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Arthur Johnston and Johnny Burke wrote “Pennies From Heaven” for the 1936 movie of the same name in which a series of disasters is followed by a happy ending. Appropriately enough the lyrics focus on failures, while the chorus is far more optimistic, which may account for the many times when only the chorus is recorded. Bing Crosby partially financed and starred in the show, which worked out well for him. His recording of the title song, with Jimmy Dorsey & His Orchestra, was featured on the radio show “Your Hit Parade” for over 13 weeks. In addition, the storyline in which his goal was to become a gondolier in Venice, served as a prequel to the seven “Road” movies made with Bob Hope.

Arthur Johnston (1898-1954) played piano for silent films before becoming Irving Berlin’s pianist and musical director of stage production. Having moved to Hollywood in the late 1920’s his first success was as the arranger of Charlie Chaplin’s 1931 production of “City Lights”. He served in the 351st infantry during World War II and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970.

Johnny Burke (1908-1964) worked as a pianist and song salesman for Irving Berlin Publishing in the mid-1920s, starting in Chicago, then moving to the New York City office, where he began writing lyrics. Having contracted with Paramount Pictures, he moved to Hollywood in 1936, where he worked on over 50 films, 25 of them starring Bing Crosby.


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