Leonard Whitcup was born on October 12, 1903 in New York, New York. He was educated at New York University and studied music with David Saperton and Orville Mayhood. He wrote music and lyrics for radio from 1925-1934, often performing alone or with his trio, The Playboys. From 1934 until 1977, Mr. Whitcup wrote popular songs and special material for vaudeville, revues, and television series, "The Soupy Sales Show." Mr. Whitcup also wrote music and lyrics for several motion pictures, including Rollin' Plains, Sweet Moments, Weekend Italian Style, Sons of Hercules, and the Swedish film Pippi Longstocking. His 1931 song "Fiesta" was featured by the Henry Busse Orchestra and used in Fellini's film 8 1/2.
Much of Whitcup's music was written in collaboration with other songwriters of the 1930s and 1940s, especially Teddy Powell, Walter G. Samuels, Chet Gierlach, Paul Cunningham, and Ted Lehrman. Among the more well-known of these hit songs are "Infatuation" (1934), which was recorded by singer Bing Crosby; "True" (1934), recorded and popularized by Ruth Etting; "I Couldn't Believe My Eyes (1935), recorded by Julius La Rosa; "Take Me Back to My Boots and Saddle" (1935), which was recorded by Bing Crosby, Gene Autry, and many other artists of the day; "Rollin' Plains" (1937), featured by Tex Ritter in his film of the same name; "Heaven Help this Heart of Mine (1937), written especially for Mary Noble's play, Back Stage Life, and recorded by Buddy Clark and later by Mildred Bailey; and "Bewildered" (1938), recorded by the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Billy Eckstine, and many other artists of the day, and in the 1970s, by James Brown. Other hit songs worthy of mention are: "Frenesi" (1939) recorded by Woody Herman and Sylvia Sims; "Blazin' the Trail" (1936), recorded by Gene Autry; "From the Vine Came the Grape" (1953), recorded by The Gaylords and The Hilltoppers; and "The Sunshine of Love" (1968), recorded by Louis Armstrong.
Alone and in collaboration with Chet Gierlach and Johnny Olson, Mr. Whitcup authored many hymns in choral arrangements for up to four voices.
During World War II, Mr. Whitcup wrote a series of patriotic songs. The most famous of these is his "I Am an American," which was entered into the Congressional Record on May 5, 1941, as the official song for the national holiday proclaimed for May 18 by then-President Roosevelt: "I Am an American Day." Several versions of this song were published, including one which was adapted for Canadian use, retitled, "I Am a Canadian."
Mr. Whitcup was a member of the American Guild of Authors and Composers and served as Treasurer and Council Member of this group from 1955 to 1962 when he also became Vice President and Chairman until his death. He also served as Treasurer and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Songwriters Hall of Fame; was treasurer and on the Board of Directors of the National Academy of Popular Music; and was a member of the East Coast Members Advisory Committee, and an alternative member of the Board of Review of American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers.
Mr. Whitcup and his wife, Sally, had no children. He died of a stroke in the Lenox Hill Hospital in New York in April, 1977 at age 75.
The Leonard Whitcup Sheet Music Collection consists of two bound volumes of his published sheet music and three folders of unbound sheet music, some of which have never been published. All but two songs ("Gimme Love" and "I'm Thru Sending Roses") are copyrighted.
Volume I covers the period 1924-1939. Included is an autograph version of "Bananas" (1932). Also included in this first volume are entire song albums: the "Toyland Album" of simple children's songs, and the "Popular, Easy-to-Play Accordian Solos," which are arrangements by Bruno Camini of Leonard Whitcup's songs.
Volume II, covering the period 1939-1954, contains the published booklet "70 Favorite Hymns" written in collaboration with Chet Gierlach and Johnny Olson; and the 1941 song, "Follow the Dodgers," which was the official theme song of the old Brooklyn Dodgers Football Club written by Ira Schuster, Paul Cunningham, and Leonard Whitcup.
The unbound sheet music, 1955-1977, is filed chronologically by latest copyright date in three folders. Of note in this series is the song "Kissin' On the Phone" (1960) sung and recorded by Paul Anka, with lyrics in Japanese as well as English; "People to People" (1960), which was adopted by the program of the same name as its official theme song; all the songs in the only one of the three "Soupy Sales Show Song Albums" (1962-1964), which were written by Mr. Whitcup and Ted Lehrman, and sung by Soupy Sales; "Sons of Hercules" (1963), which was written for the television series of the same name; "The A-Team Song Album" (1966) sung by Sgt. Barry Sadler of the Green Berets and featuring songs about the Vietnam War; "Put Your Dreams In a Hope Chest" (1966), which was used as the official song of the Multiple Sclerosis Society; and "John Fitzgerald Kennedy" (1966/67), a eulogy written in honor of President Kennedy.
Several songs appear in the collection by the composer/lyricist team of Harry Rand and Raymond Scott. The latter is a pseudonym for composer Harry Warnow; the former is the pseudonym Mr. Whitcup used as a lyricist in collaboration with Mr. Warnow.
Much of the sheet music is comprised of professional or artist's copies. The unpublished music manuscripts are printed copies of the originals; several of the latest have Mr. Whitcup's original annotations and revisions on them.
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Collection is open to the public.
Collection must be used in Special Collections & University Archives Reading Room.Restrictions on Use :
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If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.Preferred Citation :
[Identification of item], Leonard Whitcup Sheet Music Collection, Coll 74, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.
The collection is arranged in the following series:
Detailed Description of the Collection