A 1962 radio interview with Ellington, conducted by Canadian broadcaster Jack Cullen, is included in the book the Duke Ellington Reader edited by Mark Tucker. Cullen adroitly asked Duke a number of historically pertinent questions, things that had not been adequately covered in previous interviews or biographies of the bandleader. One of the questions concerned Check and Double Check and “Three Little Words.” Ellington explained that Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby had written the tune to be sung by Duke’s drummer Sonny Greer. But Greer had an attack of the jitters, forcing Ellington to engage Bing Crosby for the vocal duties. After cutting a test recording, director Melville W. Brown nixed Crosby in favor of all three Rhythm Boys, who performed the number-- but only on the soundtrack. In a long shot of the band, the film shows trumpeters Freddy Jenkins, Cootie Williams, and Arthur Whetsol holding small megaphones, pretending to sing. The Hollywood film industry, ever subservient to the political correctness of the time, couldn’t have a white vocal group with a black orchestra.
Three little words Oh what I'd give for that wonderful phrase To hear those three little words That's all I'd live for the rest of my days And what I feel in my heart They tell sincerely No other words can tell it half so clear-early Three little words
Eight little letters Which simply mean I love you-ou And what I feel in my heart They tell sincerely No other words can tell it half so clear-early Three little words Eight little letters Which simply mean I love you Simply mean I-I love you-ou