Ish Kabibble

aka M.A. Bogue

Photo of Ish Kabibble
  • Birth Name

    Merwyn 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 joined Kyser in 1931. He 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 joined the Army dur­ing WWII but con­tin­ued to per­form with Kyser, who worked tire­lessly en­ter­tain­ing the troops. He of­fi­cially re­joined the band once he re­turned to civil­ian life.

In 1947, Bogue toured solo on the the­ater cir­cuit, and in 1948 he at­tempted to drop his Ish Kabibble per­sona com­pletely to take up se­ri­ous act­ing. 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 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 1951. 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. Merwyn Bogue died of res­pi­ra­tory fail­ure in 1994.


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  • You'd Be Surprised
    Kay Kyser (Ish Kabibble), Brunswick (1936)
  • Three Little Fishes
    Kay Kyser (Ish Kabbible, Harry Babbitt, Sully Mason, Ginny Simms), Brunswick (1939)
  • Hello, Mr. Kringle
    Kay Kyser (Ginny Simms, Harry Babbitt, Sully Mason, Ish Kabbible), Columbia (1939)
  • Friendship
    Kay Kyser (Ish Kabbible, Ginny Simms, Jack Martin, Harry Babbitt), Columbia (1940)

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  • Screenshot
    "I've Got a One Track Mind"
    Kay Kyser (Harry Babbitt, Ginny Simms)
    from the film You’ll Find Out, RKO (1940)
  • Screenshot
    "Like the Fella Once Said"
    Kay Kyser (Sully Mason, Harry Babbitt, Ginny Simms, Ish Kabbible)
    from the film You’ll Find Out, RKO (1940)

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  • College of Musical Knowledge (Partial Program)
    1942 (NBC) 17:42


  1. Simon, George T. The Big Bands. 4th ed. New York: Schirmer, 1981.
  2. “Music as Written.” Billboard 24 Nov. 1945: 21.
  3. “In Short.” Billboard 19 Jul. 1947: 41.
  4. “Even Famed Entertainer May Get Movie Part on Ability Alone.” Spartanburg Herald-Journal 7 Nov. 1948: B4.
  5. Hillinger, Charles. “Say, What Ever Became of Merwyn Bogue?” The Pittsburgh Press 31 Aug. 1973: 25.
  6. “Obituary: Merwyn Bogue.” Sarasota Herald-Tribune 8 Jun. 1994: 15B.