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 Mickey Katz

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Mickey Katz

  • Birth 15 Jun 1909 Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, USA
  • Death 30 Apr 1985 Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
  • Burial Culver City, Los Angeles County, California, USA
  • Plot Valley of Remembrance, Block 1, Plot 196, Grave 2
  • Memorial ID 3830

Entertainer. Born in Cleveland, Ohio to immigrant parents, he began clarinet lessons at the age of 11, within two months he started playing amateur nights. Shortly after high school, he worked with a band in a local restaurant. He then toured with band leader Phil Spitalny, and later worked with Maurice Spitalny at Cleveland's RKO Palace Theatre. He joined Spike Jones City Slickers for whom he provided clarinet, vocals, and glugging sounds for almost two years immediately following WWII. He assembled a a band of his own, comprised of musicians of the traditional European Jewish ' klezmer' style, including trumpet player, Ziggy Elman, trumpeter Mannie Klein, trombonist Si Zentner; pianist-arranger Nat Farber and drummer Sammy Weiss, and dubbed them the Kosher Jammers. He recorded a score of albums on Capitol Records with numbers that included parodies such as "The Barber of Schlemiel," "Borscht Riders in the Sky," "Yiddish Mule Train," and "Duvid Crockett." Katz sang primarily in pidgin Yiddish, and is largely recognized as one of the fathers of American song parody paving the way for men like Allan Sherman and Weird Al Yankovic. Like any good comedian, Katz made some people uncomfortable, he was thought too ethnic by some of his generation, and too much of a comedian by musical purists. He starred in the Broadway shows "Hello, Solly!" and "Borscht Capades" which he wrote to explain old Jewish theatre to a modern audience. He styled it as a Catskill-type revue and introduced his teenage son, Joel, who would later make his own mark on Broadway as Joel Grey. With the Spike Jones' City Slickers, he appeared in the 1947 film "Ladies Man". Katz and the Kosher Jammers appeared in the film "Thoroughly Modern Millie" in 1967. Although Katz is most famous for his parodies, he created traditional klezmer music as well. His songs have been re-released on CD, under such titles as "Mish Mosh," "Mickey Katz Greatest Shticks," and "Simcha Time: Music for Weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, and Brisses." In 1993 Jazz musician Don Byron released a tribute album; "Don Byron Plays the Music of Mickey Katz."

Bio by: Iola

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 7 Nov 1998
  • Find A Grave Memorial 3830
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Mickey Katz (15 Jun 1909–30 Apr 1985), Find A Grave Memorial no. 3830, citing Hillside Memorial Park, Culver City, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .