Sammy Gallop

Sammy Gallop. (Image: Public Domain)

Americans growing up in the 1940s and 1950s are probably familiar with some of the popular songs written by composer/lyricist—and Duluth native—Sammy Gallop. He wrote the lyrics for the songs “Maybe You’ll Be There” (1947),  which was recorded by Gordon Jenkins and was on the Billboard Best Selling Retail Records chart for 30 weeks in 1948 and 1949; “Outside of Heaven” (1952), recorded by Eddie Fisher; and “Somewhere Along the Way” (1952), which was on the Billboard chart for 22 weeks on a recording by Nat “King” Cole, and was performed by Bette Midler in the 1997 film That Old Feeling.

Sammy Gallop was born in Duluth on March 16, 1915. He was one of a number of descendants of Gallops (or Gollops) who immigrated to Duluth from Russia. Sammy’s grandparents, Samuel and Anna, moved to Duluth with their children in about 1906 after immigrating from Berdechev, Russia. Sammy’s mother, Dora, was about seventeen years old when she arrived in the Zenith City.

Sammy’s father Morris—also from Berdechev—came to Duluth at the same time. Morris and Dora were married about 1908, set up residence in the Central Hillside, and had four sons: Fred (1909), Robert (1912), Sam (1915), and Marvin (1923). Morris worked as a peddler and sometimes as a livestock dealer for his uncle John Gallop.

Other notable Duluth Gallops included Sammy’s cousin, Sam Gallop, a local sports promoter and owner of the Kasbar at 220 West Superior Street, from 1955 to 1970; Melvin G. Gallop, another cousin who owned and managed the building at 105 Lake Avenue South which housed the Metropole Hotel, the Metropole Bar, and Joe Huie’s Café; Joseph H. Gallop, Dora’s brother, a professional boxer and wrestler and later a Duluth wrestling referee and promoter; and Louis Gollop, another of Dora’s brothers who chose to spell his name closer to the original Russian. Louis was a well-known sports reporter and editor for the Duluth News Tribune in the 1920s and later a reporter for the St. Paul Dispatch.

Sammy Gallop grew up in Duluth and attended Central High School, graduating in 1932. The 1932 Zenith, Central High’s yearbook, indicates he didn’t participate in many extracurricular activities. His older brother Robert graduated in the same class.

Morris died in 1933, leaving Dora and her sons to fend for themselves. (She remained in Duluth a widow and later married Harry Taran and died in New York City in 1962 while visiting her son Sammy.) Sammy Gallop studied engineering at the Duluth Junior College and began his working life as a surveyor and draftsman. By 1940 he and Marvin Goldberg were running Gallop & Goldberg, a cigar store at 414 E. 4th St. in Duluth. Soon after that he left Duluth, likely first to the Twin Cities—his wife, Sylvia Goldenberg, was a St. Paul native; they married in 1942 had two children, Marilyn and Douglas. The Gallops were soon in New York, where he began selling songs.

Gallop’s songwriting career was very successful throughout the 1940s and into the 1950s. In a Duluth Herald article from 1950, he said he wrote about 200 unsuccessful songs before his first hit. “Elmer’s Tune” was written in 1941, with words and music by Elmer Albrecht, Dick Jurgens, and Sammy Gallup. The song was a favorite of the Glenn Miller Orchestra and their recording reached number one on the Billboard chart on December 20, 1941.

Another song that turned out to be a hit for Gallop was the oddly titled “Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy” (1945), which was recorded by Dinah Shore in 1946 and was her first top-ten hit (the song also appears several times in John Updike’s novel Rabbit at Rest).

Gallop would pen the lyrics to many other popular songs, including “Autumn Serenade” (1945), “Maybe You’ll Be There” (1947), “Count Every Star” (1950), “Somewhere Along the Way” (1952), “Wake the Town and Tell the People” (1955), and “Joey’s Song,” written for his uncle Joe Gallop. His songs were recorded by Harry James, Artie Shaw, Jimmy Dorsey, Spike Jones, Stan Kenton, Guy Lombardo, the Andrews Sisters, Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians, Julius La Rosa, Margaret Whiting, and Frankie Vaughan.

Gallop also wrote music for Broadway musicals, including Star and Garter (1942), which starred Gypsy Rose Lee; All for Love (1949); and John Murray Anderson’s Almanac (1954), starring Harry Belafonte. He also wrote music for revues at the New York City nightclub in the Latin Quarter.

By the mid-1960s Sammy Gallop’s New York songwriting career had peaked and was on the decline. He and Sylvia moved to Encino, California, in the mid-1960s. They were in the process of getting a divorce when Sammy, confined to a hospital in Van Nuys, California, committed suicide by hanging on February 25, 1971. He was 55 years old.

Gallop’s songs have appeared in movies and television shows since his death, most recently “Count Every Star” in Revolutionary Road (2008) with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

Story by David Ouse. Originally published on Zenith City Online (2012–2017). Click here for more stories by David Ouse.