Alan Jay Lerner

Alan Jay Lerner

Infobox Actor
name = Alan Jay Lerner
birthdate = birth date|1918|8|31
birthplace = New York City, New York
deathdate = death date and age|1986|6|14|1918|8|31
deathplace = New York City, New York
spouse = Ruth Boyd (1940-1947)
Marion Bell (1947-1949)
Nancy Olson (1950-1957)
Micheline Muselli Pozzo diBorgo (1957-1965)
Karen Gunderson (1966-1974)
Sandra Payne (1974-1976)
Nina Bushkin (m.1977)
Liz Robertson (1981-1986)
academyawards = Best Original Screenplay
1951 "An American in Paris"
Best Adapted Screenplay
1958 "Gigi"
Best Original Song
1958 "Gigi"
goldenglobeawards = Best Original Song
1968 "Camelot"
Best Original Score
1975 "The Little Prince"
tonyawards = Bes Book of a Musical
1957 "My Fair Lady"
Best Original Score
1957"My Fair Lady"
1974 "Gigi"

Alan Jay Lerner (August 31, 1918 – June 14, 1986) was an American Broadway lyricist and librettist. Together with Frederick Loewe, he created some of the world's most popular and enduring works of musical theatre. Lerner wrote the lyrics for some of the theatre's most famous songs. He won three Tony Awards and three Academy Awards, among other honors.


Born in New York City, he was the son of Joseph Jay Lerner, the brother of the owner of the Lerner Stores, a chain of dress shops. The founder and owner of Lerner Stores was Samuel Alexander Lerner. Alan Jay Lerner was educated at Bedales School, Choate Rosemary Hall, and Harvard, where he befriended classmate John F. Kennedy. Like Cole Porter at Yale and Richard Rodgers at Columbia, his career in musical theater began with his collegiate contributions, in Lerner's case to the annual Harvard Hasty Pudding musicals.

Following graduation, Lerner wrote scripts for radio, including "Your Hit Parade", until he was introduced to a down-on-his-heels Austrian composer Frederick Loewe, who needed a lyricist, in 1942. Their first collaboration was a musical adaptation of Barry Connor's farce "The Patsy" called "Life of the Party" for a Detroit stock company. It enjoyed a nine-week run and encouraged the duo to join forces with Arthur Pierson for "What's Up?", which opened on Broadway in 1943. It ran for 63 performances and was followed two years later by "The Day Before Spring". One of Broadway's most successful partnerships had been established.

Their first hit was "Brigadoon" (1947), a romantic fantasy set in a mystical Scottish village, directed by Robert Lewis. It was followed in 1951 by the less successful Gold Rush story "Paint Your Wagon".

Lerner poured his excess energy into collaborations with Kurt Weill on the stage musical "Love Life" (1948) and Burton Lane on the movie musical "Royal Wedding" (1951). In that same year Lerner also wrote the Oscar-winning original screenplay for "An American in Paris", produced by Arthur Freed and directed by Vincente Minnelli. This was the same team who would later join with Lerner and Loewe to create "Gigi".

In 1956 Lerner and Loewe unveiled "My Fair Lady". Their adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion" retained his social commentary and added unusually appropriate songs for the characters of Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins, played originally by Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison. It was hugely popular and set box-office records in New York and London. When brought to the screen in 1964, the movie version would win eight Oscars.

Lerner and Loewe's run of success continued with their next project, a film adaptation of stories from Colette, the Academy Award winning film musical "Gigi", starring Leslie Caron. The film won all of its nine Oscar nominations, a record at that point in time, and a special Oscar for co-star Maurice Chevalier.

The Lerner-Loewe partnership cracked under the stress of producing the Arthurian "Camelot" in 1960, with Loewe resisting Lerner's desire to direct as well as write. "Camelot" was a hit nonetheless, with a poignant coda; immediately following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, his widow told Life Magazine that JFK's administration reminded her of the "one brief shining moment" of Lerner and Loewe's "Camelot." To this day "Camelot" is invoked to describe the idealism, romance, and tragedy of the Kennedy years.

Loewe retired to Palm Springs, California while Lerner went through a series of unsuccessful musicals with such composers as Andre Previn ("Coco"), John Barry ("Lolita, My Love"), Leonard Bernstein ("1600 Pennsylvania Avenue"), Burton Lane ("Carmelina") and Charles Strouse ("Dance a Little Closer", based on the film, "Idiot's Delight", nicknamed "Close A Little Faster" by Broadway wags because it closed on opening night). Most biographers blame Lerner's professional decline on the lack of not only a strong composer but a strong director whom Lerner could collaborate with (as Neil Simon did with Mike Nichols or Stephen Sondheim did with Harold Prince). (Moss Hart, who had directed "My Fair Lady," died shortly after "Camelot" opened). In 1965 Lerner collaborated again with Burton Lane in the musical On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, which was adapted for film in 1970. Lerner was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1971.

In 1973 Lerner coaxed Fritz Loewe out of retirement to augment the "Gigi" score for a musical stage adaptation. The following year they collaborated on a musical film version of "The Little Prince", based on the classic children's tale by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. This film was a critical and box office failure, but has become a cult favorite, with the soundtrack recording and the film itself back in print (on CD and DVD) after many years of being unavailable.

In 1978 he penned "The Street Where I Live", his account of three of his and Loewe's successes, "My Fair Lady", "Gigi", and "Camelot" along with autobiographical information. In the last year of his life he published "The Musical Theatre: A Celebration", a well-reviewed history of the theatre replete with personal anecdotes and his trademark wit. A book of Lerner's lyrics entitled "A Hymn To Him", edited by Benny Green, was published in 1987.

At the time of Lerner's death, he had just begun to write lyrics for "The Phantom of the Opera", and was replaced by Charles Hart. He had turned down an invitation to write the English-language lyrics for the musical version of "Les Miserables". He also had been working with Gerard Kenny in London on a musical version of the classic film "My Man Godfrey".

Lerner had an addictive personality; for more than twenty years he battled an amphetamine addiction, and he would marry eight times. The drugs and divorces cost him much of his wealth. When he died, he reportedly owed the IRS over $1,000,000 (USD) in back taxes.

Lerner died from lung cancer in Manhattan at the age of 67. At the time of his death he was married to actress Liz Robertson, who was thirty-six years his junior.


*"Royal Wedding", 1951 (lyricist)
*"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", 1960 (lyricist)
*"On a Clear Day You Can See Forever", 1970 (screenwriter/lyricist)
*"Tribute", 1980 ("It's All for the Best," lyricist)
*"Secret Places", 1984 (title song lyricist)

ee also

*Lerner and Loewe

External links

* [ Alan Jay Lerner's biographic sketch] at Find A Grave


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Alan Jay Lerner — (* 31. August 1918 in New York City; † 14. Juni 1986 ebenda) war ein US amerikanischer Autor und Liedtexter des Great American Songbook. Er arbeitete mit Frederick Loewe zusammen. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Leben und Wirken 2 Musicals …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Alan Jay Lerner — (Nueva York, 31 de agosto de 1918 ibídem, 14 de junio de 1986) fue un libretista, letrista y guionista estadounidense. En su carrera ganó tres premios de la Academia, tres premios Tony y dos Globos de Oro. Entre sus obras se encuentra el musical… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Alan Jay Lerner — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Lerner. Alan Jay Lerner Données clés Naissance 31 août 1918 New York …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Alan Jay Lerner — ➡ Lerner and Loewe * * * …   Universalium

  • Alan Jay Lerner — noun United States lyricist who collaborated on musicals with Frederick Loewe (1918 1986) • Syn: ↑Lerner • Instance Hypernyms: ↑lyricist, ↑lyrist …   Useful english dictionary

  • Alan Jay Lerner — n. (1918 1986) U.S. lyricist playwright and librettist …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Alan J. Lerner — Alan Jay Lerner (* 31. August 1918 in New York City; † 14. Juni 1986 ebenda) war ein US amerikanischer Autor und Liedtexter des Great American Songbook. Er arbeitete mit Frederick Loewe zusammen. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Leben und Wirken 2 Music …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • LERNER, ALAN JAY — (1918–1986), U.S. lyric writer and librettist who collaborated in several successful musicals. Lerner was born in New York and wrote for advertising agencies and radio before teaming up with the composer, Frederick Loewe. Their first hit was the… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Lerner,Alan Jay — Ler·ner (lûrʹnər), Alan Jay. 1918 1986. American playwright and lyricist. He wrote a number of musicals with the composer Frederick Loewe, including Brigadoon (1947) and My Fair Lady (1956). * * * …   Universalium

  • Lerner, Alan Jay — born Aug. 31, 1918, New York, N.Y., U.S. died June 14, 1986, New York City U.S. librettist and lyricist. Born to a prosperous retailing family, he studied at Juilliard and Harvard. He wrote more than 500 radio scripts between 1940 and 1942, the… …   Universalium

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