Adolph Green


Lyricist, Playwright

About

Birth Place
Bronx, New York, USA
Born
December 02, 1915
Died
October 23, 2002

Biography

So long-running and fruitful was his partnership with Betty Comden, Adolph Green was frequently thought to be married to her, but instead, the writers-singers-actors shared a sophisticated, witty flair and friendship that earned them both pop culture immortality as writers of stage, screen and song. After starting out together in a troupe called The Revuers, Green and Comden earned a tic...

Family & Companions

Elizabeth Reitell
Wife
Married on June 20, 1941; divorced.
Allyn Ann McLerie
Wife
Actor, singer. Divorced.
Phyllis Newman
Wife
Actor. Married on January 31, 1960.

Notes

"Leonard Bernstein, Jule Styne, Cy Coleman and Larry Grossman have all provided melodic lines for Comden and Green's word-wizardry. In all, the two have made 17 trips to Broadway and five to the Tony podium." --Harry Haun writing in Daily News, May 28, 1991.

Inducted into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame (1980)

Biography

So long-running and fruitful was his partnership with Betty Comden, Adolph Green was frequently thought to be married to her, but instead, the writers-singers-actors shared a sophisticated, witty flair and friendship that earned them both pop culture immortality as writers of stage, screen and song. After starting out together in a troupe called The Revuers, Green and Comden earned a ticket to the big time with the lyrics and book for "On the Town," which they adapted into a 1949 film starring Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly. Showered with awards and nominations, they wrote the screenplays for the film hits "Singin' in the Rain" (1952), "The Band Wagon" (1953), "It's Always Fair Weather" (1955), "Bells Are Ringing" (1960), which was based on their musical, and "Auntie Mame" (1958). Seven-time Tony-winners, they penned such classic Broadway hits as "Wonderful Town," "Peter Pan" and "Applause." Awarded the Kennedy Center Honors and enshrined in multiple halls of fame, Green died of natural causes on Dec. 4, 2002, but the movies, shows and music he and Comden wrote would live on forever as beloved standards whose sparkling craftsmanship revealed the pair's genius.

Born Dec. 2, 1914 in The Bronx, NY, Adolph Green met his professional partner, Betty Comden in 1938, and the two aspiring entertainers formed their own theatrical troupe, The Revuers. The group would grow to include future Oscar-winner Judy Holliday and the young Leonard Bernstein, and featured Green and Comden's musical and acting talents. As the troupe built a buzz, they were tapped to appear in small roles in the film "Greenwich Village" (1944), starring Carmen Miranda and Don Ameche. Green's manic exuberance and puckish personality played beautifully off of Comden's witty elegance, and the two teamed with Bernstein to write the lyrics and book for the Broadway musical "On the Town," the lighthearted tale of three sailors on leave in New York City. The show was a huge smash, and included two juicy roles Comden and Green had written for themselves. After their next two Broadway follow-ups "Billion Dollar Baby" and "Bonanza Bound" flopped, the team returned to Hollywood.

Together, they penned the sparkling screenplays for the June Allyson/Peter Lawford college romance "Good News" (1947) and the final (and only color) film Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire made together, "The Barkleys of Broadway" (1949), before adapting their own "On the Town" (1949) for Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly. They were nominated for a WGA Award for "Barkleys" but won it for "On the Town," which featured the evergreen classic "New York, New York." Kelly proved a good luck charm for the pair, and starred in their masterpiece, "Singin' in the Rain" (1952), a feel-good Hollywood fairy tale also starring Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor that followed the hilarious complications endured by the industry during the transition from silent films to talkies. In one of the most famous and beloved film sequences of all time, Kelly sang the title tune while dancing with an umbrella on a rainy street, which even decades later would remain an iconic Hollywood moment. In fact, many critics considered "Singin'" to be the greatest Hollywood musical of all time as well as one of the best films ever. Once again, Green and Comden won the Writers Guild Award for their work.

They scored again with "The Band Wagon" (1953) another delightful peek behind the showbiz curtain, telling the story of a husband and wife writing team - loosely based on Comden and Green - who are attempting to successfully put up a Broadway show, despite many colorful twists. Starring Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse, the musical featured another gorgeous set piece, the "Dancing in the Dark" number, which would achieve pop culture immortality. Nominated for a Best Writing, Story and Screenplay Oscar for their work on "Wagon," Green and Comden also earned another Writers Guild Award nomination, and the film would go on to inspire countless fans and artists, most notably Michael Jackson, who built his "Smooth Criminal" and "Billie Jean" videos around allusions to the movie. Green and Comden notched another hit with "It's Always Fair Weather" (1955), which paired Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse and told the story of three former soldiers comparing their present realities to the dreams of their youth. Again, the team earned Oscar and Writers Guild nominations for writing.

Back on the Great White Way, Comden and Green penned the revue "Two on the Aisle" but achieved even greater success with their Tony-winning hit "Wonderful Town," an adaptation of the comedy "My Sister Eileen" (1955).The latter, which included the classic comic lament "Ohio," proved an enduring hit, but the pair hit an even higher note with the musical comedy "Bells Are Ringing," the screwball story of a mischievous telephone operator (Judy Holliday) whose high-spirited approach to her job causes wonderfully charming mayhem. The show included several songs that became beloved standards, including "Just in Time," "Long Before I Knew You" and "The Party's Over." They would go on to adapt "Bells" into a delightful 1960 film starring Holliday and Dean Martin, which won them a Writers Guild Award and earned them a Grammy nomination for its soundtrack.

After writing the screenplay for the beloved Rosalind Russell non-musical adaptation of "Auntie Mame" (1958), the pair took a well-deserved victory lap in 1958 when they came together for the Broadway show "A Party with Betty Comden and Adolph Green," a much-loved smash that spotlighted their impressive body of work all the way back to their days with The Revuers, and won the Obie Award for Best Musical. (They would later successfully revive an updated version in 1977). The pair was also responsible for the famous Mary Martin Broadway and TV versions of "Peter Pan" (NBC, 1955) and for the Tony-winning stage successes "Hallelujah, Baby!" "Applause," "On the Twentieth Century" and "The Will Rogers Follies," bringing their joint total to seven Tony awards. In the early 1980s, they were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the American Theatre Hall of Fame, and a decade later they both received Kennedy Center Honors. Green also made a handful of additional screen acting appearances after his 1944 debut, including roles in "Simon" (1980), "My Favorite Year" (1982) and a voiceover role on "Frasier" (NBC, 1993-2004). He died of natural causes on Dec. 4, 2002, and the Broadway memorial held in his honor inspired many of the greats of the past, present and future to pay tribute, including Lauren Bacall, Kristin Chenoweth and, most poignantly, Betty Comden.

By Jonathan Riggs

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Musicals Great Musicals (1996)
The Substance of Fire (1996)
I Want to Go Back Home (1989)
Joey Wellman
Funny (1989)
Lily in Love (1985)
Garbo Talks (1984)
Himself
My Favorite Year (1982)
Simon (1980)

Writer (Feature Film)

What a Way To Go! (1964)
Screenwriter
Bells Are Ringing (1960)
Screenwriter
Auntie Mame (1958)
Screenwriter
It's Always Fair Weather (1955)
Story and Screenplay
The Band Wagon (1953)
Story and Screenplay
Singin' in the Rain (1952)
Story and Screenplay
On the Town (1949)
Screenwriter
The Barkleys of Broadway (1949)
Original Screenplay
Good News (1947)
Screenwriter

Music (Feature Film)

The Incredibles 2 (2018)
Song
The Bronze (2015)
Song
Arthur Christmas (2011)
Song
Dummy (2002)
Music Lyrics
Small Time Crooks (2000)
Song
Ronin (1998)
Song
That's Entertainment! III (1994)
Theme Lyrics
Sleepless In Seattle (1993)
Song
Dr. Giggles (1992)
Song
The Addams Family (1991)
Song
29th Street (1991)
Song
Bert Rigby, You're a Fool (1989)
Song
The Return of Captain Invincible (1983)
Song
Blue Sunshine (1979)
Song
What a Way To Go! (1964)
Composer
Bells Are Ringing (1960)
Composer
It's Always Fair Weather (1955)
Composer
Singin' in the Rain (1952)
Composer
Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949)
Composer
On the Town (1949)
Composer
Good News (1947)
Composer

Cast (Special)

Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu (1998)
Leonard Bernstein: Reaching For the Note (1998)
Oscar Levant: Brillant Shadow (1997)
Judy Garland: Beyond the Rainbow (1997)
The 50th Annual Tony Awards (1996)
Performer
Musicals Great Musicals: The Arthur Freed Unit at MGM (1996)
On the Town in Concert (1993)
Narrator
The 45th Annual Tony Awards (1991)
Performer
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts (1991)
Music By Richard Rodgers (1990)
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts (1988)
Performer
Broadway Sings: The Music of Jule Styne (1987)
Follies in Concert (1986)
The American Film Institute Salute to Gene Kelly (1985)
Performer

Writer (Special)

On the Town in Concert (1993)
Book As Source Material
On the Town in Concert (1993)
Other Writer
Applause (1973)
Writer
Let's Celebrate (1972)
Writer

Music (Special)

Leonard Bernstein's New York (1997)
Theme Lyrics
On the Town in Concert (1993)
Theme Lyrics
Diamonds on the Silver Screen (1992)
Song
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts (1991)
Theme Lyrics
Tony Bennett (1988)
Song
Broadway Sings: The Music of Jule Styne (1987)
Song Performer ("Captain Hook'S Waltz")
Follies in Concert (1986)
Song Performer
Wonderful Town (1958)
Lyrics

Special Thanks (Special)

On the Town in Concert (1993)
Book As Source Material
On the Town in Concert (1993)
Other Writer
Applause (1973)
Writer
Let's Celebrate (1972)
Writer

Misc. Crew (Special)

Wonderful Town (1958)
Vignettes

Music (TV Mini-Series)

Peter Pan Starring Cathy Rigby (2000)
Theme Lyrics

Life Events

1938

Met Betty Comden while she was a student at NYU

1939

Formed cabaret act, The Revuers", with Betty Comden and Judy Holliday

1944

Co-starred and co-wrote (with Comden) the book and lyrics for Broadway muscial, "On the Town"

1944

First film appearance with the Revuers in "Greenwich Village"

1947

Co-wrote (with Betty Comden) first screenplay, "Good News"

1979

Film actor in "Simon"

Photo Collections

Bells Are Ringing - Behind-the-Scenes Stills
Here are a number of photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of MGM's Bells Are Ringing (1960), starring Judy Holliday and Dean Martin, and directed by Vincente Minnelli.

Videos

Movie Clip

Singin' In The Rain (1952) - Moses Supposes Silent star Don (co-director and choreographer Gene Kelly) with diction coach (Robert Watson), joined by musical partner Cosmo (Donald O’Connor) for the flat-out athletic tap number to the song by Roger Edens, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, a rousing bit from Singin’ In The Rain, 1952.
Singin' In The Rain (1952) - All I Do Is Dream Of You The studio boss (Millard Mitchell) after a talking-picture demo, with Cosmo (Donald O’Connor) pal of star Don (Gene Kelly), who’s delighted to find snooty Cathy (Debbie Reynolds) doing a cheesecake gig, song by Nacio Herb Brown and producer Arthur Freed, bimbo Lina (Jean Hagen) getting pied, in Singin’ In The Rain, 1952.
Singin' In The Rain (1952) - I'm Not An Actor! After the premiere, silent-movie star Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) with musical partner Cosmo (Donald O’Connor) in Hollywood, gets mobbed and, with a coy contemporary-swashbuckling escape, meets opinionated Cathy (Debbie Reynolds), early in MGM’s Singin’ In The Rain, 1952.
Singin' In The Rain (1952) - Dignity, Always Dignity Dora (Madge Blake) the M-C, sidekick Cosmo (Donald O’Connor) already in place, co-director Gene Kelly (as matinee idol Don Lockwood), with Jean Hagen, silent for now (as co-star Lina), launches the biography bit, song by Al Hoffman and Al Goodhart, from the opening to MGM’s Singin’ In The Rain, 1952.
Good News (1947) - French Lesson Tait College football star Tommy (Peter Lawford) at the library meets hard working student Connie (June Allyson), who helps him learn French to woo another girl, with a Comden & Green specialty number, in Good News, 1947.
Singin' In The Rain (1951) - Zelda's Kid Sister In the “Revolution In Hollywood” montage, Rita Moreno as “Zelda” in the cocktail shaker routine and the cutaways, with four Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed tunes, Jimmy Thompson the crooner, Debbie Reynolds with him as Kathy, Millard Mitchell the studio boss, Donald O’Connor as Cosmo, Tommy Farrell as Sid the A-D, in Singin’ In The Rain, 1951.
Singin' In The Rain (1951) - That Famous Zip Girl In fact the greater part of Rita Moreno’s performance as flapper movie star “Zelda Zanders,” in Singin’ In The Rain, 1951, at the opening of the Gene Kelly/Jean Hagen (Don Lockwood, Lina Lamont) movie, introduced by Madge Blake, Stuart Holmes her “eligible bachelor.”
On the Town (1949) - New York, New York (Open) Gabey (Gene Kelly), Chip (Frank Sinatra) and Ozzie (Jules Munshin) launch their shore leave with Comden & Green's "New York, New York" in the first musical shot on location, directed by Kelly and Stanley Donen, On the Town, 1949.
On the Town (1949) - My Place! Cabbie Hildy (Betty Garrett) has advice for tourist Chip (Frank Sinatra) delivered through the song "Come Up to My Place" by Leonard Bernstein, Beddy Comden and Adolph Green, in On the Town, 1949.
Auntie Mame (1958) - Madam Is Having Affair New York, 1928, Irish maid Norah (Connie Gilchrist) delivers Chicago orphan Patrick (Jan Handzlik), meeting Ito (Yuki Shimoda) along the way, to Rosalind Russell (her first scene, reprising her Broadway performance in the title role) in the original non-musical version of Auntie Mame, 1958.
Auntie Mame (1958) - Books Are Awfully Decorative Rosalind Russell (title character) cons her paid biographer O'Bannion (Robin Hughes) into taking her frump secretary Gooch (Peggy Cass) on a date, so she can receive her nervous nephew Patrick (Roger Smith) and his snooty new girlfriend Gloria (Joanna Barnes), in Auntie Mame, 1958.
My Favorite Year - Open, 1954 Opening titles with Nat Cole singing "Stardust," and narration by Mark Linn-Baker as "Benji Stone," setting up the director Richard Benjamin's "Peter O'Toole as Errol Flynn" comedy My Favorite Year, 1982, executive producer Mel Brooks.

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Family

Daniel Green
Father
Helen Green
Mother
Adam Green
Son
Comedian. Mother, Phyllis Newman.
Amanda Green
Daughter
Actor, singer. Mother, Phyllis Newman; married to Jeffrey Kaplan, a doctor, on May 21, 1999.

Companions

Elizabeth Reitell
Wife
Married on June 20, 1941; divorced.
Allyn Ann McLerie
Wife
Actor, singer. Divorced.
Phyllis Newman
Wife
Actor. Married on January 31, 1960.

Bibliography

Notes

"Leonard Bernstein, Jule Styne, Cy Coleman and Larry Grossman have all provided melodic lines for Comden and Green's word-wizardry. In all, the two have made 17 trips to Broadway and five to the Tony podium." --Harry Haun writing in Daily News, May 28, 1991.

Inducted into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame (1980)

He received an honorary degree from New York Univeristy (along with Betty Comden) in May 1999.