Those masculine women and feminine men!
The name “Frank Harris” is used for Kaufman on this recording made on January 29, 1926.
Lyrics are by Edgar Leslie, music by James V. Monaco.
The tenor Irving Kaufman (8 February 1890 – 3 January 1976) was probably the most recorded singer between 1914 to 1930, his busiest years being in the late 1920s.
- He began his career by making records as a featured singer but in the mid- to late 1920s he also contributed vocal refrains to dance band recordings for many labels.
- Labels of some band dance records give credit to Irving Kaufman but pseudonyms were also frequently used. On many labels the simple phrase “vocal chorus” is used, with no name given for the singer.
Kaufman reported years later that the major companies gave permission for him to record for smaller firms as long as pseudonyms were used. In fact, Columbia was the only major company to engage Kaufman regularly in the late 1920s (by this time he no longer made Victor records; he did not work for Brunswick aside from making one disc).
- Columbia itself employed various pseudonyms for the singer. Kaufman rarely knew at the time he attended a session what name would be used on a label afterwards.
- Jim Walsh wrote in the November 1962 issue of Hobbies that when Kaufman’s wife would ask, “Well, who are you going to be today–George Beaver, Frank Harris, or who?” the reply was, “What do you care, as long as the check is made out to Irving Kaufman?”
Kaufman said in a 1974 interview published in John and Susan Edwards Harvith’s Edison, Musicians, and the Phonograph (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1987), “I had so many different voices that half of the time my wife would say, ‘Who are you going to be today?’ I would say, ‘I won’t know until I get to the studio.'”
- He was born Isidore Kaufman to Barnett and Lena (Cohn) Kaufman in Syracuse, New York. His father was a Russian immigrant who made a living as a butcher. Irving was the youngest of seven children. His siblings were Jacob (“Jack”), Harry, Charles, Phillip, Ida, and Tillie. Jack and Phillip also made recordings.
Announcing Kaufman as an exclusive Emerson artist, page 44 of the October 1919 issue of Talking Machine World gives this background information: “Irving Kaufman…started his career as an entertainer when only eight years of age. He was then a boy tenor with the ‘Jenny Eddy Trio,’ and a few years later was the principal soloist with Merrick’s Band of fifty pieces, which accompanied the celebrated Forepaugh and Sells Circus.”
Irving had little formal education. Before reaching his teen years, he joined the Forepaugh and Sells Brothers Circus and sang during acts as a circus band played. A few years later he sang in movie theaters between silent films being screened. In 1911 in New York City he worked as a song plugger for the sheet music giant Leo. Feist, Inc.
His first record was a Blue Amberol cylinder issued in July 1914, “I Love the Ladies” (2328), composed by Jean Schwartz.