Olcott inducted into Buffalo Music Hall of Fame
"This is a man who many years ago put his music out just by voice. What’s wonderful about it is the songs are going on and on and on. The Irish are still marching along" — Chauncey Olcott Johnstone, grandson of Chauncey Olcott, a Saratoga Springs resident who wrote “My Wild Irish Rose”
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. » Chauncey Olcott, a Saratoga Springs resident who wrote “My Wild Irish Rose,” was inducted recently into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame.
A Buffalo area native, he was one of America’s most popular early 20th century entertainers as a stage actor, singer and songwriter.
Olcott (1858-1932) and his wife, Rita, honeymooned in Saratoga Springs and later owned a home called Inniscarra on Clinton Street where they entertained celebrities such as conductor/composer Fritz Kreisler, Man O’ War race horse owner “Uncle Sam” Riddle, Gov. Al Smith and future President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Olcott’s accomplishments are almost too numerous to list. In 1970, he was part of the inaugural class inducted to the national Songwriters Hall of Fame.
In 1914, he co-founded the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). The group included many of the early 20th century’s greatest musicians, such as Irving Berlin, Victor Herbert and John Philip Sousa, and Olcott ranked among them.
Olcott’s grandson, Chauncey Olcott Johnstone, a frequent Saratoga Springs visitor, accepted the Hall of Fame award during an Oct. 5 induction ceremony gala at the Cardinal O’Hara Performing Arts Center in Tonawanda.
“This is quite an honor, a great honor,” Johnstone said.
He pointed out that early entertainers didn’t have the benefit of modern electronics and technol-
ogy during performances.
“This is a man who many years ago put his music out just by voice,” Johnstone said. “What’s wonderful about it is the songs are going on and on and on. The Irish are still marching along.”
During the ceremony, the crowd was treated to an original recording of Olcott’s powerful tenor voice singing, “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling,” the number one song of 1913, which he co-wrote. It was captured on old 78-RPM record.
He is also credited with popularizing “Tura-LuraLural” (That’s an Irish Lullaby).
His career took him from minstrel shows to fame in London, and then on Broadway.
After his death, on St. Patrick’s Day in 1932, Warner Brothers did a film on his life called “My Wild Irish Rose,” starring Dennis Morgan as Olcott.
The late Chauncey Olcott was inducted recently to the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame. A small wooden statue of him and his Hall of Fame award are shown.