Dave Apollon was born in Kiev, Russia, in 1897. Originally a student of the violin, he was known during his time as the World’s greatest mandolin virtuoso. He began playing the mandolin at a young age and apparently taught himself.By the young age of 14, he was performing on the instrument in theaters, but a stint as a soldier during the Russian Revolution stalled his burgeoning career. In 1919, he decided to escape the hardships of the Russian Revolution and made his way to America. He performed in vaudeville, and in 1926 he met a group of Philippine string players who had just lost their job in another show. He immediately hired them to be his “orchestra” and began working up the routines and musical numbers that would be part of his show. In 1930, he embarked on a motion picture career, filming the first of six musical shorts. In 1937, he was featured in Universal’s “Merry Go ‘Round of 1938”, his only full-length American film .
I found a filmed fragment from around this time of a performance featuring Dave Apollon and his Philippine band performing "Sweet Sue".
Dave Apollon recorded a series of performances for the Decca label, accompanied by piano and guitar. These recordings remain the best examples of his virtuosic talent on his chosen instrument. Noted mandolin players such as David Grisman regularly list him as a significant influence, and some years ago Grisman released a double-cd featuring all recordings by Apollon 1930-1956 on the Acoustic Disc label (ACD27). Learn more at the Acoustic Disc website, to be reached clicking here
Apollon moved to California in the early '50s and this led to a performance contract with the Desert Inn in Las Vegas that would last until 1963. Billing himself as "The World's Greatest Mandolin Virtuoso", Apollon's dancing and playing performances were a big hit with the Las Vegas audiences. His Las Vegas experiences were the last performances of his colorful life. Apollon passed away in 1972.
I found a TV-performance from 1951 featuring Apollon on mandolin and Victor Borge on piano, hope you to enjoy it.