1910 - 1969
Frank Loesser has been called the most versatile of all Broadway composers. His five Broadway musicals, each a unique contribution to the art of the American musical theatre, were as different from each other as they were from the theatre of their day: Where’s Charley?, Guys And Dolls, The Most Happy Fella, Greenwillow, and How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying.
Born June 29, 1910, in New York City, Frank never studied music formally, although he couldn’t help coming under its influence in his childhood. His father was a distinguished German-born teacher of classical piano and his older brother, Arthur, was a renowned concert pianist, musicologist and music critic. Frank wrote his first song when he was 4 years old (“The May Party”), but he refused to study classical music. His interest was in pop music, which his father disdained. So he taught himself, first the harmonica, then the piano in his early teens.
Intrigued by word play, Frank began to write songs, sketches and radio scripts. He teamed up with William Schuman, who later became a serious composer and President of Juilliard. In 1931, they wrote “In Love with a Memory of You,” Frank’s first published lyric. He would go on to write lyrics for songs for over sixty films, including Destry Rides Again, Neptune’s Daughter, Thank Your Lucky Stars, and Fred Astaire’s Let’s Dance.
Frank was married twice, first to actress Lynn Loesser, with whom he had two children, Susan and John, then to his Most Happy Fella leading lady, Jo Sullivan, who gave him two daughters, Hannah and Emily. He died of lung cancer at the age of 59 on July 26, 1969, in his beloved New York City.