Alan Jay Lerner


Lyricist

About

Birth Place
New York City, New York, USA
Born
August 31, 1918
Died
June 14, 1986
Cause of Death
Lung Cancer

Biography

Scion of the Lerner Shops fortune whose elegant lyrics reflected the sophisticated world of style and wit in which he lived. A chance meeting in 1942 with German-born composer Frederick Loewe who was fourteen years his senior resulted in one of the most productive and prosperous collaborations in the American musical theater. Wedded to Loewe's operetta-inspired melodious tunes, Lerner's ...

Family & Companions

Ruth Boyd
Wife
Divorced.
Marion Bell
Wife
Actor, singer. Married in 1947; divorced in 1948; starred on Broadway in "Brigadoon" (1947); died on December 14, 1997 at age 78.
Nancy Olson
Wife
Actor. Third wife; married March 19, 1950; divorced in 1957.
Micheline Mussellin Posso di Bergo
Wife
Married December 20, 1957; divorced.

Bibliography

"Alan Jay Lerner: A Biography"
Edward Jablonski, Henry Holt & Co (1996)
"The Wordsmiths: Oscar Hammerstein 2d and Alan Jay Lerner"
Stephen Citron, Oxford University Press (1995)
"The Musical Theater: A Celebration"
Alan Jay Lerner (1986)
"On The Street Where I Live"
Alan Jay Lerner (1978)

Notes

He served as president of the Dramatists Guild of America (1958-62)

He served on the President's Committee for the Cultural Center (Kennedy Center) in Washington DC (1962)

Biography

Scion of the Lerner Shops fortune whose elegant lyrics reflected the sophisticated world of style and wit in which he lived. A chance meeting in 1942 with German-born composer Frederick Loewe who was fourteen years his senior resulted in one of the most productive and prosperous collaborations in the American musical theater. Wedded to Loewe's operetta-inspired melodious tunes, Lerner's lyrics and his archly romantic and literary librettos--which skillfully integrated music, character and story into a seamless whole--elevated the post-war musical to new heights of sophistication and intelligence. Together Lerner and Loewe created a string of Broadway hits all of which Lerner adapted to film: "Brigadoon" (1954), "My Fair Lady" (1964) "Camelot" (1967) and "Paint Your Wagon" (1969).

After Loewe's retirement in 1960, Lerner collaborated far less successfully with Burton Lane ("On a Clear Day You Can See Forever" and "Carmelina") Andre Previn ("Coco"), Leonard Bernstein ("1600 Pennsylvania Avenue") and Charles Strouse ("Dance a Little Closer").

Hailed by Leonard Bernstein as a "gentleman genius," Lerner also wrote the screenplay for "Royal Wedding" (1951), and won Oscars for his scripts for "An American in Paris" (1952) and the nine Oscar-winner, "Gigi" (1958), Lerner and Loewe's first original screen musical. In 1974 Loewe came out of retirement to create another original screen musical "The Little Prince." Three of Lerner's eight marriages were to actresses: Marion Bell (1947-48), Nancy Olson (1950-57) and Liz Robertson (1981 until his death in 1986).

Filmography

 

Writer (Feature Film)

The Little Prince (1974)
Screenwriter
On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970)
Screenwriter
Camelot (1967)
Screenwriter
My Fair Lady (1964)
Screenwriter
Gigi (1958)
Screenwriter
Brigadoon (1954)
Screenwriter
Royal Wedding (1951)
Story and Screenplay
An American in Paris (1951)
Story and Screenplay

Producer (Feature Film)

Paint Your Wagon (1969)
Producer

Music (Feature Film)

Breathe (2017)
Song
The Post (2017)
Song
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014)
Song
What's Your Number? (2011)
Song
Sex and the City 2 (2010)
Song
Valentine's Day (2010)
Song
Elegy (2008)
Song Performer
Elegy (2008)
Song
Married Life (2007)
Song Performer
Married Life (2007)
Song
The Lake House (2006)
Song
Confetti (2006)
Music Composer
50 First Dates (2004)
Song
The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002)
Song ("There'S A Coach Comin' In")
Me, Myself and Irene (2000)
Song
Blast from the Past (1999)
Song ("On The Street Where You Live")
Antz (1998)
Song
Wag the Dog (1997)
Song
Flubber (1997)
Song
My Father the Hero (1994)
Song
That's Entertainment! III (1994)
Theme Lyrics
Forrest Gump (1994)
Song
Groundhog Day (1993)
Song
Citizen Cohn (1992)
Theme Lyrics
The Fred Astaire Songbook (1991)
Theme Lyrics
Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)
Song
Family Business (1989)
Song
Lost Angels (1989)
Song
Secret Places (1984)
Song ("Secret Places")
Tribute (1980)
Song
The Little Prince (1974)
Lyrics
On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970)
Composer
Paint Your Wagon (1969)
Composer
The Girl and the Bugler (1967)
Composer
Camelot (1967)
Composer
My Fair Lady (1964)
Composer
Gigi (1958)
Composer
Brigadoon (1954)
Composer
Royal Wedding (1951)
Composer

Production Companies (Feature Film)

On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970)
Company

Cast (Special)

The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts (1985)

Writer (Special)

Brigadoon (1966)
Source Material

Music (Special)

Michael Crawford in Concert (1998)
Lyrics ("On The Street Where You Live")
Great Performers at Lincoln Center: A Celebration of the American Musical (1997)
Theme Lyrics
Julie Andrews in Concert (1990)
Theme Lyrics
An Evening With Alan Jay Lerner (1989)
Theme Lyrics
Camelot (1982)
Lyrics
Brigadoon (1966)
Theme Lyrics

Special Thanks (Special)

Brigadoon (1966)
Source Material

Life Events

1942

Wrote lyrics for first musical collaboration with Frederick Loewe, "The Life of the Party", presented in Detroit

1943

First Broadway musical with Loewe, "What's Up?"; Was a flop

1947

First Broadway hit musical, "Brigadoon"

1951

Wrote first screenplay, "An American in Paris"

1965

Produced first Broadway musical, "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever" (also lyricist and librettist)

1983

Directed first Broadway musical, "Dance a Little Closer"

1986

Sued by IRS for $1.4 million in taxes and late penalties

Videos

Movie Clip

American in Paris, An (1951) - A Simple Girl Variations on Gershwin's "Embraceable You" support Henri (Georges Guetary) as he describes his girlfriend Lise (Leslie Caron) to Adam (Oscar Levant) in a fantasy musical sequence in An American In Paris, 1951.
American in Paris, An (1951) - Opening, This Is Paris The opening sequence from Vincente Minnelli's An American in Paris, 1951, which offers a brief tour of Paris and introduces "Jerry," the Gene Kelly character.
Gigi (1958) - The Night They Invented Champagne Leslie Caron (title character) has defeated (Louis Jourdan) at cards, whereupon he honors his bet, and they, with Madame Alvarez (Hermione Gingold) launch Lerner and Loewe's "The Night They Invented Champagne," in Gigi, 1958.
South Pacific (1958) - Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair Mitzi Gaynor as nurse Ensign Nellie Forbush, created in James Michener’s WWII stories, first seen on Broadway (Mary Martin) and given voice by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, directed on stage and screen by Joshua Logan, with a song that was Martin’s idea, shooting in Hawaii, and Rossano Brazzi her subject, in South Pacific, 1958.
Gigi (1958) - The Parisians Leslie Caron (title character) after her session training as a courtesan, launching into Lerner and Loewe's "The Parisians," tripping about the city in Vincente Minnelli's Gigi, 1958.
Royal Wedding (1951) - How Could You Believe Me... Jane Powell and Fred Astaire as Brother-Sister Act "Tom and Ellen Bowen," performing the Burton Lane and Alan Jay Lerner tune with a very long name in Royal Wedding, 1951, choreography by Nick Castle.
Gigi (1958) - Thank Heaven For Little Girls After the elaborate overture and opening, Lachaille (Maurice Chevalier) with the famous Lerner and Loewe number "Thank Heaven For Little Girls," from Vincente Minnelli's best picture winner Gigi, 1958.
Gigi (1958) - Are They Difficult? Leslie Caron (title character) gets a lesson in dining room etiquette from her Aunt Alicia (Isabel Jeans) in this scene from Gigi, 1958, directed by Vincente Minnelli.
My Fair Lady (1964) - Wouldn't It Be Loverly? Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle performs Wouldn't It Be Loverly? (vocal by Marni Nixon) early in the Best Picture-winning Lerner and Loewe musical, directed by George Cukor, My Fair Lady, 1964.
My Fair Lady (1964) - Opening, Overture The famous flower montage by director George Cukor, Andre Previn conducting the overture from the Lerner and Loewe score, opening My Fair Lady, 1964, starring Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn.
My Fair Lady (1964) - The Rain in Spain Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn, vocal by Marni Nixon) demonstrates her improved elocution to Professor Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison), Wilfrid Hyde-White as Col. Pickering, in the Lerner and Loewe classic, The Rain In Spain, in My Fair Lady, 1964.
My Fair Lady (1964) - You Presumptuous Insect! After her successful London society debut, the now-refined street urchin Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) takes out her frustrations on her teacher Professor Higgins (Rex Harrison) in My Fair Lady 1964, George Cuko directing the Lerner-Loewe musical, from the George Bernard Shaw play.

Trailer

Family

Joseph J Lerner
Father
Businessman. Founder of Lerner Shops, women's specialty stores.
Edith Lerner
Mother
Robert Lerner
Brother
Theatre producer. Born 1921.
Michael Lerner
Son
Journalist. Correspondent for NEWSWEEK magazine in Paris.
Susan Lerner
Daughter
Liza Lerner
Daughter
Jennifer Lerner
Daughter

Companions

Ruth Boyd
Wife
Divorced.
Marion Bell
Wife
Actor, singer. Married in 1947; divorced in 1948; starred on Broadway in "Brigadoon" (1947); died on December 14, 1997 at age 78.
Nancy Olson
Wife
Actor. Third wife; married March 19, 1950; divorced in 1957.
Micheline Mussellin Posso di Bergo
Wife
Married December 20, 1957; divorced.
Karen Gundersson
Wife
Married November 15, 1966; divorced December 9, 1974.
Sandra Payne
Wife
Married December 10, 1974; divorced.
Nina Bushkin
Wife
Divorced.
Liz Robertson
Wife
Actor. Married August 13, 1981 until Lerner's death in 1986; starred in revival of "My Fair Lady".

Bibliography

"Alan Jay Lerner: A Biography"
Edward Jablonski, Henry Holt & Co (1996)
"The Wordsmiths: Oscar Hammerstein 2d and Alan Jay Lerner"
Stephen Citron, Oxford University Press (1995)
"The Musical Theater: A Celebration"
Alan Jay Lerner (1986)
"On The Street Where I Live"
Alan Jay Lerner (1978)
"The Lerner and Loewe Song Book"
(1962)

Notes

He served as president of the Dramatists Guild of America (1958-62)

He served on the President's Committee for the Cultural Center (Kennedy Center) in Washington DC (1962)

Lerner was elected to the Songwriter's Hall of Fame (1971)