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Nora Bayes

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Nora Bayes (1880 - 19 June 1928) was a popular United States entertainer of the early 20th century.

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 vaudeville and Broadway. She was an accomplished singer, comedian and actor.

In 1908, she married singer/songwriter Jack Norworth. The two toured together and were credited for collaborating on a number of tunes, including their huge hit 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 Talking Machine Company and Columbia Records. From 1924 through 1928, her accompanist was pianist Louis Alter, who later was the songwriter of such tunes as “Manhattan Serenade,” “Nina Never Knew” and “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?”

In 1928, Nora Bayes contracted cancer and died during surgery. She was buried 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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