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Richard Adler

born on 3/8/1921 in New York City, NY, United States

died on 21/6/2012 in Southampton, NY, United States

Richard Adler

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Richard Adler

Richard Adler (August 3, 1921 June 21, 2012) was an American lyricist, writer, composer and producer of several Broadway shows.

Life and career

Adler was born in New York City, the son of Elsa Adrienne (née Richard) and Clarence Adler.[1] His mother was a "debutante" from Mobile, Alabama.[2] Adler had a musical upbringing, his father being a concert pianist. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and served in the U.S. Naval Reserve during World War II.[3] After his Navy service he began his career as a lyricist, teaming up with Jerry Ross in 1950. As a duo they worked in tandem, both taking credit for lyrics and music.

The Adler & Ross Years (1950-1955)

After establishing their partnership, Adler and Ross quickly became protégés of composer, lyricist and publisher Frank Loesser. Their first notable composition was the song "Rags to Riches", which was recorded by Tony Bennett and reached number 1 on the charts in late 1953.

At the same time Bennett's recording was topping the charts, Adler and Ross began their career in Broadway theater with John Murray Anderson's Almanac, a revue for which they provided most of the songs.

Adler and Ross's second Broadway effort, The Pajama Game, opened in May 1954 and was a popular as well as a critical success, winning Tony Awards as well as the Donaldson Award and the Variety Drama Critics Award. Three songs from the show were covered by popular artists and made the upper reaches of the US Hit Parade: Patti Page's version of "Steam Heat" reached #9; Archie Bleyer took "Hernando's Hideaway" to #2; and Rosemary Clooney's recording of "Hey There" made it to #1.

Opening almost exactly a year later, their next vehicle, Damn Yankees replicated the awards and success of the earlier show. Cross-over hits from the show were "Heart", recorded by Eddie Fisher and "Whatever Lola Wants", by Sarah Vaughan.

The duo had authored the music and lyrics for three great Broadway successes in three years, and had seen over a half-dozen of their songs reach the US top ten, two of them peaking at #1. However, their partnership was cut short when Ross died of a lung ailment[3] in November 1955, aged 29.

Later work

Adler continued to write both alone and with other partners, and composed a major 1958 hit in collaboration with Robert Allen: "Everybody Loves a Lover", as recorded by Doris Day. However, after 1955 Adler had no further successes on Broadway either as a composer or a producer, although revivals of The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees have proved popular. He wrote the musical Olympus 7-0000 for the show ABC Stage 67. The 1973 revival of The Pajama Game included one new Adler song, which was retained for the 2006 revival.

Adler's last original Broadway musical was 1976's Music Is (lyrics by Will Holt, music by Adler) which was based on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

In 2000, Debelah Morgan based her song "Dance With Me" on a sample of the Adler & Ross song "Hernando's Hideaway" from The Pajama Game. Adler & Ross consequently received co-composer credits on the track, which reached #8 on the US Billboard chartsand made Adler the unlikely 79-year-old co-composer of a 21st-century popular R&B hit.

In 2001, some Adler & Ross songs originally written for The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees were featured in the Broadway musical Fosse, about the work of Bob Fosse.

He also composed several symphonic and ballet pieces, including one to celebrate the Statue of Liberty's centennial.[3]

Adler staged and produced several shows for U.S. presidents; the most notable of these was a 1962 Madison Square Garden birthday celebration for John F. Kennedy that included Marilyn Monroe singing a version of Happy Birthday to the president in her trademark breathy voice.[3]

He is a member of the Songwriter's Hall of Fame.[3]

Personal life

Adler had two sons Andrew and Christopher (d. 1984) and a daughter, Katherine. Adler died on June 21, 2012 at his home in Southampton, New York, survived by his wife, Susan A. Ivory.[4]

Selected works

Broadway and television work

As composer/lyricist, unless otherwise noted:

  • Stop the Music - Writer; series aired 1949 to 1956
  • John Murray Anderson's Almanac Musical December 10, 1953June 26, 1954 (with Jerry Ross)
  • The Pajama Game Musical, Comedy May 13, 1954November 24, 1956 (with Jerry Ross)
  • Damn Yankees Musical, Comedy May 5, 1955October 12, 1957 (with Jerry Ross)
  • The Sin of Pat Muldoon Play March 13, 1957March 16, 1957 (Producer only - no music in play)
  • Gift of the Magi TV musical featuring then wife Sally Ann Howes. December 9, 1958
  • Kwamina Musical. Featured then-wife Sally Ann Howes. October 23, 1961November 18, 1961
  • A Mother's Kisses September 21 to October 19, 1968 three weeks of out-of-town tryouts in New Haven and Baltimore only. It was cancelled before it reached Broadway. Featured Bea Arthur and Bernadette Peters
  • Rex Musical April 25, 1976June 5, 1976 (Producer only. Music by Richard Rogers, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick)
  • Music Is Musical comedy December 20, 1976December 26, 1976 (Composer only. Lyrics by Will Holt.)
  • Fosse Musical, Revue, Dance January 14, 1999August 25, 2001 (Includes Adler & Ross works originally written for Damn Yankees and The Pajama Game)

Broadway revivals

  • The Pajama Game December 9, 1973February 3, 1974
  • Damn Yankees March 3, 1994August 6, 1995
  • The Pajama Game February 23, 2006June 11, 2006 (starring Harry Connick Jr, Kelli O'Hara, Michael McKean)

Popular songs

  • "Rags To Riches" (with Jerry Ross)
  • "Hey, There" (with Jerry Ross)
  • "Hernando's Hideaway" (with Jerry Ross)
  • "Steam Heat" (with Jerry Ross)
  • "Whatever Lola Wants" (with Jerry Ross)
  • "Everybody Loves A Lover" (Words by Adler, music by Robert Allen)
  • "Another Time, Another Place" (Words and music by Adler, from the 1961 musical Kwamina)
  • "Heart" (with Jerry Ross)
  • "I'm Not at All in Love" (with Jerry Ross)

Awards, nominations and honors

  • Tony Awards
    • 1955 Best Musical The Pajama Game (music and lyrics)
    • 1956 Best Musical Damn Yankees (music and lyrics)
    • 1962 Best Composer nomination Kwamina (music)
  • Four Pulitzer Nominations
  • Two Donaldson Awards
  • Two Variety Critics Awards
  • London Evening Standard Award
  • Colgate Distinguished Service Award
  • Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984.
  • National Park Service Honorary Ranger Award
  • Emmy Award
  • Southampton Cultural Center Achievement Award for Theater (1993)
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Lifetime Achievement Award
  • ASCAP Richard Rodgers Award
  • Honorary Doctorate in Music and Theater Wagner College


  • Richard Adler with Lee Davis (1990). You Gotta Have Heart, Donald I. Fine, Inc..


  1. Richard Adler Biography (1921-). (1921-08-03). Retrieved on 2012-11-07.
  2. Clarence Adler. (2012-10-18). Retrieved on 2012-11-07.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Musical composer, lyricist Richard Adler dies at 90, June 22, 2012.
  4. Simonson, Robert."Richard Adler, Composer of 'Pajama Game' and 'Damn Yankees', Dies at 90", June 22, 2012

External links

  • Richard Adler at the Songwriters' Hall of Fame
  • Richard Adler at the Internet Movie Database
  • Richard Adler at the Internet Broadway Database
  • Biography on Music Theater International [1]
  • Whatever Lola Wants - Sarah Vaughan [2]

Musicals of Richard Adler and Jerry Ross
John Murray Anderson's Almanac The Pajama Game Damn Yankees

Songs: Rags to Riches Hey There Hernando's Hideaway Steam Heat Whatever Lola Wants Heart I'm Not at All in Love
Related articles: Harry on Broadway, Act I The Pajama Game Dance with Me
Musicals of Richard Adler: The Sin of Pat Muldoon The Gift of the Magi Kwamina A Mother's Kisses Rex Music Is

This page was last modified 27.03.2014 21:19:18

This article uses material from the article Richard Adler from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and it is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.