Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b Burton Levy, 2 Feb. '12, NYC; d 5 Jan. '97) Songwriter (and pianist) on Broadway and in Hollywood. Left school at 15 for Tin Pan Alley and was discovered in Atlantic City by George Gershwin's mother, playing his own arrangement of Gershwin's 'S'wonderful' on the piano; his first performed songs were in revue Three's A Crowd '30. Went to Hollywood '33 where Joan Crawford immediately loved his first film song 'Everything I Have Is Yours' (Dancing Lady), nom. for an Oscar. He discovered eleven-year-old Frances Gumm '34 singing with her sisters (as 'Baby Gumm') between films in a cinema, and could not believe his ears; auditioned at MGM her name soon changed to Judy Garland. Back on Broadway he wrote for Al Jolson's Hold On To Your Hats '39 and for Garland in Babes On Broadway '41, the latter show incl. '(I Like New York In June) How About You?' with Ralph Freed. Teamed with Yip Harburg for Finian's Rainbow '47 incl. 'How Are Things In Glocca Morra?', 'When I'm Not Near The Girl I Love' and 'Old Devil Moon'. Film Royal Wedding '51 (with Alan Lerner) incl. Oscar winner 'Too Late Now'; they wrote show On A Clear Day You Can See Forever '65 (won a Grammy). He made an album with Michael Feinstein '90; later said, 'There haven't been four bars of music created in the last 15 years that could compare with what George Gershwin threw away.' Other songs incl. 'Stop, You're Breaking My Heart' (with Ted Kohler), 'I Hear Music' (with Frank Loesser). He also worked with Al Dubin, Ira Gershwin, Dorothy Fields etc.