BRIDGEPORT, Pa. — For people of a certain age, the name Barry Wood has significance, while the name is one lost to the sands of time for the majority of the crowd. But the former Yale University water polo player has a significance in history as the original singer on the NBC radio program Your Hit Parade which launched the career of Frank Sinatra.
Born on February 12, 1909 in New Haven, Conn, as Louis Rappaport, he attended his hometown university where he swam and played water polo. The sideman (studio singer/musician) for Buddy Rogers’s band, he left Rogers to become a singer, and he eventually signed on at Your Hit Parade, where he maintained his popularity for several years.
Wood was identified with several popular wartime songs. In 1941 he introduced and recorded Irving Berlin’s “Any Bonds Today?” and “Arms for the Love of America”. In 1942, recording as Barry Wood and the Wood Nymphs, he had a hit with “We Did It Before (And We Can Do It Again)”, written by Charles Tobias and Cliff Friend; this song became a popular wartime anthem, and was later used in a number of Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoons. Another notable song he recorded for a war bond drive was called “Ev’rybody Ev’ry Payday”, written by Tom Adair and Dick Uhl, and heavily promoted by the radio division of the United States Treasury to encourage workers to purchase bonds through payroll deductions.
Sinatra replaced Wood on Your Hit Parade in 1943. Wood had his own show on NBC from 1943 to 1945, first called The Million Dollar Band and then the Palmolive Party. In 1948, his quarter-hour radio program, Barry Wood Show, was syndicated by Frederick Ziv via electrical transcription – a system of recording a program and then shipping it on record so it could be played in multiple markets.
He later became a television producer. His producing credits included Kate Smith’s show, Wide Wide World, and The Bell Telephone Hour.
Wood died in Miami Beach, Fla., in 1970.