A video of a 93-year-old man singing an original tune about Hillary Clinton was shared with the presidential candidate’s 3.87 million followers on Twitter. It quickly gained traction online, popping up in posts by Time, AOL and The Huffington Post. The video also garnered thousands of views on YouTube.
It’s certainly been a thrilling experience for Jerry Rosenblum, a longtime Santa Monica resident and loyal Clinton supporter. But although he’s enjoying the spotlight, he’s made it clear that he was enamored ofthe Democratic frontrunner well before he became an Internet sensation.
“I really feel that she is very qualified to lead the country, no question about it,” he said. “When I look at the other candidates, they don’t hold a candle. When she starts really campaigning, people will hear what she has to say. You’ll be amazed how well she’ll handle herself under pressure.”
His conviction about Clinton is seemingly matched only by his youthful energy, quick wit and encyclopedic memory. An artful storyteller, Rosenblum has more vivacity than one might expect from someone who was born during the Warren Harding administration.
The source of his recent fame is the 73-second video he recorded at the encouragement of Katie Miller, a regular volunteer at the Silvercrest Senior Citizens Residence where Rosenblum lives.
“Don’t dilly-dally, let’s all start a rally, don’t hesitate,” he sings in the jingle. “She’s the one you should choose. No one else can fill her shoes. Give her your vote and you won’t sing the blues. So go to the polls, and do as you’re told, and vote for Hillary.”
Rosenblum first saw Clinton’s potential when her husband, former President Bill Clinton, gained prominence as a politician, and his support grew stronger after he read her two autobiographies, 2003’s “Living History” and last year’s “Hard Choices.”
He was gung-ho about Clinton in 2008, though he was impressed enough by challenger Barack Obama that he wasn’t upset when the latter won the Democratic nomination en route to the White House. (At the time, he amended the lyrics of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” to create a Clinton campaign song.)
Then, about a year ago, Rosenblum learned that Clinton would be signing copies of her memories at The Grove in Los Angeles.
“I thought I better get down there early in the morning, otherwise I’ll be 500th in line, and who wants that?” he said. “I get up very early that morning and ended up at The Grove at 7 o’clock in the morning. I start to walk to the Barnes & Noble and I see people standing in line. I realize the line stretches around the corner. I was 500th in line! I thought, ‘What am I doing?’ Then I thought, ‘What the heck, I’m here already.'”
Rosenblum waited for hours for a chance to meet the former Secretary of State.
He said that when he reached Clinton he told her, “When I got in line I was a young man,” drawing a big laugh.
Born in Brooklyn, Rosenblum came to Southern California in 1963 at the recommendation of a doctor who said the mild climate would be better for his mother than the cold winters of New York.
Rosenblum lined up a job as a manager at the Harris & Frank clothing store in the Miracle Mile area of Los Angeles. He said he boosted business by cold-calling people in nearby offices and offering to press their suits or sew on loose buttons.
“Nobody ever did that before,” he said of the promotions.
His success led the company to transfer him to its store on Third Street in Santa Monica. He said the ensuing increase in sales caught the attention of Maurice Mandel, an executive at the rival Mullen and Bluett clothing chain. Rosenblum ended up working for the rival.
Rosenblum moved to Santa Monica in 1971 — he realized how much he liked the area while working here — and he’s called the bayside city home ever since.
He’s made something of a name for himself as a singer on the local senior circuit, an unexpected turn of events considering he had never done any real singing outside of the shower until he was 69.
One day he was asked to fill another singer’s vacancy at a local senior center where his mother spent time, and it was there that others took notice.
So Rosenblum learned more tunes, Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” and “It Was a Very Good Year” are firmly in his wheelhouse, and has since delighted audiences around town.
“The more I sang, the more confidence I got in myself,” he said. “Now, when I go on a cruise, I always get into the karaoke contest, and I’ve won four of them. …
“People say, ‘What was the best time of your life?’ and I tell them, ‘Right now!’ I feel like I’m on vacation every day.”
Contact Jeff Goodman at 310-573-8351, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter.