Greg Poppleton

10 August - HURRY Book Now. New Sorcery & Swing Night Castlereagh Boutique Hotel in City BOOK NOW

Richard Himber Unusual 1936-38 Radio – Phantom Dancer 18 Feb 2020

This week’s 18 February Phantom Dancer mix of swing of jazz feature artist from live 1920s-60s radio, on radio and online, is composer, band leader, violinist, and magician, Richard Himber.

Richard Himber was a gimmicks man. He had the first vanity phone number back in 1932, R-HIMBER, and he came up with the idea of bands playing on the back of flatbed trucks for promotions. Hear him on 1936-38 radio on this week’s Phantom Dancer with Greg Poppleton.

The Phantom Dancer with actor and 1920s-30s singer Greg Poppleton can be heard online now at

The last hour is all vinyl.


From his Wiki entry…

Richard Himber Orchestra

Richard Himber Orchestra


He was born as Herbert Richard Imber in Newark, New Jersey to the owner of a chain of meat stores. His parents gave him violin lessons but when they found him performing in a seedy Newark dive, they took the instrument away from him and sent him to military school. In 1915, he stole away into New York City, where Sophie Tucker heard him play and hired him as a novelty act to play with her and the Five Kings of Syncopation where Himber was the highlight of the cabaret act.

He worked his way through Vaudeville and down Tin Pan Alley. He managed Rudy Vallee’s orchestra service, which sent out bands for private parties and society functions. A suave salesman and irrepressible idea man, he soon had his own band booking agency. In 1932, he acquired the first known “vanity” telephone number, R-HIMBER, answered 24 hours a day. Later that year, Himber finally formed an orchestra of his own, parlaying a gig at New York’s Essex House Hotel into national NBC radio exposure. Among the top-notch professionals in its ranks were Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw and many other future stars of the music world.


In 1933 Richard Himber made his first records, for Vocalion under the name “Dick Himber,” which intimates always called him. Among the selections was his own theme song, “It Isn’t Fair,” a song he wrote which became a hit. In 1934 after a single session for Victor’s budget label Bluebird, he began recording for the full-priced Victor label until 1939. He led one of the most sophisticated “sweet” dance bands of the era, featuring Joey Nash as his vocalist (1933–1935), who was replaced by Stuart Allen (1935–1939). We hear Stuart Allen on this week’s Phantom Dancer.

Himber was also a skilled magician, and invented many magic tricks including “The Himber Wallet,” “The Himber Ring,” and the “Himber Milk Pitcher.” In later years, his band act often included an interlude of magic and he conjured on many television shows as well.

An amazing Richard Himber magic trick

An amazing Richard Himber magic trick – with comedy patter!

Himber was the publisher of the R-H Log, a weekly survey of the most popular tunes on radio and television. To the annoyance of most music publishers, he refused to accept payola. He once ordered his secretary to phone every major publisher and tell them he had a stroke, to which many of them joyfully replied, “It’s about time.”

Other popular tunes that Himber composed were “Moments in the Moonlight,” “After the Rain,” “Monday in Manhattan,” “Haunting Memories,” “Time Will Tell,” “Am I Asking Too Much,” and “I’m Getting Nowhere Fast with You.” In 1957 he wrote a TV theme for NBC’s Tonight! America After Dark when Jack Lescoulie was the interim host—before Jack Paar took over.

In the late 1930s Himber’s band was featured in short-subject films produced in New York by Paramount Pictures and Himber was also the maestro for New York’s annual Harvest Moon Ball.


Among Himber’s novel promotions was a traveling bandstand on a flatbed truck, sponsored by Pepsi-Cola. The orchestra used it for free outdoor concerts in the New York City area in the 1960s. It was during one of these concerts in 1966 that Himber suffered a heart attack, dying several hours later.


Here is The Phantom Dancer Video of the Week, the Richard Himber 1937 soundie, ‘Richard Himber Plays For You’.

Make sure you come back to this blog, Greg Poppleton’s Radio Lounge, every Tuesday, for the newest Phantom Dancer play list and Video of the Week!


Play List – The Phantom Dancer
107.3 2SER-FM Sydney, Live Stream, Digital Radio
Community Radio Network Show CRN #424

107.3 2SER Tuesday 18 February 2020
After the 2SER 12 noon news, 12:04 – 2:00pm (+11 hours GMT)
and Saturdays 5 – 5:55pm
National Program:
1ART ArtsoundFM Canberra Sunday 10 – 11pm
5GTR Mt Gambier Mon 2:30 – 3:30am
4NAG Keppel FM 3 – 4am
2SEA Eden Monday 3 – 4am
2BAR Edge FM Bega Monday 3 – 4pm
3VKV Alpine Radio Monday 6 – 7pm
7MID Oatlands Tuesday 8 – 9pm
2ARM Armidale Friday 12 – 1pm
3MGB Mallacoota Sunday 5 – 6am

Set 1
 1938 – 40 Glenn Miller
Moonlight Serenade (theme) + I Never Knew
Glenn Miller Orchestra
Paradise Restaurant
30 Dec 1938
Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen
Glenn Miller Orchestra (voc) Andrew Sisters
‘Chesterfield Show’
27 Dec 1939
My My + Close
Glenn Miller Orchestra (voc) Marion Hutton
Cafe Rouge
Hotel Pennsylvania
15 Apr 1940
Set 2
Modern Radio
Prez’s Mood
Lester Young
1958 recording
I Got It Bad
Woody Herman Orchestra (voc) Mary Ann McCall
‘Excursions in Modern Music’
Rendezvous Ballroom
KHJ Mutual LA
30 Jul 1949
My Lady + Bill’s Blues
Stan Kenton Orchestra (alto sax Lee Konitz)
‘Concert Encores’
Palladium Balroom
15 Jan 1953
Set 3
Benny Goodman and Fletcher Henderson
Some of These Days
Benny Goodman Quartet
‘Camel Caravan’
13 Sep 1938
Benny Goodman Orchestra
‘Camel Caravan’
14 Oct 1939
Blue Skies
Benny Goodman Orchestra and Fletcher Henderson
‘Camel Caravan’
13 Sep 1938
Set 4
Richard Himber
Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen
Lucky Strike Orchestra directed by Richard Himber (voc) Buddy Clark
‘Your Hit Parade’
15 Jan 1938
Richard Himber and his Studebaker Champions
‘Magic Key’
27 Dec 1936
Through the Courtesy of Love + It’s DeLovely
Richard Himber and his Studebaker Champions (voc) Stuart Allen
‘Magic Key’
27 Dec 1936
Set 5
Women Big Band Singers  1937 – 40
I’m Getting Sentimental Over You (theme) + I’ll Those In Favour of Swing Say Aye
Edythe Wright (voc) Tommy Dorsey Orchestra
Cafe Rouge
Hotel Pennsylvania
14 Sep 1939
It’s a Blue World
Ella Fitzgerald Orchestra (voc) EF
Savoy Ballroom
4 Mar 1940
Darn That Dream
Helen Humes (voc) Count Basie Orchestra
Southland Cafe
WNAC NBC Red Boston
20 Feb 1940
One, Two Button Your Shoes
Ivie Anderson (voc) Duke Ellington Orchestra
Cotton Club
18 Mar 1937
Set 6
1940s Swing Bands on Radio
Combination Solid
Charlie Spivak Orchestra
Radio Transcription
Nightmares (theme) + Bedford Drive
Artie Shaw Orchestra
‘Spotlight Bands’
Santa Ana Ca.
Mutual Network
3 Oct 1945
Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby?
Bob Strong Orchestra (voc) Betty Martin and Randy Ryan
Glen Island Casino
New Rochelle NY
WOR Mutual NY
5 Aug 1944
Minding My Business
Buddy Rich Orchestra (voc) Dottie Reid
‘Spotlight Bands’
Phoenixville PA
24 Dec 1945
Set 7
Cab Calloway Commercial Sides
A Minor Breakdown
Cab Calloway Orchestra
Comm Rec
10 Dec 1937
Cab Calloway Orchestra
Comm Rec
17 Dec 1939
I Like Music
Cab Calloway Orchestra
Comm Rec
26 Jan 1938
Do I Care? No. No.
Cab Calloway Orchestra
Comm Rec
18 Mar 1940
Set 8
Harry James on 1954 Radio
Caxton Hall Swing
Harry James Orchestra
Radio Transcription
New York City
23 Jan 1954
Harry James Orchestra
NBC Superior WI
29 May 1954
Woodchopper’s Ball
Harry James Orchestra
‘All Star Parade of Bands’
Roll ‘Em + Cirribirribin (theme)
Harry James Orchestra
Aragon Ballroom
WBBM CBS Chicago
20 Jun 1954

Back to the News

Available now! Get your copy


Keep in touch with the monthly newsletter