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Founders Day Exhibit

Sammy Kaye

Sammy Kaye seated in front of group of Kayes Ohioans, all wearing the signature coat of the group


Sammy Kaye (1910-1987) was a highly popular bandleader in the 1930s, 40s. and 50s. He studied civil engineering on an athletic scholarship at Ohio University, graduating in 1932. After his graduation, Kaye concentrated on entertainment. He began playing one-nighters with the band he started at OU, eventually playing radio broadcasts and hotels in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, and later in top hotels in New York City. In the mid-1930s, he adopted the catchy slogan, "Now let's swing and sway with Sammy Kaye." He began broadcasting his radio program, "Sunday Serenade," in 1941, on which he would read amateur poetry--usually written by listeners--over a background of music. The show was aired weekly on NBC for over twelve years and was such a hit that Kaye published books of poetry from it. August 5, 1954 was the first airing of "So You want to Lead a Band," a half-hour show that was broadcast until January 27, 1955 on ABC TV.

Below are images of items in our Sammy Kaye collection. The first is a coat worn by members of Kayes Ohioans.


A Kayes Ohioans performance coat


Sammy Kaye also had his image associated with the Ritepoint Liter brand. Below is one such lighter in Alden Library's collection. The fuel reservoir was clear, enabling a picture of Sammy Kaye to float within the fuel. 


Ritepoint Liter with image of Sammy Kaye sitting in the empty fluid chamber


V-Discs were an initiative between the U.S. Government and record labels during World War II. Below in an example of a V-Disc that Sammy Kaye appeared on. Meant to help with soldier morale, these records were sent to military bases and ships all over the world.


VDisc with music by Sammy Kaye on it


In addition to the Ritepoint Liter above, Sammy Kaye was also associated with a children's toy called the Bobbie May Doll, which as the box states, was inspired by the music of Sammy Kaye and his orchestra. Both the head and dress move, in much the same way as a bobble head toy.


Box and Bobbie May Swing and Sway doll, a bobblehead toy


Also included in the Sammy Kaye Collection in Alden Library are over 50 boxes of handwritten scores that Sammy Kaye used during his career. The example below is the music to a song entitle 'Open Your Heart'.


handwritten sheet music to Open Your Heart, from Sammy Kaye collection