opera Show.)
  • Glenn Miller (from the New York Times article we learn that “During World War II he played with Glenn Miller’s Army Air Force Band. After the war he worked in radio and television, recorded for several labels and sang in nightclubs with his wife, Virginia Maxey Davis.”)
Mr. Dennis recorded, according to the AllMusic article, seven albums, while Wikipedia claims that he made six.  The titles of his albums as listed at AllMusic include:

Here are some Matt Dennis recordings from You Tube.  You can also look at yesterday’s cabaret blog post, where I included a You Tube video of his rendition of “Angel Eyes”:

“Everything Happens To Me”, from his album Dennis, Anyone?:

 

And “It Wasn’t The Stars That Thrilled Me”, here as a film clip from the 1953 film The Bigamist with Ida Lupino, Joan Fontaine and Edmund Gwenn, and sung and played by Matt Dennis, also recorded on his Matt Dennis Plays and Sings Matt Dennis album:

 

And this wonderful song, “Relax” from the album Dennis, Anyone?:

 

A final great tune, “Will You Still Be Mine?”, from the album Matt Dennis Plays and Sings Matt Dennis:

 

 

What are your favorite songs written or performed by Matt Dennis?  Did you have opportunity to see Matt Dennis entertain?  Do you have a memory of Matt Dennis?  Please leave a comment below and tell us about it–I would love to hear from you!

 

ps–The Cabaret Soiree Link Party will begin anew on Monday–you can visit anytime to click on the links and see what others have posted, or you can share your own recent cabaret blog or now website link every Monday through Thursday.  Link is below.

 


Till next time, 

Weekly Post Lineup At McElrath Cabaret:

Mondays:  Cabaret Soiree Cabaret Blog Link Party

Tuesdays:  Cabaret Tip Tuesday

Wednesdays:  Ask A Cabaret Question

Thursdays:  Featured Cabaret Blog, Website, Performer

Fridays:  Cabaret Through Time

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About Athena at McElrath Cabaret

Athena McElrath is an entertainer with a love for theatre and singing. She enjoys delving in the area of historical cabaret, researching the singers and clubs that were in business from before 1920 to the present, in New York and beyond.
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