Monday, January 25, 2010

Ira Gershwin Facts: What's In a Name?

On December 6, 1896, a young immigrant couple, Moishe Gershovitz and Rosa Bruskin, gave birth to their first baby.  Moishe had already changed the family’s surname to Gershvin and taken the name Morris before little Israel (Ira) was born.

Names, it would seem, became very important to Ira Gershwin.  To begin, it wasn’t until he applied for a passport in 1928 (age 32) that he found out his name was Israel!  Growing up, he had always gone by the nickname “Izzy” and had assumed it was short for Isidore. 

[As an aside, Isidore was the birth name of another famous lyricist and a very close friend of Ira’s from high school.  To find out who… come to Nice Work If You Can Get It at the Alcazar!]

Ira also used names to eschew the limelight, preferring to use pseudonyms on his earlier works.  One “a.k.a” he took was Bruskin Gershwin, his mother’s maiden name, to publish the short story “The Shrine”.  His most famous nom de plume was probably as lyricist Arthur Francis, which he used off and on until 1922.  Arthur was his younger brother’s name and Frances was his baby sister.

Yes, names it seems were important to Ira Gershwin and given his choice of aliases it would seem his family was important to him, too. 

More entertaining facts about Ira Gershwin to come keep an eye on the blog. For even more fun and a chance to hear his amazing lyrics live, come join us at
42nd Street
Moon’s Ira Gershwin Salon, narrated by Tony Award Winner
Donna McKechnie, Thursday, January 28th at the Alcazar Theatre.  The show starts at 7PM.  For tickets, click here.


Marly said...

What a great name story! I love stories about names and people who change them. Thanks for your post!

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