Richard Adler, Broadway Composer And Lyricist, Dies | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Richard Adler, Broadway Composer And Lyricist, Dies

Play associated audio

One half of a great American songwriting team has died. Richard Adler died in Southampton, N.Y, yesterday at the age of 90. Adler and his songwriting partner, Jerry Ross, were composers and lyricists who got their start with a No. 1 hit in 1953, "Rags to Riches," sung by Tony Bennett.

From a single that sold over a million copies, Adler and Ross went on to write one of Broadway's best-loved musicals. Adler told WHYY's Fresh Air in 1990 that when they were working on The Pajama Game, he got the idea for one of its biggest songs in an unorthodox way.

"I went to the bathroom one day, and when I got in there I decided, 'I'm not leaving till I've written a song,' " he said. "Then all of a sudden the radiator started clanging and hissing, and I got the idea for steam heat."

The two next took on a musical about baseball, a sport Adler did not even enjoy. The result? Damn Yankees. Just a few months after it opened in 1955, Jerry Ross died unexpectedly. He was only 29.

Adler says he was devastated. But he rallied, wrote commercial jingles, and in 1962 was hired to plan the most famous presidential birthday party ever. President John F. Kennedy told Adler that hiring Marilyn Monroe was a great idea.

But Adler will always be best remembered for the handful of great musicals he wrote with Ross and songs like "Whatever Lola Wants," "Hernando's Hideaway" and "Hey There," about yearning for someone who seems unattainable

The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees are revived regularly on Broadway and all over the world. It's almost like they'll live forever.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

What's A Pirate's Least-Favorite Puzzle? One That Hates Arrrrs

In each pair of clues, the answer to the first clue is a word that contains the consecutive letters A-R. Drop the A-R, and the remaining letters in order will form a word that answers the second clue.
NPR

What To Do With Weird Farmers Market Vegetables

The farmer's market in July is a wondrous place: juicy tomatoes, jewel-toned eggplants, sweet yellow corn. But greens that look like weeds may be more intimidating. Here's how to tame them.
NPR

Trump's Campaign Theme Song Headache? Blame Michael Jackson, Sort Of

Candidates keep getting in trouble for picking theme songs without getting approval from the artist. You can trace this back to changes in both campaigning and the way companies sell products.
NPR

Want A Taste Of Virtual Reality? Step One: Find Some Cardboard

Fancy headsets can cost between $200 and $500. But if you have a smartphone, some extra time and an empty pizza box, you can make your own.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.