Biography

Harry Akst (August 15, 1894 – March 31, 1963) was an American songwriter who started out his career as a pianist in vaudeville accompanying singers such as Nora Bayes, Frank Fay and Al Jolson.

For four years, he worked for Bayes. Then in 1916, he enlisted in the army and was at Camp Upton when he met Irving Berlin (in 1921 they would write “Home Again Blues”). His most notable success came with the song he wrote in 1925 with Sam M. Lewis and Joe Young: “Dinah”. It would go on to multiple hit recordings by the likes of Bing Crosby, The Boswell Sisters, Ethel Waters, Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong, The Mills Brothers, Sam Donahue, and Ted Lewis.

His movie scores include Bulldog Drummond, The Squall, This Is Heaven, On With The Show, Broadway Babies, Mississippi Gambler, No, No, Nanette, Song of the West, The Song of the Flame, Lethernecking, Palmy Days, The Kid From Spain, Dinah, Professional Sweetheart, Glamour, Stand Up and Cheer!, change of Heart, The Silver Streak, Paddy O’Day, Star For A Night, Fight For Your Lady, Up the River, Battle of Broadway, Island in the Sky, Harvest Melody, Rosie the Riveter and This Time For Keeps.

Akst worked on the Broadway production of Artists and Models (1927), eventually moving to Hollywood to continue songwriting for Broadway musicals. He appeared as the rehearsal pianist “Gerry” in 42nd Street (1933).

Harry Akst died in Hollywood, California on March 31, 1963, at the age of 69.

Harry Akst was inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1983.

Edited by [deleted user] on 2 Jul 2010, 12:09

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