Gustave Kerker (1857-1923)
Born in Herford, Germany, Kerker came to the Untied States in 1867 where he lived in Louisville, Kentucky, moving to New York 1879. He had a home in Tottenville at 331 Manhattan Street .
He played the cello in orchestras in Kentucky theaters and then became a conductor. The first operetta he wrote, The Cadets, toured the South in 1879. His first operetta in New York was Castles in the Air in 1890. He wrote the music for over twenty shows plus pieces in other shows. Two productions to note were a two act extravaganza of Yankee Doodle Dandy in 1898 and inclusion of The Lobster Song (I was Walking ‘Round the Ocean) in a 1903 stage production of the Wizard of Oz.
The most successful ones was a London production Little Christopher Columbus in 1893 and an international musical hit, The Belle of New York in 1897.
In 1952, 29 years after Kerker’s death, Hollywood released a movie version of The Belle of New York as a musical comedy set at the turn of the century, written by Hugh Morton with the music of Gustave Kerker. The cast included Fred Astaire, Vera-Ellen, Marjorie Main, Keenan Wynn and Alice Pearce.