Texas Guinan's Moon-Maid
October, the month of the Harvest Moon, is a perfect time to commemorate a very close friend of Texas Guinan: Nora Bayes.
• • The Harvest Moon is always the first full moon after the Autumnal Equinox. It rose this year on October 6th.
• • The oldest recorded MOON song of this century, and the most popular of all the lunar tunes, is "Shine On Harvest Moon" written in 1903 by Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth. [Note: The original sheet music of this song is owned by Sir Paul McCartney.]
• • Requested often at night clubs run by Texas Guinan, this chart-topper, Ruth Etting's trademark tune, was sung by many vocalists and has been beamed into the soundtrack of dozens of films including "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn."
• • YouTube features Oliver Hardy singing "Shine on Harvest Moon."
• • CHORUS • •
Shine on, shine on harvest moon
Up in the sky,
I ain't had no lovin'
Since January, February, June or July
Snow time ain't no time to stay
Outdoors and spoon,
So shine on, shine on harvest moon,
For me and my gal.
• • In 1944, a more-fiction-than-fact film was released: Shine On, Harvest Moon. By then, Nora was long dead. In March 1928, she died suddenly, at age 48, in a Brooklyn hospital after cancer surgery. Jack Norworth and his ambitious new missus managed to get a screenplay produced that glorifies his achievements, while downplaying Nora's phenomenal career - - non-stop success that began in 1899 when the charismatic beauty was 19 years old.
• • MOVIE PLOT - - Complete with a final production number filmed in Technicolor, this tuneful musical depicts the highly fictive ups and downs of fabled vaudeville headliners Jack Norworth [1879-1959] and Nora Bayes [1880-1928]. After rejecting a partnership with songstress Blanche Mallory (Irene Manning), Jack Norworth (Dennis Morgan) discovers Nora Bayes (Ann Sheridan), who is wasting her considerable vocal talents by working in a honkytonk. Jack convinces the girl to become his partner . . . . blah-blah-blah. Despite setbacks, the talented husband-and-wife duo finagles an engagement with the 1907 edition of the Ziegfeld Follies and vows the audiences with Jack's newest composition, the lilting "Shine on Harvest Moon."
• • In reality, in 1903 Jack Norworth met the already quite famous 23-year-old singing comedienne Nora Bayes at the office of a music publisher. In 1908, Jack Norworth became one of her five husbands, and moved into her house [624 West End Avenue].
• • Texas Guinan was stricken with grief at her friend's untimely demise. Nora Bayes deserves more space here, and she will get it. Meanwhile, Texas Guinan says: Shine on, shine on, dear harvest moon-maid.
• • photo: Texas Guinan's friend • • Nora Bayes • • 1912 • •