He started playing piano at the age of six, and later began recording for Victor Records in 1926. For the next twenty years, he recorded several jazz albums and composed songs for a few musicals. His work includes compositions such as "Honeysuckle Rose" and "Jitterbug Waltz", along with covers of pre-existing songs such as "After You've Gone," "Go Down Moses" and "Viper Drag."
He also appeared in the films ''Film/KingOfBurlesque'', ''Film/HoorayForLove'', and ''Film/StormyWeather''.
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