Ish Kabibble

aka M.A. BogueMerwyn BogueIsh-Ka-Bibble

Photo of Ish Kabibble
  • Birth Name

    Merwyn Alton Bogue
  • Born

    January 19, 1908
    Erie, Pennsylvania
  • Died

    June 5, 1994 (age 86)
    Palm Springs, California
  • Orchestras

    Kay Kyser

Trumpet player and novelty singer Ish Kabibble was a household name during the 1940s. With his puddin’ bowl haircut and country bumpkin persona, he was the comedic foil to Kay Kyser on the College of Musical Knowledge radio and television series. Offstage, though, he was an astute businessman and the manager of Kyser’s orchestra for almost twenty years.

Merwyn Bogue grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania, and after completing three years of college joined Kyser in 1931. He married twice. Janet Meade became his second wife in 1932, and the couple remained together for the rest of their lives. Bogue accidentally created his Ish Kabibble persona in 1935 when he combed his hair into bangs and performed an old Yiddish song called “Isch Ka Bibble (I Should Worry),” the sheet music for which he’d found in a piano stool. The song, as well as his act, was an instant hit, and people began to call him by its name.

When Kyser’s orchestra achieved national prominence in 1938 with the College radio broadcasts, Ish quickly became a celebrity. His songs and comedy spots were popular features of the program. He would often interrupt Kyser with the recitation of a silly poem, such as the following:

I sneezed a sneeze into the air
it fell to earth I know not where
but you should have seen the looks on those
in whose vicinity I snoze

Bogue appeared with Kyser’s band in several motion pictures. The Army caught up with him in early 1945, but while in uniform he continued to perform with Kyser, who worked tirelessly entertaining the troops. He officially rejoined the band once he returned to civilian life. Kyser by that time had lost interest in the music business, and he mostly used studio orchestras and concentrated on his radio show, leaving Bogue with little to do, so beginning in 1947, in between Kyser duties, Bogue began to tour solo on the theater circuit, working with a small group.

In 1948, Bogue attempted to drop his Ish Kabibble persona completely to take up serious acting. He looked different in real life compared to his stage act, and using his normal street appearance and the name M.A. Bogue, he passed a Warner Brothers screen test and earned a part as one of Joan Crawford’s boyfriends in Flamingo Road, all without anyone recognizing him as Ish Kabibble. Even Crawford, who had worked with him on stage just weeks before didn’t catch on to who he was. It wasn’t until after filming had well begun when a publicity agent finally figured out his secret identity. He was then suddenly mobbed for autographs.

Bogue stayed with Kyser until the leader retired in 1950. He then pursued a solo career, working with his Dixieland outfit, the Shy Guys. In 1960, he gave up music and turned to selling real estate, for a time living in Hawaii.[1] Merwyn Bogue died of respiratory failure in 1994 at the age of 86.[2] Bogue’s wife, Janet, passed away eight days later. Her cause of death is unknown. The couple had two children.


  1. Bogue’s career is hard to research, as there were so many spelling variations of the name Ish Kabibble in newspapers and magazines. “Isch-Ga-Dibble” is one such odd example. ↩︎

  2. Modern sources list Bogue’s place of death as Joshua Tree, California, a small town located near Palm Springs. These modern sources give no source for that reference. Obituaries at the time of his death stated Palm Springs as the location. ↩︎


  1. Simon, George T. The Big Bands. 4th ed. New York: Schirmer, 1981.
  2. “If Playing Melody is Corn, I Want To Be Corny, Says Kay Kyser.” Down Beat Dec. 1937: 8.
  3. “Kay Kyser Set For War Tour.” Down Beat 1 May 1944: 1.
  4. “Music as Written.” Billboard 24 Nov. 1945: 21.
  5. “In Short.” Billboard 19 Jul. 1947: 41.
  6. “Even Famed Entertainer May Get Movie Part on Ability Alone.” Spartanburg Herald-Journal [Spartanburg, South Carolina] 7 Nov. 1948: B4.
  7. “Los Angeles Band Briefs.” Down Beat 22 Apr. 1949: 9.
  8. Advertisement. “Ish Kabibble.” Down Beat 6 Feb. 1957: 49.
  9. Hillinger, Charles. “Say, What Ever Became of Merwyn Bogue?” The Pittsburgh Press 31 Aug. 1973: 25.
  10. “Obituary: Merwyn Bogue.” Sarasota Herald-Tribune [Sarasota, Florida] 8 Jun. 1994: 15B.
  11. “United States Census, 1910,” FamilySearch ( : Fri Mar 08 18:26:46 UTC 2024), Entry for Martin H Bogue and Emma O Bogue, 1910.
  12. “United States Census, 1920,” FamilySearch ( : Sat Mar 09 23:06:55 UTC 2024), Entry for Martin Bogue and Mabel Bogue, 1920.
  13. “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2016,” FamilySearch ( : Fri Mar 08 23:06:11 UTC 2024), Entry for Merwyn A Bogue and Janet Meade, 09 May 1932.
  14. “United States Census, 1940,” FamilySearch ( : Sat Mar 09 23:00:12 UTC 2024), Entry for Merwin Bogue and Janet Bogue, 1940.
  15. “United States World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946,” database, FamilySearch ( : 5 December 2014), Merwin A Bogue, enlisted 29 Mar 1945, Ft Macarthur, San Pedro, California, United States; citing “Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, ca. 1938-1946,” database, The National Archives: Access to Archival Databases (AAD) ( : National Archives and Records Administration, 2002); NARA NAID 1263923, National Archives at College Park, Maryland.
  16. “United States Social Security Death Index,” database, FamilySearch ( : 11 January 2021), Janet M Bogue, 13 Jun 1994; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).