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Nora Bayes (October 8, 1880 – June 19, 1928) was a popular American singer, comedienne and actress of the early 20th century.

Early life and career

Born Leonora Goldberg to a Jewish family in Joliet, Illinoismarker, Bayes was performing professionally in vaudeville in Chicagomarker by age 18. She toured from San Francisco, Californiamarker to New York Citymarker and became a star both on vaudeville and Broadwaymarker.

In 1908, she married singer-songwriter Jack Norworth. The two toured together and were credited for collaborating on a number of tunes, including their huge hit "Shine On, Harvest Moon", which the pair debuted in Florenz Ziegfeld's Follies of 1908.

Bayes made many phonograph records, some with Norworth, for the Victor Talking Machine Company and Columbia Records. From 1924 through 1928, her accompanist was pianist Louis Alter, who later was the songwriter of such tunes as "Manhattan Serenade," "Nina Never Knew" and "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?".

Marriages and Family

Bayes married five times. Her first husband was Otto Gressing a business man in Chicago. Her second husband was Jack Norworth, this was her most famous marriage. Husband number three was a dancer named Harry Clarke who, like Norworth, appeared with her in vaudeville. Husband number four was New York business man Arthur Gordon. Her fifth and last husband was Benjamin Friedland, a garage owner.

Bayes bore no biological children in any of her marriages. She however yearned for children and adopted three.


In 1928, Nora Bayes contracted cancer and died following surgery. She was buried 18 years later with her fifth husband, Ben Friedland, in the Woodlawn Cemeterymarker in the Bronx, New Yorkmarker. On April 11, 2006, under the terms of the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, Nora Bayes was added to the National Recording Registry with the following citation:
"Over There," Nora Bayes (1917) - Inextricably associated in popular imagination with World War I, Nora Bayes’ recording introduced George M. Cohan’s song and became an international hit. Cohan had specifically requested that Bayes be the first singer to release his composition. A former member of the Ziegfeld Follies, an extremely popular vaudevillian and a Broadway star, she recorded a number of other songs to boost morale during the war and performed extensively for the soldiers.

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