Short, Robert Waltrip 1924–2005

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SHORT, Robert Waltrip 1924–2005

(Bobby Short)

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born September 15, 1924, in Danville, IL; died of leukemia March 21, 2005, in New York, NY. Musician and author. A fixture at the Café Carlyle in New York since 1968, Short was a popular pianist and vocalist known for his renditions of jazz and other popular standards. Performing from the age of nine, when his father died, Short was playing professionally and making appearances at the Apollo by the time he was just thirteen. He decided to return to his home town in 1938 and finish his high school education, before resuming his career as a full-time performer. During his travels, he became friends with such well-known singers and musicians as Nat King Cole, Art Tatum, and Lena Horne. Despite his extensive experience, Short still felt like an amateur for many years. In 1954 he met composer Phil Moore, who later became his manager. Moore helped Short polish his style and find his musical niche, and by the 1960s the pianist felt he was at last a worthy entertainer. Not long after participating in a Greenwich Village revue of Cole Porter songs in 1965, he was hired by the Carlyle hotel, where he became a permanent act. Short's fashionable clothing and classy performances made the Café Carlyle a cultural icon of New York City that was admired by the likes of film director Woody Allen, who often made reference to the café in his movies. In addition to his performing career, however, Short was also an accomplished jazz scholar who tried to share his knowledge of African-American music with others. He was the author of two autobiographical books: Black and White Baby (1971) and Bobby Short: The Life and Times of a Saloon Singer (1995).



Black and White Baby, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1971.

Short, Bobby, and Robert Mackintosh, Bobby Short: The Life and Times of a Saloon Singer, C. Potter (New York, NY), 1995.


Chicago Tribune, March 22, 2005, section 1, p. 5.

Los Angeles Times, March 22, 2005, p. B8.

New York Times, March 22, 2005, p. C17.

Times (London, England), March 23, 2005, p. 62.