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Ish Kabibble: 1950s

Las Vegas from a different era. 35mm Kodachrome slide. View full size.

Las Vegas from a different era. 35mm Kodachrome slide. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

1956 or later

Fremont Hotel opened 5/56

They did that on purpose

I'm sure PatQ and others probably guessed, but engineers deliberately designed air conditioning systems to run at a slight positive pressure to make the cold air spill out, just to entice the customer indoors. One engineer, sometime before 1920, called it "advertising air". This was in reference to vaudeville/movie theaters, which had been avoided like the plague during hot weather. Air conditioning flipped the tables entirely; after all, nobody had that luxury at home.

This I remember from Gail Cooper's Air Conditioning America, which I currently do not have at hand, having loaned it out. Google Books tells me it's on page 105.

See Wikipedia

According to a flicker page I came across, one theory is that the name Ish Kabibble derives from the Yiddish "Ische ga bibble?," which translates to "What, me worry?"

However, a comment on that page says it came from a 1913 pop song (which I suppose could have still been based off the Yiddish).

The other thing I want to add is that it appears even in the 50s, old people were drawn to Vegas to spend their retirement/social security checks. And that was before the days of video poker!

The Four Gems

Found a few mentions of The Four Gems via Google News Archive-described as "Terrific 4-Part Harmony Vocals and Instrumental Groupings" for an New Year's Eve appearance in Aliquippa, PA in 1957.

No Gems!

Whilst I can find many references on-line to Mr. Ragon and his Orchestra I can't come up with anything regarding the Four Gems which, I am assuming, was the name for a singing group.

Maybe they were a local group and did not achieve any national exposure.
Anyone know?

So that's where he got it

When I was a kid my dad used to use "Ish Kabibble!" as non-profanity. I thought it was just a nonsense phrase he made up.

Ish and the Beatles

When the Beatles hit, my mom said that they looked silly with those "Ish Kabibble haircuts."

For years, I thought that was just a silly word she had made up. Then I saw a photo of Ish Kabibble and it all made sense!

Fictitious character (sort of)

I always thought Ish Kabibble was a fictitious character made up by some comedian! I was horrified to think that someone actually named their child that, but relieved that it was a stage name! At any rate, it is a pretty memorable moniker!


I first heard of Ish Kabibble on an episode of "All in the Family." Maude was telling the family how Archie would laugh when Kay Kyser introduced Ish.

Maude was asked if it was funny. She responded, "Like a migraine."

"Hey Ish Kabibble, comb your hair before we go out"

My long departed grandmother used to call me Ish Kabibble when she thought I was looking messy or otherwise unpresentable. I never never thought to ask what it meant.

As someone mentioned above, "I always learn something from Shorpy."

Being in awe of it all when I was a kid

The memories when we traveled through Las Vegas on our way to California, from Texas, in 1954 are still vibrant. The sounds of real silver dollars in the hands of the gamblers. The smell of cigarette smoke permeating the air in the dining rooms, casinos and hotel rooms. The bright neon lights and the colorful slot machines beckoning the players to enter the casinos and play. The big cars, including our 1952 Olds 98, were beautiful and oh so many Cadillacs in Las Vegas. I was so elated when my dad gave me my weekly allowance in the form of a silver dollar. I still have an old paper place setting from the coffee shop at the old Horseshoe Club downtown. Instead of buckets, the casinos gave the players paper bags to hold their winnings at the nickel slots. Indeed, the Mafia knew how to give people a good time back then.

The Polar Attraction

The key elements of "Lost Wages" are in place, only to be greatly expanded in years to come - colorful neon, good luck symbols, and something I clearly recall from the late '50s -- the almost magnetic attraction of the ice cold air pouring out of those corner entrances to draw you in off the hot street.

And all this time

I thought his name was Ishka Bibble.

I always learn something from Shorpy.

Vegas Date

Another shot in this series from Tony has a 1956 Chevy in the background.

Love this photo

I used to travel to Las Vegas before it changed into its current configuration. I love seeing how it used to be.

Kay Kyser’s Kollege of Musical Knowledge

Ish Kabibble (Merwyn Bogue) was the comic relief for the Kay Kyser Orchestra and a cornet player in his band. In the 1930s & 40s, Kay Kyser was a major musical entity in radio, the movies and later in television. This Las Vegas show was probably after Kyser retired and Bogue took over the band.

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