He was a vaudeville performer, comedian and singer-songwriter born Benjamin Samberg in Lower East Side, Manhattan, New York, who often used the pseudonyms Paul Wynn and Benny Bimbo and sang in English and Yiddish.
His father had great aspirations for him to become a cantor or rabbi but he preferred to follow a career in music. He began songwriting when he was a teenager and when he was sixteen he composed the novelty “Sweet Violets” which eventually became popular.
Not sticking entirely to song-writing at the time he found himself on Vaudeville as a comedian and in the 1930s he opened up his own record company and became the first to publish comedy albums recorded in Yiddish.
He became known for his risque lyrics and from the mid-1940s his recordings started to be heard on many cocktail bar jukeboxes with “Take a Ship For Yourself” being his first success. Going under his alias of Paul Wynn in 1946 he released his song “Shaving Cream ” with Phil Winston on vocals, which was to be his crowning glory. Not straight away though as it turned out and in the 1950s his popularity had lessened and he took on jobs such as a messenger and busboy.
In 1975 though it regained it’s popularity after having stayed dormant for many years and soon it would be heard as a regular on the radio show hosted by Dr. Demento and become a Top 40 chart hit. This would also lead to a further album release and rejuvenate his live performances, which he would continue to give until he was in his 90s.
Although mainly known for “Shaving Cream ” his other songs, which total over 600, include novelty titles such as “My Grandfather Had a Long One”, “Pincus the Peddler”, “Without Pants”, “I’m Gonna Give My Girl a Goose for Thanksgiving” and “Everybody Loves My Fanny” and also his war-time songs such as “Ship Ahoy, Sailor Boy”.
His work has been heard on his Shaving Cream and Another Close Shave and on Dr. Demento’s 25th Anniversary Collection.
Here is an insight into Benny Bell as told by his grandson…