The Entertainer

Album: The Complete Scott Joplin (1902)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • This rag was composed by Scott Joplin, the first classically trained black composer to become a household name in America. The piece was copyrighted December 29, 1902; copies were received by the Copyright Office, January 8, 1903.

    Joplin died in April 1917; although his place in the history of contemporary music was already secured, he predicted that he would not receive the recognition he deserved until 25 years after his death.
  • Ragtime was eventually succeeded by jazz, and although there was a revival in the 1940s, Joplin's prediction was not truly fulfilled until 1973 when "The Entertainer" was used as the theme music for the multiple Oscar winning film The Sting. The score took one of these Oscars; it included five other Joplin rags, all of which were adapted by Marvin Hamlisch.

    Along with Joshua Rifkin's million-selling 1970 album of Joplin recordings, the success of The Sting and its chart-topping soundtrack helped bring ragtime back to the mainstream. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2
  • Hamlisch's rendition peaked at #3 on the Hot 100 in May 1974.
  • Hamlisch on adapting Joplin's tunes for The Sting: "From the beginning, [director] George Roy Hill's idea had always been to use the ragtime music of Scott Joplin. I was well aware that there were other musicians who knew the music of Scott Joplin far more intimately than I, men who had popularized Joplin's famous piano 'rags.' But I knew how to write for film, marrying music to the length of each scene, and I could also play the piano 'rags' - those Juilliard piano lessons were about to pay off.

    The real fun came for me when we started recording the soundtrack. We didn't have a full-size orchestra, as with The Way We Were, but we had eight or nine great musicians, with yours truly at the keyboard. We spent hours making ragtime; the piano player in me had found a long-lost brother in Scott Joplin."
  • This was used in several episodes of The Simpsons, including the 1997 episode "The City Of New York Vs. Homer Simpson." It plays during a flashback sequence of a young Homer being robbed in New York City.
  • This was also featured in these TV shows:

    Westworld ("Journey Into Night" - 2018)
    Another Period ("Joplin" - 2016, "The Seance" - 2018)
    Doctor Who ("The Lie Of The Land" - 2017)
    Atlanta ("Juneteenth" - 2016)
    Crazy Ex-Girlfriend ("Where Is Josh's Friend?" - 2016)
    Community ("Grifting 101" - 2015)
    House ("Half-Wit" - 2007)
    How I Met Your Mother ("Drumroll, Please" - 2006)
    Degrassi ("Queen Of Hearts" - 2004)
    Malcolm In The Middle ("Old Mrs. Old" - 2001)


    And in these movies:

    The Addams Family (2019)
    Little England (2013)
    Happy, Texas (1999)
    College (1927)

Comments: 1

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn this day in 1974 {August 28th} Marvin Hamlisch was a guest on the nationally syndicated weekday-afternoon television program, 'The Mike Douglas Show'...
    Three months earlier on May 12th, 1974 his "The Entertainer" peaked at #3 {for 2 weeks} on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart and it spent sixteen weeks on the chart...
    "The Entertainer" reached #1 {for 1 week} on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
    Also in 1974 he won three Academy Awards; 'Best Original Song' for "The Way We Were" from the film of the same name, 'Best Dramatic Score' for 'The Way We Were', and 'Best Adaptation Score' for the film 'The Sting'...
    Marvin Frederick Hamlisch passed away at the age of 68 on August 6th, 2012...
    May he R.I.P.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Roger McGuinn of The Byrds

Roger McGuinn of The ByrdsSongwriter Interviews

Roger reveals the songwriting formula Clive Davis told him, and if "Eight Miles High" is really about drugs.

Ed Roland of Collective Soul

Ed Roland of Collective SoulSongwriter Interviews

The stories behind "Shine," "December," "The World I Know" and other Collective Soul hits.

Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty

Rob Thomas of Matchbox TwentySongwriter Interviews

Rob Thomas on his Social Distance Sessions, co-starring with a camel, and his friendship with Carlos Santana.

AC/DC

AC/DCFact or Fiction

Does Angus really drink himself silly? Did their name come from a sewing machine? See if you can spot the real stories about AC/DC.

Subversive Songs Used To Sell

Subversive Songs Used To SellSong Writing

Songs about drugs, revolution and greed that have been used in commercials for sneakers, jeans, fast food, cruises and cars.

Michael Glabicki of Rusted Root

Michael Glabicki of Rusted RootSongwriter Interviews

Michael tells the story of "Send Me On My Way," and explains why some of the words in the song don't have a literal meaning.