“I ain’t got no money but I got a lot of fun.”
So sang the incomparable songwriter Benny Bell,
and a new book about his wacky life & career
explores the truth behind the sentiment.
The up-and-down-and-up-and-down career of the man behind “Shaving Cream” and other novelty classics was full of humor and drama, merriment and pain.
A new book about Bell, one of the funniest, quirkiest and hardest working entertainers ever to come out of the vaudeville and Borscht Belt eras, has just been published by BearManor Media called “Grandpa Had a Long One: Personal Notes on the Life, Career & Legacy of Benny Bell.” Although never very famous, and never rich,
The reasons behind
Part showbiz bio and part author memoir, “Grandpa Had a Long One” is a fascinating look into the world of an extremely funny man who believed in his own hype far more than he believed in the integrity and honesty of the entertainment industry. A genuine entrepreneur, Ben wrote, arranged, sung, recorded, packaged and promoted most of his records himself—more than 120 of them, including such novelty and double-entendre song classics as “Shaving Cream,” “Everybody Wants My Fanny” “Pincus the Peddler,” “Take a Ship for Yourself,” “Grandpa Had a Long One,” “Yum Yum Yum (I Ain’t Got No Money but I Got a Lot of Fun)” and many others.
At times, Benny Bell came so close to broad popularity that he was able to sense what stardom must be like. But he was always so far away from it that he could never depend on his celebrity for the next rent check. Why was that? And what must it have been like to be so close and yet so far? Samberg explores those topics, and others, in “Grandpa Had a Long One,” while also recreating his grandfather’s career with all its erratic changes, early successes, meetings with industry pros, 67-year love affair with his wife Molly, disastrous partnerships with record companies, get-rich schemes, misguided plans, TV and stage appearances and much more.
Ben’s greatest popularity was in the 1940s and early 50s, though in the mid-1970s “Shaving Cream” was re-released and became a Top-40 hit. In
“Grandpa Had a Long One” also includes lyrics to more than 25 classic Benny Bell songs and over 40 photographs from the entertainer’s long life and career.
Joel Samberg has written articles, columns and essays for dozens of magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, New Jersey Monthly, New Jersey Savvy Living Magazine, the New York Daily News and many others. He is also the author of the book “Reel Jewish: A Century of Jewish Movies,” and his series of short plays, collectively called “Six Tens from a Fifty,” was performed by the Brief Acts Theatre Company in New York City in 2008.
About BearManor Media
BearManor Media (www.bearmanormedia.com), founded in 2001, specializes in books on nostalgia and popular culture. In addition to books by experts in several fields, the company also publishes autobiographies by many showbiz celebrities. Recent titles include “Angelic Heaven: A Fan Guide to Charlie’s Angels,” by Mike Pingel, “The Laugh Crafters: Comedy Writing on Radio and Television’s Golden Age” by Jordan Young, “Son of Harpo Speaks,” by Bill Marx, “We Bombed in New London: The Inside Story of the Broadway Musical Late Nite Comic,” by Brian Gari, the grandson of the late comedian Eddie Cantor, and many other informative and evocative titles.