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Episode 3: A Comedian Harmonists’ grandchildren remember their grandfather, Erich Collin

Listen to the third episode of the podcast “Who Were the Comedian Harmonists? The True Story Behind Broadway’s ‘Harmony’” — produced by Broadway News and “Harmony.”

(L-R) Erich A. Collin, his father, Dr. Paul Abraham, and his sister, Anne-Marie Collin in 1910; Erich Collin would have been 11 years old (Credit: Courtesy of Deborah Tint)

“I was pretty much raised by my mother and my grandparents up until the age of five,” Marc Alexander told Broadway News. “My grandfather Erich, who was the second tenor of the comedian Harmonists, died in 1961 when I was about nine-and-a-half [but] I have recollection of him in the home until I was about five.”

Alexander and his sister, Deborah Tint, shared memories of their grandfather, Erich Collin, on the latest episode of the podcast “Who Were the Comedian Harmonists? The True Story Behind Broadway’s ‘Harmony.’”

“I would describe him as a very kind, thoughtful person,” Alexander continued. “His temperament was very even-keeled as I remember it. And I have vignettes of him singing in the shower and shaving with a straight razor and fishing with me at Malibu. And he liked the outdoors. He liked to listen to music and he enjoyed doing things with his family and friends.”

“I knew him first as a grandfather, not as a member of the comedian Harmonists — that came later,” Alexander said.

(L-R) Erich Collin in Australia; Erich Collin with his grandson, Marc Alexander, circa 1958 (Credit: Courtesy of Deborah Tint)

Indeed, Collin’s time with the Comedian Harmonists began at age 29. He was the last of the famous six to join the vocal ensemble, but was instrumental in their success.

“Erich was very educated and he was able to speak several languages,” explained the podcast’s resident historian, Jan Grübler. “That was very helpful in the upcoming of the Comedian Harmonists because he could talk to the concert agents from abroad and write letters to them to make the conversation in organizing contracts.”

Despite being raised Christian, Collin was also one of the three Jewish members of the Comedian Harmonists. As seen in “Harmony,” the other Jewish singers — Harry Frommermann and Roman Cycowski — didn’t even know Collin had been born Jewish. Yet, there are some differences between the Collin onstage and the real Collin. 

Through interviews with Alexander, Tint, Grübler and actor Eric Peters, who played Collin in “Harmony,” episode three of “Who Were the Comedian Harmonists?” paints a full portrait of one of the quieter members of the famed group. 

Want to know the specifics of the fortune and fate of the group and its members? Listen to the full debut episode of “Who Were the Comedian Harmonists? The True Story Behind Broadway’s ‘Harmony’” with the player above or download and subscribe to the podcast on platforms including Spotify and Apple Podcasts. New episodes of “Who Were the Comedian Harmonists?” (produced by Broadway News and “Harmony” A New Musical and edited by Daniel Piñeiro) are released on Wednesdays.

Listen to the podcast’s trailer here.

Listen to “Episode 1: The Comedian Harmonists” here.

Listen to “Episode 2: Harry Frommermann, the founder” here.