Ish Kabibble Biography

Name at birth: Merwyn Bogue

Ish Kabibble was a cornet player and comic in the Kay Kyser big band from 1931 to 1950. He joined the band as Merwyn Bogue, but Kyser urged him to take on a funny persona as part of the band's routine. In the process he adopted an obscure old song, "Isch Gabibble" (with an altered spelling), as one of his signature numbers. Fans and band members then started calling him by the song's name, and it stuck. Outfitted as a bumpkin with kooky-looking bangs, he regularly stepped out of the trumpet section to interrupt the conductor with silly poems and sayings during live performances and broadcasts of the popular Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge radio and TV shows. He chanted the "boop boop dittem dattem whattem chu" line in the band's 1939 hit "Three Little Fishies," which spent weeks atop the Billboard pop chart. Offstage he doubled as the band's financial manager. From 1955 to 1960 he led his own six-piece Dixieland group, the Shy Guys.

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Some sources list his birthplace as Erie, Pa., where he grew up, but his autobiography designates it as the nearby town of North East, where his family lived briefly... He married Janet Meade in 1932. They had three children: Merwyn (nicknamed Peter), born 1937; Pamela, 1940; and Janet, 1941. All were named Bogue, not Kabibble... Ish Kabibble: The Autobiography of Merwyn Bogue (1989) was co-written with his sister, Gladys Bogue Reilly.

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