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July 26: Frank Loesser

Lawrence Bush
July 25, 2016

220px-Frank-loesser-3Songwriter Frank Loesser, who wrote lyrics and music for Guys and Dolls and How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, among other Broadway productions, winning both Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, died in New York at 59 on this date in 1969 (some sources say July 28). As a Tin Pan Alley pro, Loesser also wrote “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and supplied the lyrics for “On a Slow Boat to China,” “Two Sleepy People,” “Heart and Soul,” “If I Were a Bell” and other hit songs and jazz standards. Loesser’s father was a classical piano teacher, but Loesser was a self-taught musician interested only in popular music. Hollywood films he wrote song lyrics for included Destry Rides Again, Thank Your Lucky Stars, Fred Astaire’s Let’s Dance, and Hans Christian Anderson, starring Danny Kaye. To see a two-minute tribute to Loesser and his music, look below.

“I don’t write slowly, it’s just that I throw out fast.” --Frank Loesser

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.