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Authority record
Library of Congress

Zaret, Hy

  • 85121454
  • Person
  • 1907-08-21 - 2007-07-02

Hy Zaret (August 21, 1907 – July 2, 2007) was born Hyman Harry Zaritsky in New York City to Max and Dora Zaritsky, who emigrated from Russia in the 1890s. Zaret attended public schools, but was not an enthusiastic student. Despite his small stature, he played football at a local community center. He attended West Virginia University and Brooklyn Law School, where he received his LLB. Zaret practiced law for a few years and legally changed his name in 1934. His first major lyrical success came in 1935 when he wrote the words to “Dedicated to You” with Saul Chaplin and Sammy Cahn. He served as a sergeant in the War Music Division during World War II and wrote many war-related tunes, including “Song of the Army Nurse Corps” and “Soldiers of God (The Chaplain’s Song).” He also wrote English lyrics for “The Partisan” and “La Marsellaise.” In 1944, he wrote the lyrics to “One Meat Ball”, which became a success for the Andrews Sisters. Zaret’s biggest hit, “Unchained Melody”, written for the 1955 prison film Unchained, received an Academy Award Nomination for Best Original Song. Recorded by more than 300 artists, the song saw renewed interest in the 1990s with its inclusion in the movie Ghost. In the ensuing years, it received multiple awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, and Rolling Stone magazine. Beginning in the early 1950’s, Zaret began writing lyrics (usually in conjunction with composer Lou Singer) for children’s educational songs and public service announcements for which he received numerous accolades. His efforts include Ballads for the Age of Science, Little Songs on Big Subjects, Little Songs for Better Schools, Little Songs for Busy Voters, Little Songs for Living Longer, Little Songs on Fire Prevention, Spotlight Ballads, Little Songs for the American Cancer Society, Sing-Along for Mental Health, and others. Zaret’s marriage to Shirley Goidel produced two sons, Thomas (who predeceased him) and Robert. Zaret passed away in 2007 at the age of 99.

Scharf, Walter

  • 85327132
  • Person
  • 1910-08-01 - 2003-02-24

Walter Scharf (August 1, 1910 - February 24, 2003) was an American film composer and conductor who worked with Alice Faye and Rudy Vallée. When Vallée moved to Hollywood, Scharf followed. In the course of his Hollywood career, Scharf composed, arranged and/or conducted the music to over 100 feature films including Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Funny Girl, and The Cheyenne Social Club. His prodigious career also included television and stage plays. From 1948 to 1954, Scharf worked as the musical director for the Phil Harris – Alice Faye Show, arranging and composing music for the radio show.

Judy, Richard W.

  • 88267184
  • Person

Richard Judy was an exchange student in Moscow from 1958-1959, where he obtained 18 Soviet-era x-ray film recordings of jazz music. At the time, jazz music was illegal in the Soviet Union.

Maurice Seymour

  • 95022488
  • Corporate body
  • 1900-1995

Maurice Seymour refers to a team of two brothers, Maurice (1900-1993) and Seymour (1902-1995) Zeldman, Russian Jews who specialized in photographing dancers and other performers. They formed Maurice Seymour Studios in Chicago. When one of the brothers decided to move to New York, they both legally changed their names to Maurice Seymour.

Harris, Phil

  • LC80146364
  • Person
  • 1904-01-24 - 1995-08-11

Phil Harris (June 24, 1904 – August 11, 1995) was a singer, songwriter, jazz musician, actor and comedian, best remembered for his voice work; he provided the voices for “Baloo” in Disney’s The Jungle Book and “Little John” in Disney’s Robin Hood. Born Wonga Philip Harris in Linton, Indiana, Harris grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. Beginning in the late 1920s, he worked as a drummer in an orchestra he formed with Carol Lofner in San Francisco. When the partnership ended, he continued to perform with his own band. In the mid-1930s, Harris became musical director of The Jell-O Show starring Jack Benny. Although responsible for singing and leading the band, Harris had a quick wit and comic timing that insured his inclusion into Benny’s comic ensemble.

Phil Harris and Alice Faye married in 1941; it was a second marriage for both of them. Although insiders predicted the union would not last more than six months, the marriage lasted fifty-four year, until Harris’s death in 1995. In 1946, the couple began co-hosting a Sunday night comedy-variety show titled The Fitch Bandwagon, sponsored by F. W. Fitch Co., a hair products manufacturer located in Des Moines, Iowa. The show’s premise, to showcase big bands, shifted as the popularity of Harris and Faye’s family skits grew in popularity. In 1948, Rexall, a pharmaceutical company, became the show’s sponsor and its title changed to The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show. The couple played themselves in the weekly situation comedy that included two young actresses playing the couple’s real-life daughters. The show featured Harris as a bumbling, slightly vain husband and Faye as his loving, but sharp-tongued wife. During each episode, Faye and Harris sang a couple of songs. Generally, Faye performed ballads and Harris sang swing numbers. The show ended in 1954.

The couple continued to work, separately and together, until Harris’s death.

Willson, Meredith

  • LC83042585
  • Person
  • 1902-05-18 - 1984-06-15

Robert Meredith Willson (May 18, 1902 – June 15, 1984) was born in Mason City, Iowa, to John David and Rosalie Reininger Willson. Although Meredith started out playing the piano, his mother saved enough money to order a flute for him. At the age of 17, after high school graduation, he moved to New York to study the flute at what is now the Julliard School of Music. He performed small gigs as a flautist until hired as first flute with the John Philip Sousa Band. He toured with the Sousa Band from 1921 – 1923. He also worked with New York's Rialto theater orchestra, under the leadership of Hugo Riesenfeld. From 1924 to 1929, he played for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and the New York Chamber Music Society. Willson joined the Army, serving as a Major in World War II, after which he worked as music director of ABC radio and television networks. He did a radio show called The Maxwell House Show Boat from Hollywood, which was later renamed Good News. He was also involved in the Armed Forces Radio Service for a time.
Willson married three times: first to his high school sweetheart, Elizabeth, whom he married on August 29, 1920 and later divorced; Ralina "Rini" Zarova, whom he married on March 13, 1948 and who died, December 6, 1966; and Rosemary Sullivan, whom he married on February 14, 1968. Meredith Willson died on June 15, 1984, in Santa Monica, California; his wife Rosemary survived him.
In 1924, Meredith Willson published his first piece of music: a composition called “Parade Fantastique.” Willson’s first big musical success was with his smash hit, The Music Man, which premiered December 19, 1957 at the Majestic Theatre on Broadway. It has since had two Broadway revivals, one in 1980 and one in 2000. Willson also contributed scores and librettos to the musicals The Music Man, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, 1491, and Here’s Love. Acting as lyricist and composer for most of his career, Willson wrote memorable standards including “It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas”, “May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You”, “You and I”, “Two in Love”, “76 Trombones”, “Goodnight, My Someone”, “Till There Was You”, “Trouble”, “My White Knight”, “Lida Rose”, “I Ain’t Down Yet”, “Belly Up to the Bar, Boys”, “The Big Clown Balloons”, “Pine Cones and Holly Berries”, “My Wish”, “Iowa Fight Song”, “I See the Moon”, “Ask Not” and “Symphonic Variations on an American Theme.” He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1982. In 2020, The Great American Songbook Foundation inducted Willson into the Great American Songbook Hall of Fame.

Kahn, Gus

  • LC89002698
  • Person
  • 1886-11-06 - 1941-10-08

Born in Koblenz, Germany on November 6, 1886, Gustav Gerson Kahn emigrated to America with his family when he was four; the family settled in Chicago in 1892. Gus completed grammar school where he demonstrated an ability to create rhymes and won an essay writing contest. He worked at various jobs including a stint as a pottery wrapper in a china factory while continuing to write lyrics. In 1909, Kahn collaborated with Grace LeBoy, a song composer for music publisher Joseph H. Remick whom he met on New Year’s Eve, 1908. Their collaboration of his lyrics and her melody resulted in Kahn’s first hit “Gee, I Wish I Had a Girl,” and the marriage of Kahn and LeBoy after an 8-year professional relationship. The marriage produced two children, Donald and Irene.

In 1932, Kahn moved his family from Chicago to Hollywood where he worked as a lyricist for MGM and RKO. With Vincent Youmans, Kahn wrote the score for Flying Down to Rio, the cinematic debut of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Before his untimely death in 1941, Kahn worked on numerous films including The Merry Widow, Naughty Marietta, and Girl of the Golden West. His last hit, “You Stepped Out of a Dream,” appeared in the 1941 movie Ziegfeld Girl.

Kahn worked with and befriended many of the top composers of the period including Walter Donaldson, Richard Whiting, and Harry Warren; his circle of friends also included actors and singers like Eddie Cantor and Al Jolson and bandleaders Guy Lombardo and Isham Jones. An avid golfer, Kahn was known to write lyrics while playing a course with Walter Donaldson. Al Jolson served as godfather to son Donald. Kahn served on the ASCAP Board of Directors from 1927 to 1930 and was admitted to the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 1970. His 32-year songwriting career produced approximately 800 published songs, many of which remain standards today.