Biography Of...
Bob Manning

Also See A Short Biography Of Bob Manning Below
One Of Bob's Hits: P.S. I Love You

     On February 1, 1926, Manny Levin was born to Cantor Isadore Levin and his pretty wife Anna.  By the time this bright personality kid was three and a half years old, he was already chanting the ancient Hebrew melodies, standing along side his dad on the pulpit of the synagogue.  This was a great love affair between these two, father and son, and although little Manny didn't particularly like singing in front of all those people, he would do anything even then to please his Dad.  At that time in Manny's young life, he was 
already dreaming of being the greatest baseball player ever, There are times, however, a stronger power up there preordains our destiny. 
     At age twelve, Manny, who never missed an opportunity to play ball with his pals, was finding it more and more difficult to run without pain.  The family realizing there was something wrong when Manny stopped his favorite sport, made the much dreaded trip to the doctor's office.  Their worst fears that all was not well were soon confirmed.  They were told their young son had slipped epiphes of both hips requiring immediate major surgery.  The 
surgery however was not the greatest blow. They were also told that Manny would have to spend the next two and a half years of his young life in bed with not even bathroom privileges, both in traction and braces.  His family later confirmed that their boy never complained, was not bitter and even with one so young had the common sense to realize there was nothing he could do about it but accept it.  He also relied on his ever present sense of humor to 
get through this unfair ordeal.  Outside of a baseball board game which he devised himself, this greatest companion was his radio which literally kept him company twenty-four hours a day.  Realizing that his great dream of one day being a "Hall of Famer" was never to be fulfilled, Manny started making plans for his future in another direction.  He knew from all the attention he always received from the family and friends that he could sing and sing well.   So a new dream was starting to unfold.  He became conscious of the fact that merely singing was not enough but phrasing the lyrics was the major key to being a great singer as opposed to being just a good singer.  His idol at the time was a young singer called Dick Haymes, although Manny loved and admired all the greats of that era.  So he started singing along with the bands on 
radio, working at trying to perfect a style that was right from him, and being a perfectionist and his own severest critic, he knew he could never settle for second best.  One of the first things he realized was that "Manny Levin" was not a real eye-catcher on a marquee, so he decided then and there that "Bob Manning" had a better ring to it and would be more fitting for the great booming sounds that started to come forth with the months and years.   He was later to change his name legally to avoid unnecessary confusion.

     Bob took to his bed at age thirteen, 5'5" tall and emerged at fifteen and a half, a handsome 6'2".  At age eighteen, he started singing with Joe Frasett's band around Philadelphia.  His next break came at age nineteen singing on radio on station WIP in Philadelphia.

     In 1947, Ziggy Elman was auditioning for a singer to travel with his band.  Bob Manning won hands down and he was on his way.  Early on in his career, his fans started mounting.   One of them contacted Bob to see if he would be interested in singing on the Arthur Godfrey talent show.  Bob loved the idea. 
 Upon arriving at rehearsal, he heard an elderly gentleman do a rendition of "Old Man River", and knew the audience would have to succumb to one who was forced to wait until that time of life for his big break.  However, Bob was still happy to come in second as he knew it was one more step in the right direction.

     Bob decided to move to New York City. The struggle was on.  He found many others in the same boat, not only singers, but actors. comics, arrangers, all trying to climb that perennial ladder.  Some of his roommates during that time were Eddie Fisher, B. Mitchell Reed, Joey Forman, Barry Newman, Monty Kelly and the list could go on.  Because nothing like poverty helps to cement strong ties, those that are still around have remained close friends.

     In 1950, Bob joined the Art Mooney orchestra fro a full year.  He also started working various smaller clubs in Philadelphia and New York.  In 1952, Tommy Dorsey beckoned so Bob found himself on the road again for another six months.  Plagued by persistent pain from the still not corrected hip problem, he wanted to get away from the grind of the constant travel.

     He started a recording career.  During that time, a promising new young singer was recording her very first record.  Her name was Eydie Gorme.  Bob was just signed to the same obscure label called "Magic Records".  The company decided to pair these two youngsters in a duo, so they recorded a little piece of fluff called M & X.  Unfortunately, the company didn't put the "Magic" where it could do the most good like the promotion and distribution, so no one could find it to buy it.  Bob introduced Eydie to another young singer called Steve Lawrence, Bob and Eydie went their separate 
ways and the rest is history.

     Bob then went on the record on MGM but soon got discouraged when nothing seemed to be happening.  He knew the sound that he was striving for had not been fulfilled on any of his recording sessions. So with the help of a very close friend who believed in Bob's talent, they decided to finance four sides and complete a master to sell to the major labels.

     Monty Kelly did the arrangements and for the first time in his career, Bob heard the sounds he wanted to hear.  Of the four sides, everyone knew that Bob had a big hit in the lovely ballad "The Nearness Of You".  The masters were touted to all of the large companies and everyone was buying.   However, Bob had a special feeling for Capital Records, sold his masters to them, signed his contracts and was there for the next four years.  Of course, 
"Nearness" lived up to everyone's expectations and gave Bob his first smash hit.  He then went on to record such classics as "The Very Thought Of You", "It's Easy To Remember" and a novelty ballad called "My Love Song To You", that was kicked off on the Jackie Gleason Show and retitled "The Garbage Can Song".  That turned into another monster hit for this talented performer.  In 
addition to his more than fifty singles on MGM.  Capitol, and RCA, he recorded an album with Capital entitled "Lonely Spell" that got a great reception and another album for Everest Records called "Our Wedding Songs" that became a collectors item for young and old.

     Bob started hitting the charts in a big way and was rewarded by being voted most promising singer by Downbeat, Metronome, Billboard, Cash Box and Variety.  The Disc Jockeys loved him and his talent.  Outside of performing in leading night clubs around the country and taking time out to have more operations to correct his ever painful hip condition, Bob managed to do some great T.V. spots.  Among them were the Colgate Comedy Hour, Jackie Gleason, Ed Sullivan, Dick Clark, Joey Bishop and a host of others.

     Cantor Isadore Levin is no longer with his son in body, but Bob feels his presence wherever he may be.  He feels secure in knowing that his Dad's love, his faith, his compassion will always be a part of his life.  Bob really did follow in his Dad's footsteps, he just embarked on a different road.

A Short Biography Of Bob Manning
Bob Manning's real name was Manny Levin. He was born February 1, 1926, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. 

A highly accomplished, but underrated ballad singer, whose career has probably suffered because his voice bore an uncanny similarity to that of the more popular Dick Haymes. Influenced by the singers and bands of the "Swing Era", Manning sang in Philadelphia hotels and had his own show on a local radio station before joining the newly formed Ziggy Elman outfit in 1947. He then worked for short periods with Art Mooney and Tommy Dorsey, and made an impressive appearance on the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts program. 

Unable to secure a contract with a major record company, Manning persuaded a friend to finance a recording session, out of which came "The Nearness Of You", a classic performance, and reportedly composer Hoagy Carmichael 's favorite version of his song. It was picked up by Capitol Records, and entered the US Top 20 in 1953.

The singer had further success with "All I Desire" and "Venus De Milo", and also released a tasteful collection of standards entitled Lonely Spell. Most of the tracks on that album were re-released in 1994.

Like so many other classy singers, Bob Manning was overtaken by the advent of rock "n" roll in the late 50s, and faded into the background.