Harry Richman’s “Puttin’ On The Ritz” In Harlem (video/lyrics)

richard puttin on ritzHarry Richman (real name Reichmen), Jr. (1896-1972) was a star of vaudeville, Broadway, a few films and a bit of early TV between 1926 and 1932, today he is almost forgotten. Puttin’ On The Ritz was a #1 hit for Richman as Brunswick 4677 over an eight week chart run beginning February 15, 1930.

The original lyrics were written by Irving Berlin in 1928. The original lyrics and a video of the song of Puttin’ On The Ritz was performed in 1930.

Puttin on the Ritz’ meant to act as if one was from the Ritz Hotel, which was the most expensive chain hotel of the era (for example, it was one of the hotels where all the money was washed before being returned to the patrons as change). Also, the song is about poor black folks in Harlem who wore fancy clothes who strolled up and down Lenox Avenue, surrounded by the ritzy high-end apartment buildings built by the Vanderbilt’s and Rockefeller’s.

Let us not forget that a year earlier the market was over saturated, property values tanked and the stock market crashed – so everyone one might have been trying to Put’ On The Ritz.

Here’s the original lyrics:

Have you seen the well-to-do
Up on Lennox Avenue
On that famous thoroughfare
With their noses in the air

High hats and coloured collars
White spats and fifteen dollars
Spending ev’ry dime
For a wonderful time

If you’re blue and
You don’t know where to go to
Why don’t you go where Harlem sits
Puttin’ on the Ritz

Spangled gowns upon the bevee of high browns
From down the levee
All misfits
Puttin’ on the Ritz

That’s where each and ev’ry Lulu-Belle goes
Ev’ry Thursday evening with her swell beaus
Rubbing elbows

Come with me and we’ll attend
Their jubilee, and see them spend
Their last two bits
Puttin’ on the Ritz
Puttin’ on the Ritz
Puttin’ on the Ritz

If you’re blue and
You don’t know where to go to
Why don’t you go where Harlem sits
Puttin’ on the Ritz

Spangled gowns upon the bevee of high browns
From down the levee
All misfits
Puttin’ on the Ritz

That’s where each and ev’ry Lulu-Belle goes
Ev’ry Thursday evening with her swell beaus
Rubbing elbows

Come with me and we’ll attend
Their jubilee, and see them spend
Their last two bits
Puttin’ on the Ritz

That’s where each and ev’ry Lulu-Belle goes
Ev’ry Thursday evening with her swell beaus
Rubbing elbows
Puttin’ on the Ritz

Here’s the original video:

The song was re-recorded in the 1940’s by Fred Astaire.

Harry Richman died in 1972 at age 77.

What is “Chewy Gooey” sign at 4:06?

About Harlem World Magazine

Harlem World Magazine is a lifestyle and brand for anyone who has a Harlem state of mind, dedicated to news, history, the renaissance and stories that celebrate our lifestyle.

Leave a Reply