“Makin’ Whoopee” (1928) was a popular song by Gus Kahn. However, it’s believed that “making whoopee” (or, in other words, “to make love”) comes from New York City slang columnist Walter Winchell, perhaps care of 1920s speakeasy owner Texas Guinan.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
whoopee, int. and n.
A. int. (hw-, wpi) An exclamation of exuberant joy. Cf. HOOP-EE int.
1862 Harper’s Mag. July 282/1 He yelled at the top of his voice, ‘Whoopee! Whiskey only twenty-five cents a gallon!’ 1890 KIPLING Barrack-Room Ballads (1892) 32 Whoopee! Tear ‘im, puppy! 1895 Outing XXVI. 428/2 John’s ‘whoopee’ had caused a little ebon..to set open the gates.
B. n. (hw-, wpi; hw-, wupi) Exuberant or boisterous merry-making; revelry; a lively or rowdy party; phr. to make whoopee, to indulge in such behaviour; (in quot. 1928, to behave amorously). Cf. WHOOP-UP. colloq.
1928 G. KAHN Makin’ Whoopee (song), Another bride, another June, Another sunny honeymoon, Another season, another reason for making whoopee!
Makin’ Whoopee - the lyrics
(the common known version)
Words by Gus Kahn
For Makin’ Whoopee. (...)
The music was written by Walter Donaldson, the words by Gus Kahn.
It was part of the Broadway-Musical “Whoopee!” in 1928
Book by William Anthony McGuire
Lyrics by Gus Kahn
Music by Walter Donaldson
Based on “The Nervous Wreck” by Owen David
The original WHOOPEE! was produced by Florenz Ziegfeld in 1928 for New York’s Amsterdam Theatre, home of his world-famous FOLLIES. Starring the irrepressible Eddie
Cantor, this wildly campy and hilarious hi-jinks-filled satire of the Wild West of the 1920’s included a delicious score of hit songs including Love Me or LeaveMe; Yes Sir, That’s my Baby and the title song Makin’ Whoopee!
March 1928, The Bookman, “Sights and Sounds” by Robert Benchley, pg. 64:
The night-club business begins to drag (and when this year’s night-club business begins to drag it won’t be moving at all) and the boys and girls in evening clothes who spend their time in what our Mr. Winchell calls “making whoopee” begin to get cross and snarly and make their whoopee with a grimness which indicates they would much rather be home and in bed.
The Ten Million
by Mark Hellinger (1903-1947)
New York: Farrar & Rinehard, inc.
I happen to know, for example, that Winchell unquestionably coined the word “whoopee” in its modern sense. We sat together in the old Guinan club the night he hit upon it. Yet the men with the long whiskers and the short sights now insist that the credit for “whoopee” goes to Shakespeare. And it wouldn’t surprise me at all if somebody arose tomorrow with the claim that Anthony wired it to Cleopatra whenever he wanted to bury Caesar.
New York City • Music/Dance/Theatre/Film/Circus • Tuesday, July 11, 2006 • Permalink