Arthur Schwartz


Composer, Producer

About

Birth Place
Brooklyn, New York, USA
Born
November 25, 1900
Died
September 03, 1984
Cause of Death
Complications From A Stroke

Biography

A former educator and attorney, composer Arthur Schwartz began his career in the 1920s and remained active for some six decades, crafting lilting, memorable melodies for such standards as "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan," "That's Entertainment" and "Dancing in the Dark." Ironically, Schwartz was not encouraged by his family in his musical interest. The second son of an attorney, he ...

Family & Companions

Katherine Carrington
Wife
Actor. Married from July 7, 1934 until her death in 1954.
Mary Grey
Wife
Actor, ballerina, librettist. Married on June 13, 1954.

Notes

Inducted in the Theatre Hall of Fame in 1981.

Biography

A former educator and attorney, composer Arthur Schwartz began his career in the 1920s and remained active for some six decades, crafting lilting, memorable melodies for such standards as "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan," "That's Entertainment" and "Dancing in the Dark." Ironically, Schwartz was not encouraged by his family in his musical interest. The second son of an attorney, he was not allowed to study music and instead encouraged to pursue the law. As is often the case, the forbidden became appealing and Schwartz secretly taught himself how to play the piano and by age 14 was accompanying silent films at the Cortelyou Movie Emporium in his native Brooklyn. Still, he was a dutiful son and completed his studies at New York University and Columbia University.

While working on his law degree, Schwartz taught English to high school students and pursued composing songs as a hobby. In 1923, he published his first song, the now forgotten ditty "Baltimore, MD, You're the Only Doctor for Me" (with lyrics by Eli Dawson). The following year, he passed the New York State bar exam and opened a law office on Broadway. During the summer of 1924, Schwartz spent time working as a counselor at the Brant Lake Camp in the Adirondacks where he made the acquaintance of lyricist Lorenz Hart and the pair soon collaborated on songs for camp shows. One of their numbers, "I Know My Girl By Her Perfume," was sold to the vaudeville act of Besser and Amy for $75.

Schwartz also became friendly with composer George Gershwin who provided encouragement. While not abandoning law, he continued to pen songs, several of which began to find placement in revues like "The Grand Street Follies." At Hart's insistence, Schwartz took a year off from his successful legal practice and quickly caught the attention of producer Tom Weatherly who hired him to compose the score for a Broadway revue. Weatherly introduced Schwartz to the man who was to become perhaps his best remembered collaborator -- Howard Dietz, a native New Yorker who was a classmate of Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II.

The pair enjoyed success with their contributions to "The Little Show," a revue with sketches by Dietz and George S Kaufman, among others, and starring Clifton Webb, Fred Allen and Libby Holman. One of the show's musical numbers was "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan," a Schwartz melody originally with lyrics by Lorenz Hart (then called "I Love to Lie Awake in Bed"). Dietz and Schwartz were hired to make magic strike again on "The Second Little Show" (1930), but despite their efforts the show was not a success. The duo fared somewhat better with "Three's a Crowd" (also 1930), which reunited them with Webb, Holman and Allen. Of the numbers created for the show, Holman's solo "Something to Remember You By." Originally meant as an up-tempo comic number, the song was reinterpreted by Holman as a torch song.

In 1931, Schwartz and Dietz were asked to compose a complete score for a musical, the revue "The Band Wagon," a vehicle for Fred and Adele Astaire. Once again Dietz collaborated with George S Kaufman on the sketches and the finished product was highly praised. The Astaires shone in their dance numbers (like "Hoops") but the standout song was "Dancing in the Dark," sung by John Barker and danced to by Tilly Losch.

Although the duo continued to collaborate throughout the 1930s on revues ("Flying Colors" in 1932 and "At Home Abroad" in 1935) and book shows (1934's "Revenge With Music" and 1937's "Between the Devil"), none was a box-office hit, although these productions produced such standards as "Alone Together," "Love Is a Dancing Thing," "You and the Night and the Music," and "I See Your Face Before Me." Perhaps the most prolific assignment was providing the songs -- close to 100 written over a two-week period -- for the radio program "The Gibson Family" in 1936. Having enjoyed a run of nearly a decade (during which each also enjoyed outside collaborations), Schwartz and Dietz went their separate ways in 1937. By that time, Schwartz had already begun to contributed songs to motion pictures, including "Seal It With a Kiss" and "Live and Learn" (with lyrics by Edward Heyman) introduced by Lily Pons in "The Girl From Paris" (1937). During the next ten years, he would enjoy a new phase in his career composing for movies and collaborating with some of the top lyric writers in Hollywood. In 1943, he and Frank Loesser crafted the Oscar-nominated "They're Either Too Young or Too Old" introduced by Bette Davis in "Thank Your Lucky Stars." Schwartz garnered a second Academy Award nomination for "A Gal in Calico" (with a Leo Robin lyric) which was featured in 1946's "The Time, the Place and the Girl." He then segued to producing films like "Cover Girl" (1944) and the sanitized Cole Porter biopic "Night and Day" (1946).

Schwartz, however, did not abandon the stage during this period. Neither "Virginia" (1938, written with Irving Stillman) nor "American Jubilee (1939, with Oscar Hammerstein II) proved a success. In 1939, he was teamed for the first time with lyric writer Dorothy Fields on the score for the Ethel Merman-Jimmy Durante vehicle "Stars in Your Eyes." They later enjoyed modest hits with a pair of Broadway musicals, "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" (1941) and "By the Beautiful Sea" (1954), both starring Shirley Booth. Schwartz and Ira Gershwin joined forces for the ill-fated "Park Avenue" (1946) and a reunion with Dietz on "Inside U.S.A." (1948) was also a disappointment. (Although the latter included the lovely "Haunted Heart" and the amusing "Rhode Island Is Famous for You.")

When MGM decided to film "The Band Wagon" in 1953, Schwartz and Dietz reunited to provide a new song, "That's Entertainment," which has since became a sort of unofficial showbiz anthem. Yet, unbelievably the number wasn't even nominated for a Best Song Oscar. Dietz and Schwartz rounded out their long partnership with a TV musical (1961's "A Bell for Adano") and a pair of Broadway shows that were intriguing failures. "The Gay Life" (1961, now known as "The High Life") was a musicalization of Arthur Schnitzler's play "The Affairs of Anatol" that suffered from a uneven book. The lush score was enhanced by the presence of Barbara Cook at the height of her vocal prowess as the original cast recording attests. "Jennie" (1963) holds the distinction of being the only flop on star Mary Martin's resume. Loosely based on the life of actress Laurette Taylor, "Jennie" also featured a weak libretto but the Schwartz-Dietz score is not without its charms and at least has been preserved in the original cast recording.

In 1969, Schwartz relocated to London where he became a frequent contributor to BBC and Thames Television broadcasts. For the first time in his career, he also began to pen his own lyrics and in collaboration with his second wife, Mary O'Hagan, wrote a musical adaptation of Dickens' "Nicholas Nickleby" and revised "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" (complete with eight new songs) as "Look Who's Dancing." Although the latter was produced in 1978 in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, it was no more successful than the original. Often hailed for his craftsmanship and the beauty of his melodies, Schwartz was awarded the second annual ASCAP/Richard Rodgers Award (shared with Harold Arlen) just prior to his 1984 death from a stroke.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Main Street to Broadway (1953)
Theatre Guild member

Writer (Feature Film)

Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)
Original Story

Producer (Feature Film)

Night and Day (1946)
Producer
Cover Girl (1944)
Producer

Music (Feature Film)

Judy (2019)
Song
I Capture the Castle (2002)
Song ("You And The Night And The Music")
Hannibal (2001)
Song
Amelie (2001)
Song ("Dancing In The Dark")
The End of the Affair (1999)
Song
That's Entertainment! III (1994)
Music
The Fred Astaire Songbook (1991)
Music
The Two Jakes (1990)
Song
Let's Get Lost (1988)
Song
Radio Days (1987)
Song
I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can (1982)
Song
Jazz in Exile (1982)
Song
Alice, Sweet Alice (1977)
Song
The Telephone Book (1971)
Song ("Something To Remember You By")
I Could Go On Singing (1963)
Composer
The Delicate Delinquent (1957)
Composer
You're Never Too Young (1955)
Composer
Dangerous When Wet (1953)
Composer
The Band Wagon (1953)
Composer
Torch Song (1953)
Composer
With a Song in My Heart (1952)
Composer
Excuse My Dust (1951)
Composer
Dancing in the Dark (1950)
Composer
Her Kind of Man (1946)
Composer
The Time, the Place and the Girl (1946)
Composer
Princess O'Rourke (1943)
Composer
Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)
Composer
When Johnny Comes Marching Home (1943)
Composer
Cairo (1942)
Composer
Crossroads (1942)
Composer
All Through the Night (1942)
Composer
Navy Blues (1941)
Composer
That Girl from Paris (1937)
Composer
Under Your Spell (1936)
Composer
Runaway Queen (1934)
Music numbers by
Follow the Leader (1930)
Composer
The Lottery Bride (1930)
Composer
Queen High (1930)
Composer

Director (Special)

Twentieth Century (1956)
Director

Producer (Special)

Twentieth Century (1956)
Producer

Music (Special)

From Broadway: Fosse (2002)
Music
An Evening With Maria Ewing (1990)
Song

Life Events

1923

Published first song, "Baltimore, MD, You're the Only Doctor for Me"

1924

Admitted to New York bar

1924

Spent summer as a counselor at Brant Lake Camp; met Lorenz Hart; collaborated on songs for camp shows

1928

Took sabbatical from law practice and was introduced to Howard Dietz as collaborator on "The Little Show" (1929)

1930

With Dietz, wrote songs for "The Second Little Show"

1930

Enjoyed success with "Three's a Crowd", a revue starring Clifton Webb and Libby Holman

1931

First Broadway musical with complete score by Schwartz and Dietz, "The Band Wagon", starring Fred and Adele Astaire

1932

Wrote score for the Broadway revue, "Flying Colors"

1934

Had flop with the conventional book musical "Revenge With Music"

1935

With Dietz, collaborated on the score for "At Home Abroad", starring Ethel Waters and Beatrice Lillie

1936

Penned over 90 songs for the weekly radio series "The Gibson Family"

1937

With Edward Heyman as lyricist, contributed songs "Seal It With a Kiss" and "Love and Learn", to the film "The Girl From Paris"

1938

Wrote the music to lyrics by Albert Stillman and Laurence Stallings for "Virginia"

1939

Initial collaboration with lyricist Dorothy Fields, the Broadway musical "Stars in Your Eyes", starring Ethel Merman

1943

Collaborated with Frank Loesser on "They're Either Too Young or Too Old"; introduced by Bette Davis in the film "Thank Your Lucky Stars"; received first Oscar nomination as Best Song

1944

Served as producer on "Cover Girl"

1945

Composed the score for and produced the CBS TV special "Surprise for Santa"; purportedly the first 90-minute television special

1946

Was producer of the sanitized Cole Porter biopic "Night and Day"

1946

Collaborated with Ira Gershwin on the unsuccessful Broadway musical "Park Avenue"

1947

Earned second Academy Award nomination for "A Gal in Calico" from "The Time, the Place and the Girl", with lyrics by Leo Robin

1948

Reunited with Dietz for the revue "Inside U.S.A."

1951

Again worked with Dorothy Fields on the Broadway musical "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn", starring Shirley Booth

1953

For film version of "The Band Wagon" wrote new song, "That's Entertainment", with Dietz

1954

Reteamed with Dorothy Fields for the stage musical "By the Beautiful Sea", again starring Shirley Booth

1956

Composed the score for the TV special "High Tor"

1961

Collaborated with Dietz on the unsuccessful stage musical "The Gay Life", starring Barbara Cook

1963

With Dietz, wrote the unsuccessful Mary Martin vehicle "Jennie"

1969

Moved to London

1978

Wrote eight new songs for revised version of "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" (with new book by his wife) called "Look Who's Dancing", produced in summer stock at Stockbrige, Massachusetts

Videos

Movie Clip

Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943) - They're Either Too Young Or Too Old Bette Davis (like all the Warner Bros. stars, donating her salary to the Hollywood Canteen she co-founded), delivers an original by Arthur Schwartz and Frank Loesser which earned an Academy Award nomination and became a widely recorded hit, in the variety propaganda effort Thank Your Lucky Stars, 1943, Conrad Wiedell her dance partner.
Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943) - That's What You Jolly Well Get The schtick for Errol Flynn (who like the other big names, donated his $50,000 salary to the armed services benefit Hollywood Canteen) for the wartime fundraiser show-within-a-show premise of the Warner Bros. propaganda feature is an original by Arthur Schwartz and Frank Loesser, staged by Leroy Prinz, in Thank Your Lucky Stars, 1943.
Band Wagon, The (1953) - That's Entertainment Bloviating director Cordova (Jack Buchanan) has just fallen from a platform while making his point, which he continues for Lester & Lily (Oscar Levant, Nanette Fabray) and Tony (Fred Astaire), a now-famous tune by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz, in Vincente Minnelli's The Band Wagon, 1953.
Band Wagon, The (1953) - Dancing In The Dark Ballerina Gaby (Cyd Charisse) and comeback-track movie star Tony (Fred Astaire) have suddenly warmed to each other, strolling in Central Park into "Dancing In The Dark," by Arthur Schwartz, choreographed by Michael Kidd, in The Band Wagon, 1953.
Band Wagon, The (1953) - A Shine On Your Shoes Faded movie star Tony (Fred Astaire) hanging in a Manhattan arcade, kicks into a famous number, Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz's "A Shine On Your Shoes," choreography by Michael Kidd, Leroy Daniels featured, in The Band Wagon, 1953.
You're Never Too Young (1955) - I Know Your Mother Loves You Dean Martin as visiting Oregon music teacher Bob has commandeered the PA at Los Angeles Union Station to stage a song for his fellow teacher and girlfriend Nancy (Diana Lynn), tune by Arthur Schwartz and Sammy Cahn, in the Martin & Jerry Lewis vehicle You’re Never Too Young, 1955.
Time, The Place And The Girl, The (1946) - I Happened To Walk Down First Street The tune is by Arthur Schwartz and Leo Robin, Dennis Morgan and Jack Carson are New York night club producers, Angela Greene and Janis Paige their partners, trying to keep their show from being shut down by snooty neighbors, in Warner Bros.' The Time, The Place And The Girl, 1946.
Night And Day (1946) - I'm Unlucky At Gambling In WWI Paris, as her erstwhile boyfriend, composer Cole Porter (Cary Grant), recovers from mostly fictional war wounds, American nurse Linda (Alexis Smith) prevails upon performer Gabrielle (Eve Arden, with a not-bad accent) to give him a break, in the Porter bio-pic Night And Day, 1946.
Night And Day (1946) - My Heart Belongs To Daddy Encouraged by pal Gracie (Jane Wyman), Mary Martin playing herself in a fact-based recreation of her first meeting with Cole Porter (Cary Grant), leading to performance of the extra-chaste strip tease number that made her famous, in Night And Day, 1946.
Night And Day (1946) - An Old Fashioned Garden At the Porter family home in Indiana, Christmas 1914, pal Monty Woolley (as himself) among the guests, Cole (Cary Grant) explains to mother Kate (Selena Royle) how he's upset grandfather (Henry Stephenson) by deciding not to return to Yale, in the loosely biographical Night And Day, 1946.
Dangerous When Wet - I Like Men Salesman Windy (Jack Carson) seeking local talent, Barbara Whiting as "Suzie," offering I Like Men, by Arthur Schwartz and Johnny Mercer, big sister Esther Williams in the audience, in Dangerous When Wet, 1953.

Trailer

You're Never Too Young (1955) -- Original Trailer Original trailer for Paramount’s You’re Never Too Young, 1955, another hit vehicle for Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis (based on the same original story as Paramount’s The Major And The Minor, 1942, with Ginger Rogers and Ray Milland), featuring Diana Lynn, Nina Foch and Raymond Burr.
Night and Day - (Original Trailer) Fanciful biography of songwriter Cole Porter (Cary Grant), who rose from high society to find success on Tin Pan Alley.
Navy Blues (1941) - (Original Trailer) Look for a young Jackie Gleason with lots of Warners' best comedians in the service comedy Navy Blues (1941).
Crossroads (1942) - (Original Trailer) A French diplomat (William Powell) who's recovered from amnesia is blackmailed over crimes he can't remember.
Excuse My Dust - (Original Trailer) Red Skelton stars as a turn-of-the-century automobile inventor in the Technicolor comedy Excuse My Dust (1951).
Thank Your Lucky Stars - (Original Trailer) An Eddie Cantor look-alike organizes an all-star show to help the war effort in Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943) with guest appearances by Bette Davis, Errol Flynn & Humphrey Bogart.
Dangerous When Wet - (Original Trailer) A family of fitness freaks sets out to swim the English Channel in the Technicolor musical Dangerous When Wet (1953) starring Esther Williams.
Her Kind Of Man - (Original Trailer) A reporter comes between a gangster and his mistress during the Roaring Twenties in Her Kind Of Man (1946) starring Dane Clark and Zachary Scott.
Time, The Place and The Girl, The - (Original Trailer) Two producers (Dennis Morgan, Jack Carson) and their girls look for a backer for their big show in The Time, The Place and The Girl (1946).

Family

Solomon Schwartz
Father
Lawyer.
Dora Schwartz
Mother
Jonathan Schwartz
Son
Radio host, disc jockey, author, TV reporter, singer. Has two children, a daughter Casey and son Adam.
Paul Schwartz
Son
Composer, conductor.

Companions

Katherine Carrington
Wife
Actor. Married from July 7, 1934 until her death in 1954.
Mary Grey
Wife
Actor, ballerina, librettist. Married on June 13, 1954.

Bibliography

Notes

Inducted in the Theatre Hall of Fame in 1981.