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Brief biography


Work list



Timeline of Hoagy Carmichael's Life
from the hoagy.com web site.


On November 22nd, Hoagland Howard Carmichael is born in Bloomington, Indiana, as the first child of Howard Clyde and Lida Mary (Robison) Carmichael.


Hoagland moves to Indianapolis with his family, where he meets 24-year-old black pianist Reggie DuValle, who stimulates his interest in the emerging jazz music and gives him piano lessons. DuValle says: "Never play anything that isn't right. You may never make a lot of money... but you will never get hostile with yourself!"


Hoagland attends Indiana University and forms his own small jazz band, eventually named "Carmichael's Collegians," which makes him a campus celebrity.


His collegiate girlfriend gives him the nickname "Hoagy."


Hoagy meets 19-year-old cornetist Leon "Bix" Beiderbecke, who becomes a cherished friend as well as an enormous musical inspiration for many years.


Hoagy's earliest surviving composition, Riverboat Shuffle, is recorded by the Wolverine Orchestra, Beiderbecke's rising jazz band. That same year, Hoagy makes his first recordings at Gennett Records in Richmond, Indiana.


Hoagy gets his law degree from Indiana University and begins his long time association with leading New York Music Publisher, Mills Music. He pens Boneyard Shuffle and Washboard Blues.


While working as a law clerk (for the firm Carmichael and Carmichael... no relation!) in West Palm Beach, Florida, he happens to hear a sidewalk phonograph playing Red Nichols' version of his song Washboard Blues, at which point he decided to abandon law and make music his life. On October 31st, Hoagy records Star Dust with his band for the first time.


Mills Music publishes Stardust (now a one-word title). Hoagy begins recording for Victor Records, an association that lasts through 1934. He also writes Manhattan Rag, March of the Hoodlums, One Night in Havana and Rockin' Chair.


Prompted by band leader Frank Trumbauer, Hoagy writes the classic Georgia on My Mind with lyrical help from roommate Stuart Gorrell. Its first recording was made on September 15th by Carmichael with a band that included Bix Beiderbecke in his last recording sessions. Hoagy also composes another wonderful piece, Barbaric.


Hoagy is admitted to ASCAP, signifying his acceptance in the song writing fraternity. He composes Come Easy Go Easy Love and the now standard Lazy River. Also, Hoagy's mentor Bix Beiderbecke dies, and as a result, Hoagy becomes temporarily discouraged about jazz.


Hoagy writes After Twelve O'Clock, Charlie Two-Step, Daybreak, In the Still of the Night, Sing it Way Down Low and Thanksgiving.


Hoagy collaborates with a struggling lyricist named Johnny Mercer. They begin a long and fruitful association, collaborating on three dozen songs, the first of which is Lazybones which Carmichael says they wrote in 20 minutes! New Orleans, Old Man Harlem, One Morning in May, and Snowball are penned the same year.


Hoagy composes Down to Uncle Bill's, Old Skipper and Judy, the song from which a young Frances Gumm soon takes her stage name... She changes her last name to "Garland."


Hoagy composes Moonburn which is included the following year in Warner Bros. Pictures' film Anything Goes. He also writes the popular Ballad in Blue, Mister Bluebird, My Introduction to Love, Pagan Star, Song of Spring, Wedding Song and the almost unknown Bread and Gravy, of which only three recordings have been made.


For the first time, Hoagy has one of his songs, Little Old Lady, included in a Broadway musical, The Show is On, which becomes a hit. He also composes Papa Treetop Tall and the Ella Fitzgerald classic Sing Me a Swing Song (And Let Me Dance).


Hoagy marries Ruth Meinardi, a young model, in New York City where they lived. Hoagy joins Paramount Pictures as a staff songwriter and also appears in his first film role in Topper, with Cary Grant and Constance Bennett, performing his own composition Old Man Moon. That same year, he also writes April in My Heart, Chimes of Indiana, I Met Him in Paris, Jubilee and the classic The Nearness of You, which is featured in the Paramount motion picture Romance in the Dark.


Hoagy collaborates with Frank Loesser on Heart and Soul (which every child seems to know how to plink out on the piano), Small Fry and Two Sleepy People, the latter of which is featured in Bob Hope's film Thanks for the Memory. He also composes College Swing, Kinda Lonesome, Men With Wings (from the Paramount film of the same name), Say it in French and I Get Along Without You Very Well (Except Sometimes). This last song is from a poem handed to him on a scrap of paper signed only "J.B." Carmichael makes a national plea for the author to step forward, even enlisting the help of top newspaper columnist and radio personality Walter Winchell, but only imposters turn up. Finally, the author is located in Philadelphia: Mrs. Jane Brown Thompson. Sadly, Mrs. Brown passes away the night before the song is introduced by Dick Powell on national radio. Also, Hoagy's first son is born, Hoagy Bix Carmichael.


Hoagy and Ruth move to Hollywood. Hoagy writes the elegant Blue Orchids and the popular Hong Kong Blues in addition to Poor Old Joe, That's Right-I'm Wrong and Vagabond Dreams.


Hoagy teams up with Johnny Mercer to write the Broadway musical Walk With Music. While the show has many good songs, including I Walk With Music, The Rhumba Jumps, Way Back in 1939 AD, What'll They Think of Next? and Ooh What You Said, it runs only three weeks. Other songs composed this year include Even if I Say it Myself, Break it Up Cinderella, Everything Happens to Me, Friend of the Family, How Nice for Me, Manhattan in the Spring and the sentimental tribute to his home state, Can't Get Indiana Off My Mind. Hoagy's second son, Randy Bob Carmichael (named after the movie actor Randolph Scott) is born.


Hoagy is paired again with Johnny Mercer to write one of their most accomplished compositions, Skylark. Hoagy also composes Boy, Oh Boy. The songs Calliope Jane, I Should Have Known You Years Ago and Yum!Yum! are written for the United Artist film Road Show. While I'll Dance At Your Wedding (Honey Dear), We're the Couple in the Castle and Katy-Did, Katy-Didn't are from Paramount's Mr. Bug Goes to Town.


The Lamplighter's Serenade, an early collaboration with Paul Francis Webster, proves to be Frank Sinatra's solo performing debut on records. Other songs from this year include, The Army of Hippocrates, Don't Forget to Say No Baby, Drip Drop, and Baltimore Oriole, which becomes Hoagy's personal favorite.


Mister Pollyanna, The Old Music Master and There She Was are composed for Paramount's True to Life. Hands Across the Border, Old Master Painter and I'm Only Happy, That's All are also written this year.


Hong Kong Blues and How Little We Know are featured in the Warner Bros. film To Have and Have Not starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. This also marks Hoagy's feature film debut as an actor. The same year, he writes My Christmas Song for You and When Love Walks By.


Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief is introduced by Betty Hutton in Paramount's musical extravaganza The Stork Club, and becomes a signature tune for her. Memphis in June is performed by Hoagy himself in the RKO film Johnny Angel starring George Raft. No More Toujours L'Amours is also written at this time.


Hoagy publishes his first book of memoirs, The Stardust Road. He is signed to play Hi Linnet in Universal's western Canyon Passage with Dana Andrew and Susan Hayward. For this film he composes I'm Gonna Get Married in the Morning, Rogue River Valley, Silver Saddle, and the Academy Award nominated Ole Buttermilk Sky. 1946 is also the year Hoagy wins accolades for his appearance in the classic RKO drama Best Years of Our Lives.


Ivy, Put Yourself in My Place Baby and Things Have Changed are all written for the Universal Pictures film Ivy starring Joan Fontaine. Who Killed 'Er (Who Killed The Black Widder?) and Casanova Cricket are two more Hoagy songs from another film, RKO's Night Song, which also features Hoagy with Dana Andrew and Ethel Barrymore.


Bubble-Loo, Just a Shade on the Blue Side, The Sad Cowboy, Take Me to Your Heart Again and Too Much-a Manana are all written.


Brown County in Autumn, Follow the Swallow to Hide-a-Way Hollow, Grandma Teeter-Totter, If You Don't Love Me and The Three Rivers (The Allegheny, Susquehanna and the Monongahela) are composed by Hoagy at this time.


Hoagy receives praise for his performance with Kirk Douglas, Lauren Bacall and Doris Day in Warner Bros. Picture's Young Man With a Horn. Wait Till You See Me in the Morning and A Woman Likes to Be Told are written this year.


In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening, performed by Bing Crosby in Paramount's Here Comes the Groom finally wins Hoagy his long-awaited Oscar. This same year, Hoagy composes My Resistance is Low which is features in the following year in RKO's Las Vegas Story starring Jane Russel, Victor Mature and Hoagy himself. When the Frost is on the Punkin' is yet another Hoagy song of this year.


Hoagy stars with Jeanne Crain and Myrna Loy in 20th Century Fox's Belles on Their Toes. He also composes Watermelon Weather, a duet for Bing Crosby and Eddie Fisher. Carmichael scores a Hole-in-One playing golf at the Bel Aire Country Club. After cheering dies he exclaims: "Wait, let me hit another; I think I've got it!"


Ain't There Anyone Here for Love? and When Love Goes Wrong, Nothing Goes Right, are featured in the Marilyn Monroe/Jane Russell romp Gentlemen Prefer Blondes for 20th Century Fox. I Guess it Was You All the Time is featured in Paramount's Those Redheads From Seattle. Love Will Soon Be Here is also composed, and Hoagy becomes TV host for the variety program The Saturday Night Revue, a summer replacement for Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows.


Hoagy appears with Sterling Hayden in Republic Pictures' Timberjack, for which he writes the humorous He's Dead But He Won't Lie Down.


Hoagy and his wife Ruth file for divorce.


Hoagy writes fifteen songs for children; The Whale Song and Merry Go Round among them.


Hoagy takes a straight dramatic role as Jonesy, the hired ranch hand, on the western series Laramie.


Ray Charles achieves success with his revival of Hoagy's Georgia on My Mind.


Hoagy writes A Perfect Paris Night.


Hoagy revamps A Perfect Paris Night with a change of lyric, and it now becomes Just for Tonight.


Hoagy writes his great twenty minute tribute to the Midwest: The Johnny Appleseed Suite. He also composes There Goes Another Pal of Mine.


Hoagy publishes his second book of memoirs, Sometimes I Wonder. Peggy Lee, sitting on an airplane with Hoagy, gives him the title for the book.


Hoagy is elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame as one of the ten initial inductees.


Indiana University awards Hoagy with an honorary doctorate degree.


Hoagy marries Dorothy Wanda McKay, culminating what was termed "a long courtship." He and his bride live in Rancho Mirage, California, near Palm Springs, where he spends much of his time playing golf and practicing his hobby, coin collecting.


On June 27th, the Newport Jazz Festival honors Hoagy with a tribute at Carnegie Hall in New York, "The Star Dust Road: A Hoagy Carmichael Jubilee."


Just after Christmas, on December 27th, Hoagy passes away at the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage after suffering a heart attack.

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Last Updated: 18 May 2017
URL: http://www.dlib.indiana.edu/collections/hoagy/research/timeline/index.html
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