Gus Arnheim is perhaps most well known as the leader of the Arnheim orchestra that helped launch or establish many singers’ career, most notably Bing Crosby.
Arnheim was bon on September 11, 1897 in Philadelphia, PA. He got his professional start as a pianist with the Syncopated Five. From there he was offered theatre jobs and then became Sophie Tucker’s accompanist. Arnheim teamed with Abe Lyman in 1927 to form the Cocoanut Grove Orchestra and in 1929 the group went on tour in Europe and throughout the US performing mostly Arnheim-penned compositions.
With the new vocal focus of the big-band era in the 1930’s and 40’s, Arnheim collaborated with some of the most talented lyricists on Tin Pan Alley, including Arthur Freed and Harry Tobias, to produce the hit standards “I Surrender, Dear” (Crosby’s first solo hit), “Sweet and Lovely”, “I Cried for You”, “I’m Ognna Get You”, “It Must Be True”, “After All is Said and Done”, “It Might Have Been You” and “One Kiss.”
Following World War II, Arnheim semi-retired from performing. He appeared briefly in smaller combos and on California television programs before his death in 1955. It was rumored that Arnheim suffered his fatal heart attack while writing new songs in his Beverly Hills home.