Saturday, October 28, 1972

50 years ago: “Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Shean” hit #1

Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Shean

Ed Gallagher & Al Shean

Writer(s): Ed Gallagher, Al Shean (see lyrics here)

First Charted: October 28, 1922

Peak: 16 US, 12 GA, 12 SM (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 1.0 (sheet music)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, -- video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The Ziegfeld Follies of 1922 focused on Will Rogers and Gilda Gray. While overall “the musical score was not particularly strong” TY2 it produced the memorable “Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Shean,” “comedy patter performed by a pair of dialect comedians who had been recruited from vaudeville.” TY2 Each verse of the song was presented as a mini-skit with with the titular men in the song meeting on the street, introducing themselves, telling a story, and ending with a joke. SM The jokes are “typical of the time but also lampoons current fads and events.” WK

That pair were Edward Francis Gallagher (born in 1873 in San Francisco) and Al Shean (born Abraham Elieser Adolph Schönberg in 1873 Dornum, Germany). They teamed up in 1912, split in 1914, and reunited in 1920. They became stars in vaudeville and the musical stage. They broke up again for good in 1925.

They were best known for their song “Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Shean,” with uncredited lyrics by Brian Foy. WK The song is officially called “Oh! Mister Gallagher and Mister Shean.” On record, it was a doubled-sided disc running over six minutes total. One side was titled “Positively Mr. Gallagher” and the other side called “Absolutely Mr. Shean.” It ran ten verses. SM

Their version reached #1 in 1922, as did another version by Billy Jones & Ernest Hare, although the latter only used two verses of the song. SM It was also recorded by Furman & Nash (#10, 1922), Irving & Jack Kaufman (#12, 1922), and Bing Crosby & Johnny Mercer (#7, 1938). PM Paul Whiteman and Benny Krueger’s orchestras also recorded the song. Al Shean performed the song with Charles Winninger in the movie musical The Great Ziegfeld (1941). Shean did the song again in 1944 with Jack Kenny in Atlantic City. Groucho Marx (Shean’s nephew) and Jackie Gleason performed a version for television in the late 1950s. WK


First posted 1/29/2023.

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