Richard Adler, who was a fine lyricist, composer and producer of memorable Broadway shows, has died. He’s best known for his work with Jerry Ross on The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees.
Frank Loesser mentored the collaborators, and they quickly wrote hits for Tony Bennett and Rosemary Clooney. Rags to Riches and Hey There were top tunes for the team. They were likely poised to challenge Rodgers and Hammerstein when their Broadway shows won back-to-back Tonys in 1955 and 1956. However, Ross died suddenly of a lung ailment at the tender age of 29 in November of 1955.
Other popular musical hits include Whatever Lola Wants and Heart from Damn Yankees; Hernando’s Hideway from The Pajama Game; and Everybody Loves a Lover for Doris Day. Adler also had iconic flirtations with our American history when he staged and produced events for US presidents; the most notable of these was a 1962 Madison Square Garden birthday celebration for John F. Kennedy that included Marilyn Monroe singing Happy Birthday to the president in her trademark breathy voice. He also composed several symphonic pieces, including one to celebrate the Statue of Liberty’s centennial.
He’s a deserved member of the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, complimenting the tributes and accolades he received over his long career. Richard Adler was 90.
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