8. Mama Was a Star


Chances are you’ve never heard of Ruth Wallis, one of the greatest singers, comedians, and performers of sexually suggestive lyrics in the postwar United States. Most of her catalogue remains on vinyl and historians have forgotten her. But from the 1940s until the early 1970s, Ruth Wallis was a bestselling performer and a mainstay at supper clubs and hotels. At a time when it was legally risky for entertainers to sing about sexuality for profit and pleasure, Ruth sold millions of records that used innuendo to playfully hint at a variety of straight and queer sexual pleasures.

Ruth Wallis (young).jpg

Hosts and Creators: Gillian Frank and Lauren Gutterman.

Producers: Rebecca Davis, Saniya Lee Ghanoui and Devin McGeehan Muchmore. 

Intern: Jayne Swift.

Music: Ruth Wallis, "Johnny Had a Yo-Yo," "Do It Yourself Kit," "Queer Things," "The Dinghy Song," "Mama Was a Star," "Marriage Jewish Style," "The American Plan," "That Was the Burlesque That Was," "Your Daddy Was a Soldier," "Gimme," "Fame is a Fleeting Thing," "She'll Be Apples," "This is the Only Life I Know," Courtesy of: InDigi Music on behalf of Wallis Original Record Corp. and After InDigi Music on behalf of itself and Ruth S. Wallis Music.

Music:  Tommy Dorsey "The Blue Room," Fletcher Henderson "The House of David Blues," Woody Herman "I've Got You Under My Skin," Larry Vincent "The Freckle Song," Spud Murphy "Transcontinental," Village Stompers "Bei Mir Bist Du Schon," Sonny Lester "The Late Late Show," Benny Goodman Sextet "Shine," "Oh! Calcutta!" Dizzy Gillespie "Lover Come Back to Me," Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra "Lost Love," Harry James and His Orchestra "One O'Clock Jump," Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra "I'll Dream My Way to Heaven," Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra "Save It Pretty Mama," courtesy of Archive.org

Special thanks to Alan Pastman, Mitch Douglas and Rusty Warren for sharing their stories with us. Thank you to Jennifer Caplan and Lauren Sklaroff for sharing their historical expertise with us.

Thank you to Alan Pastman for sharing his personal archive.

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Selected Readings