Pianist, Musical Director, Lyricist
Ted Shapiro is best known as the pianist and musical director for Sophie Tucker. His association with Tucker began in 1921 and lasted for 40 years, during which time he wrote one of her signature songs, “Nobody Loves a Fat Girl, But Oh How a Fat Girl Can Love.” Tucker, a big, proud woman, gave it her self-deprecating humor to great applause. The song was even picked up by modern day troubadour/pop singer Jim Croce, who died at 30 in a 1973 plane crash. It is included in the home recordings released by his family in 2003. Shapiro also co-wrote much of Tucker’s bawdy material such as “The Older They Get the Younger They Want ‘Em” (1944).
Despite his long-term commitment to Tucker, Shapiro wrote songs with several collaborators. His best-known standard, “If I Had You,” was written in 1928 with Reginald Connelly and James Campbell. In 1927 he and Gus Kahn wrote “Waitin’ for Katie,” which was picked up by the popular Ben Pollack Band, and “Little Mistakes.” “To You” and “This is No Dream” were written with Benny Davis and Tommy Dorsey in 1939. “(I Love the) Winter Weather” (1941), for which Shapiro wrote words and music, was recorded by Fats Waller and by Peggy Lee with Art London in her first session with Benny Goodman.
Another of Shapiro’s songs to enjoy longevity is “Handful of Stars,” written with Jack Lawrence in 1940. It became the opening theme for radio’s “The Big Show” and was recorded by Glenn Miller Orchestra’s with vocalist Ray Eberle. The song was used in the 1940 film Hullabaloo, recorded by both Nat King Cole and jazz saxophonist Stan Getz and most recently by jazz guitarist Russell Malone on Heartstrings (2001).
-- Sandra Burlingame
Courtesy of JazzStandards.com