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
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.
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
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.
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.