It’s amazing how tiny relics carry such weight and hint at such stories. Here’s a small collection of autographs for sale (for the moment) on eBay, and the link is here:
If possible, the back sides of these slips of paper — eighty years old — are even more revealing:
I wrote to the seller who promptly and politely told me that Maxwell’s was in St. Joseph’s, Missouri (although a few might be from his father’s move to Los Angeles), and that these were his father’s treasures — and that “Albertina” might have been an example of his “off-the-wall humor.” So there you have it — a little in-person slice of life documenting what it would be like to stand in front of the band and ask Mr. Miller or Mr. Cole for an autograph — when the Cab Calloway band played the “Frog Hop” — an actual place, a ballroom built by one Frank Frogge.
What a wonderful thing that these pages survive!
In the same eBay sweep, I found these portraits of Miss Lee Wiley, who obviously might have been a film siren if the circumstances had been different. Rumor has it that her one film appearance (circa 1936, in a variety short with Woody Herman) never was seen because she was so difficult to work with. But these photographs are powerful evidence of her beautiful sensuality — even when she wasn’t singing.
Here’s Lee with Leo Reisman in 1931, singing Vincent Youmans:
Thanks to eBay, the world’s attic, and to the sellers who keep finding things for us to rhapsodize over.
May your happiness increase!