1884 – 1947
Who was Bert Kalmar?
Kalmar, a native of New York City, left school at an early age and began working in vaudeville. He appeared on stage as a magician, comedian and dancer before switching to songwriting after a knee injury ended his performing career. By this time he had earned enough to start a music publishing company, Kalmar and Puck, where he collaborated with a number of songwriters, including Harry Ruby.
By 1918 Kalmar and Ruby had formed a permanent songwriting team. Together, they wrote the musical score for the Marx Brothers' stage production of Animal Crackers and subsequent film version. Their songs were also featured in the Marx Brothers' films Horse Feathers and Duck Soup. Kalmar's partnership with Ruby was portrayed in the 1950 MGM musical Three Little Words, starring Fred Astaire and Red Skelton. Kalmar did, however, occasionally work with Oscar Hammerstein II, Ted Snyder and other songwriters.