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Harry Richman Collection

Best known for introducing Irving Berlin's hit "Puttin' On the Ritz" in the 1931 movie of the same title, Harry Richman was a musician that lived life to it's fullest.

14 old time radio show recordings
(total playtime 4 hours, 20 min)
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1 MP3 CD
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5 Audio CDs


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Play a sample episode from July 17, 1937:

"Love Parade, Lee Wiley"



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Text on OTRCAT.com ©2001-2020 OTRCAT INC All Rights Reserved. Reproduction is prohibited.

Harry RichmanAbout Harry Richman:

Songman Harry Richman did very well for himself. The son of Russian Jewish immigrants, Harry was a veteran Vaudeville performer by the time he was 18, and had been piano accompanist for stars like Mae West and Nora Bayes. He debuted on Broadway in 1922, and appeared in several versions of the Scandals revue and The Ziegfeld Follies.

Harry RichmanHarry really hit the big time when he introduced Irving Berlin's hit “Puttin' On the Ritz” in the 1931 movie of the same title. Several other artists, including Fred Astaire, have had hits with the song, but Harry really made it his own. Once he had his fortune, Harry became a bit of a playboy adventurer. Sometimes with less than happy results.

In 1931, Harry bought a 36 foot motor yacht named Chevalier II. One summer day he docked in Long Island, bought 140 gallons of fuel, hired a pilot and invited some of his friends from the Follies for a day of sunshine and fishing. It is unclear whether Harry or the hired skipper pushed the starter button, but the blast when the gasoline fumes was heard for miles. Most of the passengers were either near a hatch and blown over the side, or safely on deck, but Follies starlet Helen Walsh was below in the cabin. Hearing her screams, Richman and another passenger fought through the flames to reach her. Harry took Helen over his shoulder, carried her to the deck and tossed her to safety before jumping in after her. Doctors thought that she would survive her injuries, but the toxins from the smoke took her that night. Thinking she would be fine, a bandaged Harry performed that night.

Richman was a minor force in show business in the early decades of the Twentieth century. An Ohio Jew, his showbiz career began as a piano player in a Cleveland saloon at the age of ten. He soon entered vaudeville and for a time was the highest paid performer in the industry. He invested in a nightclub called Club Richman, which was a speakeasy near Carnegie Hall. He got the call from Hollywood to star in an early sound picture, Puttin' On the Ritz (1930) which introduced the Irving Berlin composed title song. The Dodge Automobile company sponsored a radio program from his club in 1936.  In 1935, Harry appeared on The Shell Chateau, hosted by Wallace Beery and showcases several of his show hits, including “Puttin' on The Ritz”.

An adventure with better results occurred in 1936 when Harry met flier Dick Merrill after a show in Miami. Since Harry had recently achieved his pilot certification, Merrill “planted” the idea for a trans-Atlantic flight. To this point, no one had done a round trip flight, so Harry told Dick to find an airplane. They got hold of the Vultee that Jimmy Doolittle had used in 1935 to set a transcontinental record in 1935, and began modifying it for their adventure. Richman thought it was a good idea to fill every empty space they could find on the aircraft with ping pong balls to use as flotation should they be forced to ditch. The flight cost Richman $360,000 and came off without a hitch. He sold autographed ping pong balls for years afterwards.

Harry used his show business earnings in doing his best to suck the marrow out of life. While appearing as the Master of Ceremonies of the 1931 Ziegfeld Follies, he bought a 36-foot twin-screw motor yacht named Chevalier II. Naturally, the boat was used to entertain showbiz friends and showgirls from the Follies. One morning in July 1931, Richman had the boat topped off with 140 gallons of gasoline. After his guests made themselves comfortable, the pilot arrived. When the starter button was pushed (no one is sure if the pilot or Richman engaged the starter) the boat exploded. Many of the guests were blown over the side but Helen Walsh, widely regarded as "the prettiest girl in the 1931 Follies" was trapped below decks. Harry and another guest fought their way through the flames, brought Helen on deck, tossed her into the water and jumped in after her. She died in the hospital three days earlier.

Harry Richman and Dick Marrill

On September 2, 1936, Merrill and copilot Richman made the fastest Atlantic-crossing to date, 18 hours and 36 minutes, although they were forced down in Wales by bad weather. The proceeded to London and began the return leg on September 14, this time into the wind. At some point in the flight, Merrill made a comment which caused Harry to panic and pull a lever which dumped most of their fuel into the Atlantic. With considerable skill, Merrill set the plane down in a bog in Nova Scotia. Passengers claimed to not even realize there had been a crash, the minor damage to the plane was repaired and they triumphantly flew into New York a couple of weeks later.

The "Ping Pong Flight" nearly ended as tragically. In 1936, with the ink on his pilot's license barely dry and having taken delivery of a Vultee V-1 retired from American Airlines, Harry was delighted to spot record-holding airmail pilot Dick Merrill in the audience. Richman was performing in Miami Beach and Merrill was flying mail on the NY-Miami route. Harry began bragging about his new toy, inviting Merrill to come see it and joking that they could "take the plane to Europe... then we'll gas her up and fly her back. It's never been done." Merrill had been planning just such a stunt for some time but could not find financing. Pretty soon serious planning for the flight began. Eddie Rickenbacker of Eastern Airlines had his mechanic upgrade the Vultee with larger tanks and a stronger engine and Harry stashed thousands of ping pong balls in empty spaces for emergency floatation (after the flight, he autographed and sold the balls as souvenirs, they occasionally still appear on eBay).

After the “Ping Pong Flight”, the Florida Citrus Growers hired Harry to host a syndicated program entitled It's Florida's Treat. The 15 minute spots had an extended music interlude for the local announcer and featured variety fare with some great musical and comic guests like Pick and Pat, Mildred Bailey, Cliff Edwards, Connie Boswell and others.

Richman was Lucille Ball's guest on Mail Call in 1943, showing that his act still had appeal. Harry got it right when he titled his autobiography in 1966: A Hell Of A Life.

It's Flordia Treat Broadcasts

The "It's Florida's Treat Starring Harry Richman"  broadcasts were quarter-hour plug for Florida Citrus and Tourism, Florida's Treat was hosted by one of Showbiz's great adventurers, Harry Richman.  

Harry RichmanAnyone who has endured the slush and snow of a Northern winter knows the dream of putting it all behind and winging to sunny Florida where the citrus is sweet, and the sun never stops shining.

Naturally, Florida had plenty of problems during the late 1930s, but the citrus growers and the folks tasked with attracting tourists did all they could to make us forget them. In addition to glossy magazine ads, one of the tools they used to get out the message was a syndicated radio program called It's Florida's Treat starring vaudeville funnyman Harry Richman.

The show has a predictable format which has been used in dozens of syndications. After the announcer gives the show's title the orchestra (in this case Buddy Rich's outfit) plays an instrumental for a minute or two, which is entertaining and gives the local station's announcer time to insert a message. The host greets the audience and puts out some patter on the sponsor's message in the form of a very short sketch with the Guest Star. The Guest does a number and follows up by coaxing the host into performing, then they have some more banter extolling the virtues of the sponsor's message, here it will be how sunny and friendly visitors will find the state or how indescribably sweet the orange juice is. The guest has to be convinced that they owe the audience another number, some more patter, and then another extended instrumental number.

Florida's Treat sometimes introduces Harry as the "Transatlantic Troubadour" and Connie Boswell quips that she wouldn't trust anyone who "double-crossed an ocean!" Harry Richman was a performer who did his best to suck the marrow out of life, to the point that he was broke during the last years of his life. In an interview in 1970, he claimed, "Back in the old days, I could walk out of some of the best joints in New York with a beautiful broad on each arm. Nowadays, I walk out of the supermarket with a shopping bag on each arm." Harry Richman passed away in Hollywood after a string of illnesses on November 3, 1972.

Text on OTRCAT.com ©2001-2020 OTRCAT INC All Rights Reserved. Reproduction is prohibited.

These classic recordings are available in the following formats:

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  • MP3 CDs are delivered by mail. These archival quality MP3 CDs are playable in your computer and many MP3 player devices.



    14 recordings on 1 MP3 CD for just $5.00
    total playtime 4 hours, 20 min
    Add MP3 CD Collection to Cart

    Click here to see disc contents


      14 shows - total playtime 4 hours 20 minutes
      1. Harry Richman Dodge 360112 09 Lets Go.mp3
      2. Harry Richman Dodge 360116 04 Thanks Million.mp3
      3. Harry Richman Dodge 360116 08 Its Dangerous To Love.mp3
      4. Harry Richman Dodge 360122 07 Broken Record.mp3
      5. Harry Richman Floridas Treat 1937 Got Rhythm Connie Boswell.mp3
      6. Harry Richman Floridas Treat 1937 Keep Sunny Side Up L.Wiley.mp3
      7. Harry Richman Floridas Treat 1937 Lady Of Spain, C.Edwards.mp3
      8. Harry Richman Floridas Treat 1937 Liza, Pick And Pat.mp3
      9. Harry Richman Floridas Treat 1937 Louisina Hayride C.Edwards.mp3
      10. Harry Richman Floridas Treat 1937 Love Parade Lee Wiley.mp3
      11. Harry Richman Floridas Treat 1937 Mimi, Mildred Bailey.mp3
      12. Harry Richman Floridas Treat 1937 Song Vagabonds Pick Pat.mp3
      13. Mail Call 431124 066 L.Ball Harry Richman, K.Thompson.mp3
      14. Shell Chateau 351012 028 Wallace Beery.mp3
  • MP3 downloads are available instantly after purchase!



    14 recordings on 1 MP3 Collection Download for just $5.00
    total playtime 4 hours, 20 min
    Add MP3 CD Collection to Cart

    Click here to see disc contents


      14 shows - total playtime 4 hours 20 minutes
      1. Harry Richman Dodge 360112 09 Lets Go.mp3
      2. Harry Richman Dodge 360116 04 Thanks Million.mp3
      3. Harry Richman Dodge 360116 08 Its Dangerous To Love.mp3
      4. Harry Richman Dodge 360122 07 Broken Record.mp3
      5. Harry Richman Floridas Treat 1937 Got Rhythm Connie Boswell.mp3
      6. Harry Richman Floridas Treat 1937 Keep Sunny Side Up L.Wiley.mp3
      7. Harry Richman Floridas Treat 1937 Lady Of Spain, C.Edwards.mp3
      8. Harry Richman Floridas Treat 1937 Liza, Pick And Pat.mp3
      9. Harry Richman Floridas Treat 1937 Louisina Hayride C.Edwards.mp3
      10. Harry Richman Floridas Treat 1937 Love Parade Lee Wiley.mp3
      11. Harry Richman Floridas Treat 1937 Mimi, Mildred Bailey.mp3
      12. Harry Richman Floridas Treat 1937 Song Vagabonds Pick Pat.mp3
      13. Mail Call 431124 066 L.Ball Harry Richman, K.Thompson.mp3
      14. Shell Chateau 351012 028 Wallace Beery.mp3
  • Standard Audio CDs are delivered by mail on archival quality media with up to 60 minutes on each CD and play in all CD players



    14 recordings on 5 Audio CDs
    total playtime 4 hours, 20 min

    Harry Richman Disc A001

    1. Harry Richman Floridas Treat 1937 Got Rhythm Connie Boswell
    2. Harry Richman Floridas Treat 1937 Keep Sunny Side Up L.Wiley
    3. Harry Richman Floridas Treat 1937 Lady Of Spain, C.Edwards
    4. Harry Richman Floridas Treat 1937 Liza, Pick And Pat

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Harry Richman Disc A002

    1. Harry Richman Floridas Treat 1937 Louisina Hayride C.Edwards
    2. Harry Richman Floridas Treat 1937 Love Parade Lee Wiley
    3. Harry Richman Floridas Treat 1937 Mimi, Mildred Bailey
    4. Harry Richman Floridas Treat 1937 Song Vagabonds Pick Pat

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Harry Richman Disc A003

    1. Shell Chateau 351012 028 Wallace Beery

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Harry Richman Disc A004

    1. Harry Richman Dodge 360112 09 Lets Go
    2. Harry Richman Dodge 360116 04 Thanks Million
    3. Harry Richman Dodge 360116 08 Its Dangerous To Love
    4. Harry Richman Dodge 360122 07 Broken Record

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Harry Richman Disc A005

    1. Mail Call 431124 066 L.Ball Harry Richman, K.Thompson

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
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