In 1930, Ruth Etting starred in Ruth Selwyn’s unsuccessful musical Nine-Fifteen Revue which closed in New York in less than a week; however, she did introduce Ted Koehler’s and Harold Arlen’s great song Get Happy which became one of her most famous hit records. George Gershwin called her handling of the song “the most exciting finale he had ever heard in a theatre.” The song was Harold Arlen’s first hit.
Ted Koehler and Harold Arlen also wrote such memorable standards as Stormy Weather, I’ve Got the World on A String, Happy as the Day is Long, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues, and Let’s Fall in Love.
In addition to 9:15 Revue, Arlen and Koehler worked on the Broadway shows, Earl Carroll Vanities of 1930 and 1932, Americana, and Cotton Club Parade. And in Hollywood the two collaborated on the films Let’s Fall In Love, and Up in Arms.
Harold Arlen, in his lifetime, wrote over 400 popular songs including It’s Only A Paper Moon with E. Y. Harburg and Billy Rose, and Somewhere Over the Rainbow also with E.Y. Harburg, which was recently named the Number One Song of the Century. He also worked on some of the greatest film musicals of the era including The Wizard of Oz, Blues In the Night, Star Spangled Rhythm, Cabin In the Sky, Kismet, My Blue Heaven, Gay Purr-ee, Down Among the Sheltering Palms and A Star is Born.
Ted Koehler went on to write for the broadway show, Say When, and later on in Hollywood he worked on quite a few successful film musicals including Manhattan Parade, King of Burlesque, The Big Show, Happy-Go-Lucky, Dimples, 23 Hours Leave, The King and the Chorus Girl, Artists & Models, Springtime In the Rockies, Start Cheering, Hollywood Canteen, Rainbow Island, San Antonio, Week-End At the Waldorf, Earl Carroll Sketchbook, Janie Gets Married, Cheyenne, and Summer Stock and Glory.
The image above of Ted Koehler, an unidentified man, Ruth Etting, and Harold Arlen, has “circa 1933″ written in the border, but I suspect it was actually taken in 1930, during the short run of 9:15 Revue, or soon after. While Ruth Etting went on to sing other songs written by either Arlen or by Koehler, Get Happy is the only song she ever recorded by the two of them together.