Violinist David Rubinoff, whose playing on Eddie Cantor's radio show was heard each Sunday evening by millions of Americans during the dark days of the Depression, has died at age 89.
Rubinoff died of respiratory arrest Monday night at a hospital here after a long battle with respiratory illness.
Rubinoff was born in Russia, one of five children of a tobacco factory worker and a laundress. He was 5 when he persuaded his parents to buy him a violin.
Impressed Victor Herbert
He was studying music at the Royal Conservatory of Warsaw in 1911 when he met composer Victor Herbert, who was so impressed he brought the entire Rubinoff family to Pittsburgh.
Rubinoff attended Forbes School in Pittsburgh, where he roomed with John Philip Sousa and became the leader of the school's orchestra. He worked part-time in a cafe, playing his violin, and sold newspapers on the streets.
Rubinoff eventually became a soloist with the Pittsburgh Symphony and went on to guest-conduct orchestras in this country and abroad.
Signed for the Cantor Show
His big break came when he got a job as a regular conductor and soloist at the Paramount in New York City. Rudy Vallee saw him and brought him to the attention of the Chase & Sanborn coffee company, which signed him to an NBC contract for "The Eddie Cantor Show."
From 1931 to 1935 "Rubinoff and His Violin" was a regular feature on the show, also known as "The Chase & Sanborn Hour." The violinist also remained with the program when it moved to CBS from 1935 to 1938.
Although Rubinoff's music was known to millions his voice was not. Reportedly because of his accent, the lines he supposedly read on the air were delivered by Lionel Stander or Teddy Bergman.
Over the years Rubinoff performed at the White House for presidents Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy.