Rudy Vallee was a megaphone-carrying crooner who became a star with his tribute to fellow Yalies drinking down at Mory's with their glasses raised on high.
He had started as a saxophonist and bandleader in the 1920s and, for the next two decades, was one of the nation's most successful vaudeville and radio personalities.
Vallee attended the University of Maine and, later, Yale. To pay his tuition and board, he began to play with dance bands in New York and Boston. He also occasionally sang with the bands, using a truncated megaphone.
The megaphone, of course, became his trademark, although at the time its use was not uncommon among singers. He and the megaphone became familiar sights in the 1920s and 1930s. With the megaphone in hand, and sometimes wearing a college sweater, he sang in a rich, somewhat nasal voice, that Yale drinking ditty, the "Whiffenpoof Song," as well as "My Time is Your Time" and "I'm Just a Vagabond Lover."
Vallee graduated from Yale in 1927 and, a year later, formed an eight-piece band at the new, exclusive Heigh-Ho Club in New York City. A local radio station began to broadcast live from the club, and Vallee was on his way to stardom.
By 1929, Standard Brands had signed Vallee and his band for an hour-long weekly radio show to advertise Fleischmann's Yeast. It became known as the "Fleischmann Hour" and in 1932 evolved into radio's first variety show. Vallee was more than a singer and band leader; he also was a master of ceremonies, introducing other talent.
Vallee branched out in the 1930s, forming a talent agency and two music publishing companies. He began grinding out a long list of hit songs that included the University of Maine "Stein Song," "Good Night Sweetheart," "I Kiss Your Hand, Madame," "Lover Come Back to Me," "Springtime in the Rockies," "Honey" and "Marie."
Vallee became a popular Hollywood crooner in such films as "Sweet Music" (1935); "Gold Diggers in Paris" (1938); "Second Fiddle" (1939); "Time Out for Rhythm" (1941); "Too Many Blonds" (1941) and "The Palm Beach Story" (1942).