TQ0966 : Marriage Certificate of Jerome Kern & Eva Leale

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In 1909 American composer Jerome Kern (1885 – 1945) was visiting Walton-on-Thames with two friends and went into the Swan Hotel for some food and refreshments. They stayed for many hours with Jerome playing the hotel’s piano. They were served by Eva Leale (1891 – 1959) the landlord’s beautiful daughter and he fell in love with her. They married in St Mary’s Church at Walton the following year. He spent a lot of time at the pub and wrote some of his songs there. During his lifetime he wrote almost 1,500 songs and is arguably the father of American musical theatre. His songs including “Ol’ Man River”, “Rock a Bye Baby”, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”, “Sunny” and many others which are still commonly sung today. The couple were happily married for 34 years and his wife Eve and their daughter were at his beside when he died at the age of 60 in New York, the city where he was also born. US President Ronald Regan declared 27th January 1985, one hundred years after his birth, to be Jerome Kern Day and it was celebrated throughout the country. A memorial concert was also held in St Mary’s Church to mark the occasion. Today on a wall inside The Swan you can see this framed copy of Eva and Jerome’s marriage certificate.