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Harry Von Tilzer
Birth: Jul. 8, 1872
Detroit
Wayne County
Michigan, USA
Death: Jan. 10, 1946
Manhattan
New York County (Manhattan)
New York, USA

Songwriter, Publisher. One of the most popular and prolific songwriters of the Tin Pan Alley era. Born Aaron Gumbinsky, the eldest of five brothers (one of whom would become songwriter Albert Von Tilzer), the family soon shortened their name to Gumm when they moved from Detroit to Indianapolis, Indiana. His father opened a shoe store and Harry was first introduced to show business through the theatrical company that performed in the space above the store. He left home at 14 to join the Cole Brothers Circus, performing as a tumbler and singer. Within a year, he joined a traveling repertory company playing juvenile stage roles and, in his spare time, writing songs. His first published song, "I Love You Both", came in 1892. It was not a popular success, but showed enough promise that his fellow performers encouraged him to move to New York City. He went with only $1.65 in his pocket and earned his train fare by working as a groom, tending to and cleaning up after a carload of horses on the trip. For the next several years, he found work playing piano and singing in saloons, eventually finding roles in vaudeville and burlesque shows. Around this time he decided his last name was too ordinary for the stage and took his mother's maiden name, Tilzer, adding the Von to "gussie it up". He continued to write songs and although some were performed and even purchased (for $1 or $2) by other entertainers, he failed to have any published. But in 1898, an act of desperation finally launched his career. Low on money and facing eviction from their apartment, he and his roommate, lyricist Andrew Sterling, took the eviction notice and on the back, wrote what was to become "My Old New Hampshire Home". They sold the song to a publishing house for $10 and it went on to sell over a million copies. When that publisher was bought out by a new firm, they were so impressed with Harry's talent that they offered him a job writing songs exclusively for them and a full partnership in the company. He had great successes with "I'd Leave My Happy Home For You" (lyrics Will Heelan), "Where The Sweet Magnolias Grow" and "A Bird In A Gilded Cage" (lyrics Andrew Sterling). With his reputation secured, in 1902 he formed his own publishing company, The Harry Von Tilzer Music Company, which would become one of the most respected in the business, publishing thousands of songs and discovering new talent such as Irving Berlin and George Gershwin. From 1902 to 1926, the Von Tilzer songbook would produce hits such as "Down Where The Wurzberger Flows" (lyrics Vincent Bryan), "Wait Till The Sun Shines, Nellie" (lyrics Jack Norworth), "In the Sweet Bye and Bye" (lyrics Vincent Bryan), "The Mansion of Aching Hearts" (lyrics Andrew Sterling), "What You Goin' Do When the Rent Comes ‘Round?" (lyrics Andrew Sterling), "Down Where The Cotton Blossoms Grow" (lyrics Andrew Sterling), "And The Green Grass Grew All Around" (lyrics William Jerome) and "I Want A Girl Just Like The Girl That Married Dear Old Dad" (lyrics Will Dillon). According to some sources, after 1926 "he never quite caught on to the tempo of the tough twenties and the later sophistication of jazz and swing" and retired to run his publishing house. He spent his last years living in the Hotel Woodward in New York City and was found dead in his rooms at age 74. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970. (bio by: TomDuse) 
 
Family links: 
 Spouse:
  Ida Von Tilzer (____ - 1930)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Mount Carmel Cemetery
Glendale
Queens County
New York, USA
Plot: 1-B-16-520-2
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: TomDuse
Record added: Jan 24, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 47039796
Harry Von Tilzer
Added by: TomDuse
 
Harry Von Tilzer
Added by: TomDuse
 
Harry Von Tilzer
Added by: TomDuse
 
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- Cindy
 Added: Jul. 8, 2014

- Ryan Curtis
 Added: Jul. 8, 2014
Rest in peace
- Cindy
 Added: Jan. 10, 2014
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