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Chicago honors Allan Sherman, famed Jewish song parodist

Photo of comedian Allen Sherman from a guest-starring role on the television program The Loner. (CBS)

Photo of comedian Allen Sherman from a guest-starring role on the television program The Loner. (CBS)

This Saturday, as summer closes out and children have hopefully returned from sleep away camp without having contracted ptomaine poisoning or malaria, the city of Chicago will be honoring the 50th anniversary of the release of “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh,” by famed song parodist Allan Sherman.

Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel has declared August 31, 2013 Allan Sherman Day, in honor of the man behind the music.

“Allan Sherman’s unique childhood experiences in Chicago’s great immigrant neighborhoods inspired the Jewish song parodies on his three Gold albums,” Emanuel said in his proclamation.

Born in Chicago, Sherman moved to Los Angeles when he was six. At age 11, after the divorce of his parents and the death of his mother’s second husband, Sherman was sent back to Chicago to live with his maternal grandparents, who greatly shaped his future career.

“It was while Allan lived with his grandparents that he learned Yiddish, was surrounded by family (his mother came from a large family), and became attached to Jewish life,” says Mark Cohen, author of “Overweight Sensation: The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman.” “After one year, Allan was shipped back to LA, but that year in Chicago was the perfect childhood world he always yearned for.”

Not sure how Chicagoans will observe the day, but we plan on taking a moment to remember the time before campers were treated to private concerts by the Jewish Justin Bieber, back when musical experiences were all about singing along to the Sherman classic and hoping to escape the fate of poor Jeffrey Hardy.

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