Gitz Ingraham Rice was born on 5 March 1891 in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, to parents Amos Ingraham and Eliza Gray (nee Simpson) Rice. As a child, he was given the nickname “Gitz” by his eldest brother Charles Parker Rice.
Rice studied at the Conservatory of Music, McGill University, before joining the Canadian Expeditionary Force following the outbreak of the First World War. Rice enlisted in what became the First Canadian Contingent, the day after Britain had declared war against Germany. He served on the Western Front, with the 5th Battery, 2nd Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery.
On occasion, Rice played piano with the Canadian concert party Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Comedy Company. Whilst on active service he composed a number of songs, including “Dear Old Pal of Mine”, which had been popularised through a recording by the singer John McCormack.
Rice was one of many soldiers who were gassed at Vimy Ridge in April 1917. Following this, he was invalided and returned to Canada. He was later appointed officer in charge of musical entertainment of Canadian troops.
In 1919, Rice moved to New York and for many years worked as a pianist for various vaudeville acts, whilst continuing to compose music. He found great success with his act “Gitzy Rice and His North West Mounted Police”. During the Second World War, Rice worked for the Canadian concert parties for a short time.
He married the film actress Ruby Hoffman in New York in 1918. They had two children.
Gitz Ingraham Rice died on 16 October 1947 in New York, aged 56.