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These Foolish Things (1936)

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Origin and Chart Information

“... on Verve Jazz Masters 6 Ella Fitzgerald sings a 350-plus word version that lasts nearly seven and one half minutes.”

- JW

AKAThese Foolish Things Remind Me of You
Rank 28
Music Jack Strachey
Harry Link
Lyrics Eric Maschwitz

Singer/actress Dorothy Dickson introduced “These Foolish Things” in the 1936 British musical comedy Spread it Abroad. A modest hit, the production opened at London’s Saville Theater on the first of April and ran for 209 performances. French actor Jean Sablon was originally chosen to sing “These Foolish Things,” but the death of King George V in January meant the show was delayed. In the meantime Sablon took a position starring in the American radio series “The Magic Key.”


More on Dorothy Dickson at JazzBiographies.com

Dorothy Dickson never did record the song, but it still became a major hit in the United States with no fewer than five recordings making the top 20 that summer (see the visitor’s comment below). Benny Goodman’s rendition, featuring vocalist Helen Ward, was first on the charts, holding the number one position for two weeks. All told, in 1936, the song appeared by:

  • Benny Goodman and his Orchestra (Helen Ward, vocal, #1)
  • Teddy Wilson and His Orchestra (Billie Holiday, vocal, #5)
  • Nat Brandywynne and His Stork Club Orchestra (Buddy Clark, vocal, #6)
  • Carroll Gibbons and His Orchestra (#8)
  • Joe Sanders and His Orchestra (#17)

Chart information used by permission from
Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954

In short time Jean Sablon did get an opportunity to sing the song, and in 1936 he recorded “These Foolish Things” as “Ces Petites Choses.” In 1947 Red Ingle and the Natural Seven recorded the novelty number “Them Durn Fool Things,” based on “These Foolish Things,” which rose to number twenty-six.

With a book and lyrics by Herbert Farjeon and music by William Walker, Spread it Abroad had an excellent cast including Dorothy Dickson, Ivy St. Helier, Nelson Keys, Walter Crisham, Tessa Deane, Lyle Evans, and Michael Wilding, the future husband of Elizabeth Taylor.


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More information on this tune...

Robert Gottlieb, Robert Kimball
Reading Lyrics
Hardcover: 736 pages

(This book contains anecdotes and the lyric for “These Foolish Things” as well as other lyrics by Maschwitz.)
See the Reading and Research panel below for more references.

- Jeremy Wilson

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