Chapter 14 Extras

The Dying Rag

Around 1934, Sophie started experimenting with schmaltzy songs. Themes include brotherhood, charity, and general joy about being alive, though there was often a suggestive punchline to keep a song from getting too sweet. A good example is the song “That’s Something to Be Thankful For,” written by Joe Young and Carmen Lombardo.

Eventually Tucker would go all the way with her schmaltz. In the last two decades of her career, as she was feeling more grandmotherly, Sophie would instruct her writers to drop the jokes and go full-on sentimental, even though these songs were performed side-by-side with her usual raunchy numbers

"Conversational Man" (1928), written by Ted Shapiro and Ralph Lermer, seems as if it was written with Sophie’s third husband, Al Lackey, in mind. There is no doubt that the man could talk. From our research and interviews, all evidence suggests Al had a doctorate in B.S. Sophie financed dozens of Lackey’s schemes over their twenty year relationship, but his true talent seems to have been cashing her checks. She mentioned him in her acceptance speech after she was honored at the Friar’s club in 1953: “Lackey was quite a talker but I’ll say this for the man. After I got him to shut up, he earned every dollar I ever gave him.”