Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Who's Yehoodi?

I immediately imagined Hitler & co searching for Jews with this song in their heads.
From Katie's "Musical Madness" blog.

Lane Truesdale & band in Who's Yehoodi? (short soundie from 1942).
The catchphrase "Who's Yehoodi?" (or, alternatively, "Who's Yehudi?") originated when violinist Yehudi Menuhin was a guest on the popular radio program of Bob Hope, where sidekick Jerry Colonna, apparently finding the name itself humorous, repeatedly asked "Who's Yehudi?" Colonna continued the gag on later shows even though Menuhin himself was not a guest, turning "Yehudi" into a widely understood 1930s slang reference for a mysteriously absent person. This song with the title and catchphrase "Who's Yehoodi?" was written in 1940 by Bill Seckler and Matt Dennis. It was covered by Kay Kyser and more famously by Cab Calloway. The final stanza of the song is:
The little man who wasn’t there
Said he heard him on the air
No one seems to know from where
But who's Yehoodi?
Both the catchphrase and the song eventually lost all of their original connection with Menuhin. Its double meaning of "Who Is Jewish?" — the word "Yehudi" means "Jew" in the Hebrew language — was emphasized in a short sound film ("soundie") of the song with variant lyrics made in 1943 with singer Lane Truesdale and an unidentified male trio, in which a "living portrait" of a pejoratively stereotypical Jew with black hat and long beard leers inappropriately at Truesdale's swinging hips before finally announcing "I'm Yehoodi!"

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