Chapter 12 Extras

Way Back When

"It's a Pleasure," written by Jack Yellen and Milton Ager in 1931, is one of more than a dozen of Tucker’s specialty songs celebrating a new man in her life. Most of these songs involve her accompanist and straight man, Ted Shapiro, egging her on and feigning surprise that Sophie is in love yet again. The lyrics inevitably reveal that Tucker has known her latest conquest for one night (or less) and, of course, the Red Hot Mama never remembers his name.

Late one night in 1925, Sophie got a call in her room at the Sherman Hotel in Chicago. Whenever her pal Jack Yellen finished writing a new song that he was excited about, he called Sophie to debut it. Jack’s mother had recently passed away and he had been working on a tribute to her for months, and that song became Sophie’s biggest hit, "My Yiddishe Momme."

This song became an anthem for Jews worldwide, particularly during and after World War II. With the exception of a three month lull in early 1926 while Sophie mourned the death of her own mother, she was requested to sing "My Yiddish Momme" at every performance for the next forty years.