The Battle of the Alamo began on this date in 1836. In the Muse remembers this fight for independence with our Sheet Music of the Week, penned by Percy Wenrich and Ben Deely. The songwriters’ grasp of the actual battle seems tenuous , as Deely’s lyrics appear to riff on “Alamo” simply because, unlike “orange,” it’s such a fun and easy word with which to rhyme. Read more about the Alamo on Today in History in American Memory.
My research for In the Muse has often begun as a search for one thing and ended as the discovery of something very different, and in this case, a long way from the Alamo.
“Alamo Rag” was a feature for Wenrich’s wife, vaudeville star Dolly Connolly. Advertisements for the couples’ appearances are scattered throughout Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. In these virtual pages you can even find the precise showtimes for their November 5, 1921 performance at the Chestnut St. Opera House in Philadelphia. The husband and wife act were sandwiched between Bert Melrose, “a famous international clown,” and the comedy team of Whipple and Huston, which consisted of Bayonne Whipple and Walter Huston, father of Maltese Falcon director John Huston and grandfather of actress Angelica Huston.
The time alloted for the respective performances reflects their place in history: Connolly and Wenrich are alloted eight minutes; the clown, twelve minutes; and Whipple and Huston, a full half hour. Find more announcements for Connolly and Wenrich appearances in New York and Washington in Chronicling America. A biography of Wenrich on the site Parlor Songs sadly notes that Wenrich retired from vaudeville after committing his wife to a sanitarium.