Thursday, August 23, 2018

Throwback Thursday Nostalgia Special: The Origin of "Sam, You Made the Pants Too Long"

In May 2002 Red Buttons delivered a tribute to Milton Berle at a memorial service for the great comedian at the Friars Club in New York City. The tribute was in the form of a song that got Berle started in his show business career. 

In 1932 Berle co-wrote a parody on a song that was very popular that year, Lawd, You Made the Night Too Long.

Here's the original, played and sung by Louis Armstrong.

Here's Buttons singing the parody the way Berle wrote it in 1932:

The most played version of the song is the one recorded by Barbra Streisand in her Color Me Barbra album in 1966: 

Allan Sherman also recorded it in 1966:

Diana Ross and the Supremes performed the song on TV in 1969:

And who do we have to credit for this? Uncle Miltie, for whom this parody was just a small episode at the start of his long comedy career. 

But the question that remains is "Who was Sam?"

According to Barry Popik, editor of The Big Apple website,
"Sam, You Made the Pants Too Long" (1932) is probably most familiar to audiences from singer Barbra Streisand. Comedian/singer Joe E. Lewis earlier had popularized the song.

The "Sam" in the song is not identified (one of the songwriters was named Sam), but it is probably Samuel Beckenstein, who ran a popular fabric and clothing store at 130 Orchard Street. Social Security Death Index records show a Samuel Beckenstein, born 5 June 1893 and who died December 1968.

The song does not specifically mention "New York City," and for that reason it was probably left out of Nancy Groce's book of New York City songs. However, the song breathes the atmosphere of the Jewish Lower East Side.
You made the coat and vest fit the best
You made the lining nice and strong
But Sam, you made the pants too long
You made the peak lapel look so swell
So who am I to say you're wrong?
But Sam, you made the pants too long

#Throwback Thursday   #TBT

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