Year By Year


Attends Woodberry Forest School in Orange, Virginia, where he was an active member of literary clubs and the choir.

ca. 1924

Writes his first song, “Sister Susie, Strut Your Stuff.”


Returns to Savannah to work for his father. Father suffers business losses and liquidates all of his personal assets in order to pay off his investors; he fails to pay off all the losses, but pledges to make good on the debts.


Joins a little theater group in Savannah. The group’s one-act play is selected as a semi-finalist in the Belasco Cup contest and earns them a trip to New York City.

Late 1920’s

Moves to New York City to become an actor; obtains some bit parts in Volpone, Houseparty, and Marco Millions, and at the same time takes odd jobs and writes songs.


Submits a song (“Out of Breath and Scared to Death of You”) for The Garrick Gaieties after being told that they didn’t need any more male actors; “Out of Breath” becomes his first published song.

Meets and begins to date Ginger Meehan, a dancer in the show.