In westerns, the saloon pianist never gets any respect. Always a foil and never once a hero, he's there in a thousand movies, utterly nondescript in his bowler and gartered sleeve—a professional dweeb who plays "Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight" too fast and if he's lucky gets to accompany Ann Sheridan or Angela Lansbury, but whose primary job is to duck like a clown as soon as the fists or bullets start flying. Who is this guy? Was he schooled, did he have a wife and kids, did he audition for the gig, could he read music, did he have a day job, was he paid tips or salary, was he a solid citizen or a drifter, where did he find material, did he ever get applause, did he have to bring his own garter? In real life, the job was not without allure. The adolescent Irving Berlin, for one, could think of no... More >>>