Roger Edens


Roger Edens

Roger Edens (9 November 1905, Hillsboro, Texas - 13 July 1970, Hollywood) was a Hollywood composer, arranger and associate producer, and is considered one of the major creative figures in Arthur Freed's musical film production unit at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer during the "golden era of Hollywood".

Early career and work with Judy Garland

Edens's parents were of Scots-Irish ancestry. He worked as a piano accompanist for ballroom dancers before going to work as a musical conductor on Broadway. He went to Hollywood in 1933 to write special material for Ethel Merman films at Paramount Pictures. In 1935 he joined MGM as a musical supervisor and occasional composer and arranger, notably of music for Judy Garland. He also appeared on screen opposite Eleanor Powell in a cameo in "Broadway Melody of 1936".

Arthur Freed, producer of musicals at MGM, was impressed by Edens and soon made him integral to his production team, which was rapidly growing and featured many of the greatest talents, recruited by Freed himself. Freed built a cabinet around himself, and in the early 1940s made Edens associate producer. The unit made dozens of popular and extremely successful musical films in the 1940s and into the 1950s, including "Meet Me in St. Louis" (1944), "Easter Parade" (1948), "On the Town" (1949), "Show Boat" (1951), "An American in Paris" (1951), "Singin' in the Rain" (1952), and "The Band Wagon" (1953).

Edens eventually separated from the MGM unit in the mid-fifties, when the musical film's days of glory were coming to an end. He had his own office, and worked on such projects as "Funny Face" (1957) with Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, and Kay Thompson at Paramount.

Edens is considered to be the single most important creative musical figure from the end of the 1930s until the beginning of the '60s. His career at MGM allowed him to work with the top musical performers including the young Judy Garland, of whom he was the original trainer and overseer, and a personal friend. He wrote special material for Garland including the famous "Dear Mr Gable - You Made Me love You" number in 1938 and was responsible for writing "It's A Great Day for the Irish" to showcase Garland's power-house voice in 1940. This became one of Garland's biggest hits and an Irish-American anthem played by military and marching bands every St. Patrick's Day world over. He continued to compose, score, and arrange MGM musicals throughout the 1940s. He also produced a number of films after the mid-50s and wrote special material for Garland's Palace Theatre debut in 1951 and for her London Palladium concerts the same year.

Birthday parties

He and Kay Thompson shared the same birthday (November 9th). From 1942 through 1957 they gave joint birthday parties during which each presented a surprise production number using special material which featured their friends -- Judy Garland, Kay Thompson, Maureen O'Hara, Ann Sothern, Charles Walters, Ralph Blane among others -- each never telling the other while rehearsing what the other was planning to present.

"Show Boat"

It was Edens, along with producer Arthur Freed, who was the real guiding force behind M-G-M's 1951 screen version of "Show Boat". Edens was the one who carried out the search for the right singer-actor to play Joe and sing "Ol' Man River", and it was Edens who discovered William Warfield after reading a rave review of a New York song recital that Warfield had given. Edens was also the one who supervised the cuts to the film after it was felt by the producer and the director that the original cut was too slow.

Awards and Honors

*Nominated for Music Scoring Awards (Best Score) 1939: "Babes in Arms" (w. George Stoll)
*Nominated for Music Scoring Awards (Best Score) 1940: "Strike up the Band" (w. George Stoll)
*Nominated for Music Best Song 1940:"Strike up the Band" "Our Love Affair" - Music & Lyrics
*Nominated for Music Scoring Awards (Scoring of a Musical Picture) 1942: "For Me and My Gal" (w. George Stoll)
*Nominated for Music Best Song 1947: Good News" "Pass That Peace Pipe" - Music & Lyrics (w. Ralph Blane & Hugh Martin)
*Music Scoring Awards (Scoring of a Musical Picture) 1948: "Easter Parade" (w. Johnny Green)
*Music Scoring Awards (Scoring of a Musical Picture) 1949: "On the Town" (w. Lennie Hayton)
*Music Scoring Awards (Scoring of a Musical Picture) 1950: "Annie Get Your Gun" (w. Adolph Deutsch)

(8 nominations, 3 Awards)


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