Archives On The Air 225: A Trip Down Tin Pan Alley — L. Wolfe Gilbert Papers

Oct 29, 2020

Wolfie Gilbert was the songwriting dean of Tin Pan Alley.

He began his career as a singer touring with superstar boxer John Sullivan. His break came in 1912 with the success of his song Waiting for the Robert E. Lee.

He wrote the first movie theme song in 1928. The song, Ramona, was played by orchestras and radio stations across the U.S.

He left for Hollywood in 1929 when most songwriters still lived on the East Coast. It set him up well to score music for the booming film industry.

In the 1930s, this Ukrainian-born writer wrote Cuban songs that helped popularize the rumba in America.

He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970.

Learn more in the L. Wolfe Gilbert papers at UW's American Heritage Center.