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Nora Bayes

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Nora Bayes (October 8, 1880 – June 19, 1928) was a popular Jewish American singer, comedienne and actress of the early 20th century.

Early life and career

Born Leonora Goldberg to a Jewish family in Joliet, Illinois, Bayes was performing professionally in vaudeville in Chicago by age 18. She toured from San Francisco, California to New York City and became a star both on the vaudeville circuit and the Broadway stage.

In 1908, she married singer-songwriter Jack Norworth. The two toured together and were credited for collaborating on a number of compositions, including the immensely popular "Shine On, Harvest Moon," which the pair debuted in Florenz Ziegfeld's Follies of 1908.

Bayes made many phonograph records (some with Norworth) for the Victor and Columbia labels. From 1924 through 1928, her accompanist was pianist Louis Alter, who later composed the popular songs "Manhattan Serenade," "Nina Never Knew" and "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?".

She established her own theater, The Nora Bayes Theater, on West 44th Street in New York.

Marriages and family

Bayes married five times. Her first husband was Otto Gressing, a Chicago businessman, and Norworth was her second. Husband number three was a dancer named Harry Clarke who also performed with her in vaudeville. Husband number four was New York business man Arthur Gordon. Her fifth and last husband was Benjamin Friedland, a garage owner.

Bayes bore no biological children in any of her marriages. However, she adopted three children.


In 1928, Nora Bayes was diagnosed with cancer and died following surgery. She was buried 18 years later with her fifth husband, Ben Friedland, in the Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York. On April 11, 2006, under the terms of the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, Nora Bayes was added to the National Recording Registry with the following citation:

"Over There," Nora Bayes (1917) - Inextricably associated in popular imagination with World War I, Nora Bayes’ recording introduced George M. Cohan’s song and became an international hit. Cohan had specifically requested that Bayes be the first singer to release his composition. A former member of the Ziegfeld Follies, an extremely popular vaudevillian and a Broadway star, she recorded a number of other songs to boost morale during the war and performed extensively for the soldiers.

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This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Nora Bayes. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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