Welcome – About the Project

Mickey Katz (1909-1985) played clarinet, sang parody songs and was an important contributor to American Jewish culture.  He is best known for his Parody songs taking well-known American folk and popular songs and changed the lyrics to express the experience of Eastern European immigrant Jews.  One of his best-known parody songs is “Dovid Crockett,” recorded in the early 1950s, that took the ballad of

mikey“Davy Crockett” but ‘Dovid’ was born on Delancy Street whose frontier was a Jewish world.  Yiddish [the syncretized Germanic and Hebrew language of Eastern European Jews] was featured in his songs with words, concepts and phrases that are translated allowing Yiddish speakers to enjoy their own language.  English and Yiddish are interestingly mixed in his music.

Born in Cleveland, Mickey Katz grew up playing clarinet for Jewish celebrations and in live musicals shows.  In 1946 Spike Jones, the famous musical parodist, hired Mickey Katz.  That year the Katz family moved to Los Angeles.  By 1947 Mickey Katz was on his own, he recorded his first Yiddish-English parody song “Haim Afen Range” which was instantly popular.

This website is a digital collection of visual and musical material to tell the story of his life and many contributions. As indicated materials the digital materials are scans of physical items that are in the Mickey Katz Collection that is a part of the UCLA Jewish Music in Los Angeles Archive.


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