Nathan "Ned" Miller (1899 in London - 1990) was an American composer, music publisher, and actor who wrote the hit songs, "Why Should I Cry Over You", (a waltz ballad) in the 1922 and "Sunday" (a jazz standard) in 1926. In 1982, Ned Miller was inducted into the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) Golden Circle Award group for his life-long contributions to music.
Ned Miller was born in London and emigrated to the United States with his family when he was a small child. At the age of seven, he quit school to support his brothers and sisters by singing on the street corner for pennies a day. In 1922, Ned Miller moved to Chicago and joined with Jack Benny on the vaudeville circuit where Mr. Benny included him in his acts. From that time on, they became life-long friends often collaborating together on television shows, TV specials, and even musical compositions.
Based on his success in vaudeville, Ned Miller began writing music in the early 1920s. Before long, his songs were recorded by Victor Records (acquired by RCA Victor), the Virginians' "Why Should I Cry Over You?" in 1922, the Paul Whiteman Orchestra in 1923, and the Jean Goldkette Orchestra in 1926. In 1926, when Jules Stein was only 17 years old and beginning his career, he collaborated with Ned Miller on “Sunday,” which became a typical “parlor song,” popularly sung by friends and family gathering around the piano for entertainment. Art Tatum included the song in a collection of his Parlor Songs. Al Jolson liked the song so much that he helped promote it. “Sunday” later became the theme song for the 1940’s radio show of husband and wife team Alice Faye and Phil Harris. The song charted three times in 1927. Cliff Edwards (Ukelele Ike) took it to number three: Gene Austin (the “Voice of the Southland”) took it to number 11 accompanied by pianist Abel Baer; and the vaudeville singing trio, the Keller Sisters and Lynch, recorded “Sunday” with the Jean Goldkette Orchestra where their version rose to number 11.
Although “Sunday” hasn’t been recorded often in recent years, it has been performed regularly by a wide variety of noted jazz musicians. Many saxophonists have recorded it: Lester Young, Lee Konitz, and John Coltrane; Ben Webster on two occasions with fellow saxists Gerry Mulligan and Don Byas; Harry Allen with the John Pizzarelli Trio; and Stan Getz with the Oscar Peterson Trio. Other recordings include vibraphonist Red Norvo; trumpeter Sweets Edison; pianists Fats Waller and Hank Jones; and vocalists Maxine Sullivan, Johnny Hartman, Carmen McRae, June Christy, Nat Cole, and Carol Sloane. The multi-Grammy winning vocal quartet, the Manhattan Transfer, closed each episode of their weekly television variety show with the song, "Sunday".
In addition to the hit songs, "Sunday" and "Why Should I Cry Over You", Mr. Miller wrote hundreds of songs during his lifetime, including "Kentucky Lullaby", "Don't Mind The Rain", "What'll You Do", "You Don't Like It--Not Much", "Little Joe", and many others. Mr. Miller also collaborated with Jack Benny and wrote a song, "You're Sweet That Way", in 1962.
Mr. Miller's music, which has been featured on TV programs, in movies, and on radio stations all over the world, has been recorded by Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, Carmen McCrae, Stan Getz, Peggy Lee, the Ink Spots, Johnny Mercer, Andy Williams, and many others.
Mr. Miller also worked for years with Jack Benny on his television shows and NBC specials. He spent the rest of his career with the Jack Benny Program appearing in 22 episodes from 1961-1965. The Jack Benny Program earned 20 Emmy nominations during its run and won seven, including two for Benny himself and one for Best Comedy Series.
Long after retirement, Ned Miller continued to write music for his family, friends, and neighbors. Following his death, at 91 years of age, his grandaughter, Jennifer Gerhold, maintains his music catalog. To this day, Ned Miller's songs continue to be played all over the world.