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.

Music

Previous <<
Play > Pause ||
Next >>
0:00 / 0:00
Select a song to play
Play All
  • 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)

All recordings are from the Internet Archive's 78rpm collection. Copyright owners, please see our removal policy.

Films

Select a video to play
  • 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)

We embed media from YouTube and the Internet Archive. Items may disappear on those services without notice. If you run across something that's no longer available, please let us know so we can remove the embed.

Copyright owners, please see our removal policy.

Radio

Previous <<
Play > Pause ||
Next >>
0:00 / 0:00
Select a program to play
Play All
  • College of Musical Knowledge (Partial Program)
    1942 (NBC) 17:42

Sources

  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.