Jule Styne (1905-1994)

Born:  December 31, 1905, London, England
Died:  September 20, 1994, New York, N.Y.

Jule Styne was born Julius Stein in London in 1905, the first of three children.  His parents had a grocery store.  He studied piano with a teacher from the London Conservatory of Music from the time he was 6 until his family emigrated to America when he was 8.  In Chicago, he studied piano at the Chicago College of Music, eventually taking on composition courses as well.  A child prodigy, he played with the Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis Symphony orchestras while still under 12, but his hands were too small for a classical career.  In the liner notes of the CD Michael Feinstein Sings The Jule Styne Songbook, Styne tells Feinstein the second finger on his right hand was injured in a factory accident and this ended his classical career.

As a teenager he played in bands and also played pit piano for stage shows; he played in a pit band in a burlesque house when he was 13, without his parents' knowledge.  He joined the Ben Pollack Band in 1926 which also included Glenn Miller, Charlie Spivak, Fud Livingston, Gil Rodin, Jack Teagarten and Benny Goodman.  [In the liner notes of the CD Michael Feinstein Sings The Jule Styne Songbook, Styne tells Feinstein that most of his melodic themes are jazz tenor solos, which he attributes to his background with the Ben Pollack Band.]

To impress a girl he wrote his first song, which later was given lyrics by Ned Miller.  [In the liner notes of the CD Michael Feinstein Sings The Jule Styne Songbook, Styne tells Feinstein the lyrics were written by Irving Caesar; and the credits read Ned Miller, Chester Cohn and Bennie Krueger.]  The result, SUNDAY, sold five hundred thousand copies of sheet music; and Styne had his first hit song at age 21.  Subsequently, he wrote LITTLE JOE (1928) for Mildred Bailey, the singer with the Paul Whiteman band, IN A CANOE (1930) and IT IS THE WORDS, NOT THE MUSIC (1933).

In 1932, Jule formed his own dance band, Jule Stein and His Society Orchestra.  Around this time he changed his name to Jule Styne to avoid confusion with Dr. Julius Stein who was head of Music Corporation of America.  Among other gigs, the dance band performed for four weeks for Fanny Brice at the "225" Club in Chicago, giving Jule insight he could call on 27 years later for FUNNY GIRL.

Around 1934, Jule moved to New York where he played piano in a number of bands and began to work as a vocal coach.  He conducted the orchestra for Harry Richman's Lux Radio series.  A vocalist he coached, Andrea Leeds, caught the eye of Hollywood mogul Max Schenk and Jule was offered a job at Twentieth Century Fox as vocal coach to Tony Martin, Alice Faye, Shirley Temple, Linda Darnell, Jane Withers, Joan and Constance Bennett and Mary Martin.

In 1939 he was musical director for Alice Faye's radio show and in 1941, when 20th cut drastically back on their musicals, he moved to Republic where he was their resident song writer.  He was also loaned out to other, more prestigious studios.  By 1943 Jule had teamed up with Sammy Cahn; they contracted for a seven-picture deal with Columbia Pictures but only finished three.

Among the songs he wrote/films he worked on are:

Song Film Lyricist
WAKE UP AND LIVE (1937)
REBECCA OF SUNNYBROOK FARM (1938)
LITTLE MISS BROADWAY (1938)
Limpy Dimp HOLD THAT CO-ED (1938)
STRAIGHT, PLACE AND SHOW (1938)
KENTUCKY MOONSHINE (1938)
I Love Watermelon for a Republic Roy Rogers film
PACK UP YOUR TROUBLES (1939)
STOP, LOOK AND LOVE (1939)
HOUSE ACROSS THE BAY (1940)
SING, DANCE, PLENTY HOT (1940)
GIRL FROM HAVANA (1940)
MELODY AND MOONLIGHT (1940)
MELODY RANCH (1940)
HIT PARADE OF 1941 (1940)
DICK TRACEY VS. CRIME INC. (1941)
Look at You, Look at Me SIS HOPKINS (1941) Frank Loesser
Oh, Henry SIS HOPKINS (1941) Frank Loesser
SHERIFF OF TOMBSTONE (1941)
The Bird and The Wolf GAUCHOS OF EL DORADO (1941)
ANGELS WITH BROKEN WINGS (1941)
Since You SAILORS ON LEAVE (1941) Frank Loesser
DOWN MEXICO WAY (1941)
The Guy in the Polka Dotted Tie ICE CAPADES (1941) Sol Meyer
Forever and Ever ICE CAPADES (1941)
COWBOY SERENADE (1942)
Conchita, Marquita, Lolita PRIORITIES ON PARADE (1942) Frank Loesser, Herb Magidson
I Don't Want to Walk Without You SWEATER GIRL (1942) Frank Loesser
Purple Sage in the Twilight for Gene Autry; which sold 700,000 copies of the sheet music
JOHNNY DOUGHBOY (1942) Sammy Cahn
SLEEPY TIME GAL (1942) Herb Magidson
ICE-CAPADES REVUE (1942)
I've Heard That Song Before YOUTH ON PARADE (1942) Sammy Cahn
HIT PARADE OF 1943 (1943)
Ding Dong, Sing a Song HENRY ALDRICH SWINGS IT (1943)
LET'S FACE IT (1943) Sammy Cahn
THUMBS UP (1943) Sammy Cahn
LARCENY WITH MUSIC (1943)
SALUTE FOR THREE (1943)
Cracker Barrel Country SWING YOUR PARTNER (1943) Frank Loesser
TAHITI HONEY (1943)
Down Mexico Way
Pepita, Rosita, Juanita Lopez Herb Magidson
A Change of Heart
Some Other Time STEP LIVELY (1943) Sammy Cahn
Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are STEP LIVELY (1943) Sammy Cahn
JAM SESSION (1944) Sammy Cahn
CASANOVA IN BURLESQUE (1944)
KNICKERBOCKER HOLIDAY (1944) Sammy Cahn
Keep Your Powder Dry JANIE (1944) Sammy Cahn
Where Did You Learn to Love? FOLLOW THE BOYS (1944) Sammy Cahn
I'll Walk Alone FOLLOW THE BOYS (1944) Sammy Cahn
There Goes That Song Again CAROLINA BLUES (1944) Sammy Cahn
BEHIND CITY LIGHTS (1945)
I LOVE A BANDLEADER (1945) Sammy Cahn
TELL IT TO A STAR (9145) Sammy Cahn
RADIO STARS ON PARADE (1945) Sammy Cahn, Frank Loesser
TONIGHT AND EVERY NIGHT (1945) Sammy Cahn
I Fall In Love Too Easily ANCHORS AWEIGH (1945) Sammy Cahn
The Charm of You ANCHORS AWEIGH (1945) Sammy Cahn
I Begged Her ANCHORS AWEIGH (1945) Sammy Cahn
CINDERELLA JONES (1946) Sammy Cahn
I'm Glad I Waited for You TARS AND SPARS (1946) Sammy Cahn
Five Minutes More SWEETHEART OF SIGMA CHI (1946) Sammy Cahn
You're the Cause of It All THE KID FROM BROOKLYN (1946) Sammy Cahn
Give Me Five Minutes More EARL CARROLL SKETCHBOOK (1946) Sammy Cahn
I've Never Forgotten EARL CARROLL SKETCHBOOK (1946) Sammy Cahn
I Got a Gal I Love LADIES' MAN (1947) Sammy Cahn
What Am I Gonna Do About You? LADIES' MAN (1947) Sammy Cahn
It's the Same Old Dream IT HAPPENED IN BROOKLYN (1947) Sammy Cahn
I Believe IT HAPPENED IN BROOKLYN (1947) Sammy Cahn
Time After Time IT HAPPENED IN BROOKLYN (1947) Sammy Cahn
Ever Homeward MIRACLE OF THE BELLS (1948) Sammy Cahn
GLAMOUR GIRL (1948) Sammy Cahn
KILLER DILLER (1948)
It's Magic ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS (1948) Sammy Cahn
IT'S A GREAT FEELING (1949) Sammy Cahn
THE GOLDEN STALLION (1949)
B-postrophe K-postrophe, Brooklyn WEST POINT STORY (1950) Sammy Cahn
MEET ME AFTER THE SHOW (1951)
It's Only Money DOUBLE DYNAMITE (1951) Sammy Cahn
Kisses and Tears DOUBLE DYNAMITE (1951) Sammy Cahn
MACAO (1952)
Diamond's Are a Girl's Best Friend GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES (1953) Leo Robin
LIVING IT UP (1954)
Three Coins in the Fountain THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN (1954) Sammy Cahn
MY SISTER EILEEN (1955)
BELLS ARE RINGING (1960) Betty Comden, Adolf Green
POCKETFUL OF MIRACLES (1961 Sammy Cahn
GYPSY (1962) Stephen Sondheim
WHAT A WAY TO GO (1964)
THE COOL ONES (1967) Sammy Cahn
FUNNY GIRL (1968)
THIEVES (1977)
Poor Little Rhode Island Sammy Cahn
There Goes That Song Again Sammy Cahn
Let It Snow, Let It Snow (1945) Sammy Cahn
Saturday Night is the Loneliest Night of the Week (1945) Sammy Cahn
It's Been a Long, Long Time (1945) Sammy Cahn
The Victory Polka Sammy Cahn
The Things We Did Last Summer (1946) Sammy Cahn
What Makes the Sun Set? Sammy Cahn
I Love an Old-Fashioned Song Sammy Cahn
The Christmas Waltz Sammy Cahn

Three Coins in the Fountain won the Academy Award in 1954 for best song.

Frank Sinatra had many hit records of Styne and Cahn songs and insisted they write the songs for ANCHORS AWEIGH.

Styne and Cahn had an unsuccessful stage musical in 1944, GLAD TO SEE YOU, about a touring USO group on the islands where men were in battle which starred Eddie Foy, Jr., Jane Withers and June Knight. It expired on its Boston opening, but produced Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry.

In 1947, Styne and Cahn had their first Broadway smash hit with HIGH BUTTON SHOES, starring Nanette Fabray and Phil Silvers. It was based on the book THE SISTERS LIKED THEM HANDSOME by Stephen Longstreet, who wrote the libretto.  Set in 1913, it was about a couple of swindlers, Harrison Floy (Silver) and Mr. Pontdue (Joey Faye) who arrive in New Brunswick to sell swampland real estate and fix the upcoming Rutgers-Princeton game.  They become involved with Papa and Mama Longstreet (Nanette Fabray), an unmarried daughter and little Stevie Longstreet.  The production was notable for a KEYSTONE KOPS chase ballet choreographed by Jerome Robins.  The show ran for 727 performances and won the Donaldson award.  It had such hit songs as:

Also in the cast were Mark Dawson, Jack McCauley, Lois Lee and Johnny Stewart.  Other numbers included:

In 1949, the Broadway show GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES ran for 740 performances. This time, Jule Styne wrote to the lyrics of Leo Robin with the libretto by Joseph Fields and Anita Loos based on her book A GIRL LIKE I. In this show, Carol Channing became a star singing such songs as:

Also in the cast were George S. Irving, Eric Brotherson, Jack McCauley and Yvonne Adair.  The show was made into a film in 1953.  Other numbers included:

1951 the Broadway revue TWO ON THE AISLE starred Bert Lahr and ran for 279 performances.  The libretto and lyrics were by Comden and Green.  The hit from this show was If You Hadn't But You Did.  Also in the cast were Dolores Gray, Fred Bryan and Kathryne Mylroie.  Other numbers included:

In THEY'RE PLAYING OUR SONG (interviews with American songwriters by Max Wilk, published 1997 by Da Capo Press), Styne talks about the finale of this revue:  "The character Bert was playing was Siegfried, and we mixed up a finale.  Brunnhilde was in a fire up there and Bert walked down and looked at her upstage, and she was screaming at him.  "Ho you to ho, ho you to ho."  The fire was burning and whatnot, the Rhinemaidens on the side, it was a combination of all Wagner girls, nude in the forest, nude girls in the trees, and Bert walked down, very noble, almost like Richard II, and he looked at the fire and took out a seltzer bottle and put the whole fire out.  But with such great dignity; he wasn't doing just a burlesque act, he played it as if he had a chore, like "My God, there's a fire, and I'll put it out and save this girl," and he just squirted the selzer out, and he came down and said, "And that was that."  Such a scream I never heard from an audience."

1953 the Broadway show HAZEL FLAGG, lyrics by Bob Hilliard, libretto by Ben Hecht based on NOTHING SACRED (1937), a screenplay written by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, ran for 190 performances.  The plot was that a brattish girl (Gallagher) wants to get away from New York and claims she's dying, allowing the city to open hearts and wallets.  The cast included Helen Gallagher, Thomas Mitchell, Sheree North, Benay Venuta, Jack Whiting, John Howard, Dean Campbell, Ross Martin, John Brascia and Jonathan Harris.  The hit from this was Every Street's a Boulevard in Old New York.

Additional songs included:

1954 the Broadway show PETER PAN had lyrics by Adolf Green and Betty Comden with libretto based on James Barrie's play.  The score was originally written by Moose Charlap with lyrics by Carolyn Leigh, but Jule and Comden and Green were brought it during previews.  The show starred Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard and ran for 154 performances and was shown on NBC in 3 different versions.  Also in the cast were Margalo Gillmore, Sondra Lee, Robert Harrington, Kathy Nolan and Joseph Stafford.  The Styne/Comden/Green songs were:

1956 Another Broadway smash hit BELLS ARE RINGING, with lyrics and libretto by the team of Betty Comden and Adolph Green. The show ran for 924 performances.  In addition to Judy Holliday, in her first Broadway appearance, the cast included Sydney Chaplin, Jean Stapleton, Eddie Lawrence, Peter Gennaro and Eddie Heim.  The story was about an operator at an answering service who becomes embroiled in the lives of her customers.  It was made into a film in 1960.  The hits from this were:

In addition, Jule's score featured the following songs:

1958 the Broadway show SAY, DARLING ran 332 performances with a cast including David Wayne, Vivian Blaine, Robert Morse, Johnny Desmond, Mitchell Gregg, Steve Condos, Matt Mattox, Jerome Cowan, Constance Ford, Walter Klavun and Horace McMahon.  Elliott Gould was a dancer in the chorus.  The lyrics were by Betty Comden and Adolph Green and the libretto was by Marian and Richard Bissell and Abe Burrows based on Bissell's experience having his previous book 7 1/2 CENTS made into the Broadway musical PAJAMA GAME (1954).  Jule's score featured:

1959 the Broadway show GYPSY, Jule's masterpiece, based on the early life of stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and libretto by Arthur Laurents ran for 702 performances.  The cast included Ethel Merman, Jack Klugman, Sandra Church, Paul Wallace, Maria Karnilova, Bernie Knee, Jacqueline Mayro, Lane Bradbury, Laura Leslie and Karen Moore.  It was made into a film in 1959 and a TV version was made in 1993.  The hits from this included:

Jule's score also featured:

GYPSY had successful Broadway revivals in 1974 with Angela Lansbury,1989 with Tyne Daly, 2004 with Bernadette Peters and 2008 with Patti LuPone.  In THEY'RE PLAYING OUR SONG (interviews with American songwriters by Max Wilk, published 1997 by Da Capo Press), Styne opines Gypsy "was the biggest kind of landmark that ever was for me.  I became the superb dramatist out of that. ... It was, of course, one of the greatest shows I have done." 

1960 the Broadway show DO RE MI, with lyrics by Comden and Green and libretto by Garson Kanin based on a novella of Kanin's about how the Mafia comes out of retirement, brought Phil Silvers back to Broadway after 10 years.  The show ran for 400 performances.  Also in the cast were Nancy Walker, David Burns, John Reardon, Nancy Dussault, George Givot and George Mathews.  The big hit from this show was Make Someone Happy.

Additional numbers were:

1961 the Broadway show, SUBWAYS ARE FOR SLEEPING, again with lyrics and libretto by Comden and Green.  This ran for 205 performances.  The show was based on ten short stores about lost souls from a collection by Edmund Love.  The cast included Phyllis Newman, Sydney Chaplin, Carol Lawrence, Gene Varrone, Orson Bean, John Sharpe, Cy Young and Bob Gorman.  Michael Bennett was in the chorus.  Jule's score featured:

1964 the Broadway show FUNNY GIRL, lyrics by Bob Merrill and libretto by Isobel Lennart.  This ran for 1,348 performances.  The cast included Barbra Streisand, Sydney Chaplin, Kay Medford, Jean Stapleton and Danny Meehan.  It was made into a film in 1968.  The hits from this show were:

Other numbers included:

In the liner notes of the CD Michael Feinstein Sings The Jule Styne Songbook, Styne tells Feinstein he considers FUNNY GIRL his best score.

1964 FADE OUT, FADE IN, a Hollywood satire, ran 271 performances.  Lyrics and libretto were by Comden and Green.  The cast included Carol Burnett, Jack Cassidy, Tiger Haynes, Lou Jacobi, Mitchell Jason, Dick Patterson, Don Crichton, Tina Louise, Virginia Payne, Aileen Poe, Dan Resin, Frank Tweddell and Reuben Singer.  Jule's score featured:

1967 HALLELUJAH, BABY! ran 293 performances with a book by Arthur Laurents and a score by Comden and Green. The show was originally written for Lena Horne as a tough, hard-hitting black pilgrim's progress through the changing social attitudes of the 20th century, covering six decades.  The central character, played by Uggams, is Georgina, who goes from a cleaning girl to make it in show business. The cast included Leslie Uggams, Robert Hooks, Allen Case, Marilyn Cooper, Alan Weeks, Hope Clarke, Lillian Hayman, Winston DeWitt Hemsley, Justin McDonough, Garrett Morris, Barbara Sharma, Clifford Allen, Lou Angel, Sandra Lein, Saundra McPherson and Kenneth Scott.  The show won the Tony Award for Best Musical of 1968 and Leslie Uggams won for Best Actress in a Musical, tying with Patricia Routledge of DARLING OF THE DAY.  Lillian Hayman  won the Tony for Best Supporting Actress in a musical.  Jule and Comden and Green won the 1968 Tony for Best Composer and Lyricist.  Jule's award-winning score featured:

1968 DARLING OF THE DAY had a run of only 32 performances.   The lyrics were by E. Y. Harburg and the libretto was by Nunnally Johnson, based on Arnold Bennett's novel BURIED ALIVE which had been made into the film HOLY MATRIMONY (1943).  The show was about British artist Priam Farll (Price) who hated the Establishment and abandoned England after being ostracized by Queen Victoria.  When King Edward VII came into power, he ordered the world-famous painter to return home to receive a knighthood.  Farll's butler dies en route to England and Farll assumes his identity, claiming that the famous artist has been buried at sea.  Farll then begins a new life.  The cast included Vincent Price, Patricia Routledge, Teddy Green, Beth Howland, Joy Nichols, Charles Welch, Brenda Forbes, Mitchell Jason, Reid Klein, Marc Jorda and Peter Woodthorpe.  Patricia Routledge won the 1968 Tony for Best Actress in a Musical, tying with Leslie Uggams of  HALLELUIA, BABY.  Jule's score featured:

In the liner notes of the CD Michael Feinstein Sings The Jule Styne Songbook, Styne tells Feinstein that LET'S SEE WHAT HAPPENS is his favorite song.

1970 LOOK TO THE LILIES reunited Julie with his long ago lyricist Sammy Cahn; the libretto was by Leonard Spigelgass.  The show based on the film LILIES OF THE FIELD (1963) ran only 25 performances.  The cast included Al Freeman, Jr., Shirley Booth, Taina Elg, Carmen Alvarez, Patti Karr and Titos Vandis.  The score included.

1971 PRETTYBELLE with lyrics and libretto by Bob Merrill.  The cast included Angela Lansbury. Mark Dawson, Michael Jason, Bert Michaels and Peter Lombard.  The show closed out of town in Boston, never making it to Broadway.  Jule's score featured

1972 SUGAR had a run of 505 performances.  Lyrics were by Bob Merrill and the libretto was by Peter Stone based on the film SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959) about two out of work musicians who accidentally witness the St. Valentine's Day massacre in Chicago and disguise themselves as women in order to join an all-girl band and get out of town.  The cast included Robert Morse, Elaine Joyce, Cyril Ritchard, Tony Roberts, Sheila Smith, Steve Condos and Alan Cass.  Jule's score featured:

1974 LORELEI was a revamping of GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES which ran for 320 performances.  The cast included Carol Channing recreating her role of Lorelei Lee, Jack Fletcher, Robert Fitch, Tamara Long, Peter Palmer, Lee Roy Reams and Ian Tucker.  The original Leo Robin lyrics were supplemented by additional lyrics from Comden and Green and Gail Parent and Kenny Solms wrote the libretto.  Jule's score featured:

1978 BAR MITZVAH BOY with lyrics by Don Black and libretto by Jack Rosenthal based on the prize-winning BBC production.  That show ran for 78 performances in London and never was produced on Broadway.  The cast included Joyce Blair, Vivienne Martin, Ray C. Davis, Benny Lee, Barry Martin, Harry Towb, Barry Angel, Zelah Clarke, Leonie Cosman, Gordon Faith, Ashley Knight and Peter Whitman.  Jule's score featured:

1980 ONE NIGHT STAND with lyrics and libretto by Herb Gardner.  The show closed after 8 previews.  The cast included Charles Kimbrough, Jeff Keller, Catherine Cox, Paul Binotto, William Morrison and Jack Weston.  Jule's score featured:

1985 PIECES OF EIGHT with lyrics by Susan Birkenhead, and book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, based on TREASURE ISLAND by Robert Louis Stevenson.  Cast included George Hearn, George Lee Andrews, Graeme Campbell and Jonathan Ross.  Opened November 27, 1985 at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, Canada and closed out of town.

1993 THE RED SHOES with book by Marsha Norman and lyrics by Norman and Paul Stryker (a pseudonym for Bob Merrill, Jule's FUNNY GIRL collaborator), based on the 1948 movie directed by Michael Powell about a ballerina who sacrifices everything for her art.  Cast included Roger Rees (who left during previews and was replaced by the late Steve Barton), Hugh Panaro, George De La Pena, Leslie Browne, John Marshall, Tad Ingram and Margaret Illmann.  It closed after 5 performances.  Ethan Mordden (writing in THE HAPPIEST CORPSE I'VE EVER SEEN (subtitled THE LAST TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OF THE BROADWAY MUSICAL) published by Palgrave Macmillan 2004) called this "a work of the most spirited content".  Jule's score included:

Most composers worked on Broadway shows before being called to Hollywood. Jule reversed that. He spent ten years writing for films before his successful Broadway career.

He was a member of the Songwriter's Hall of Fame.  Jule Styne wrote 1500 songs during a 7-decade career.  He died in Mount Sinai Hospital in 1994 where he had undergone open heart surgery 6 weeks previously.

A 1976 quote from JULE, THE STORY OF COMPOSER JULE STYNE by Theodore Taylor:  I've led an exciting and hopefully a productive life.  I've worked with some marvelous people, even a few creative giants, in both films and on the stage.  A few have been the best talents of our time.  Any composer who could write for both a Sinatra and a Streisand in one lifetime is lucky.  And if I think about GYPSY, I think what a privilege it was to work with Jerry Robbins, Arthur Laurents, Steve Sondheim, Ethel Merman.  That's a lot of talent for one show.

Stage shows Jule Styne was involved in as composer or producer include:

Links to lyrics:

Writing in THE HAPPIEST CORPSE I'VE EVER SEEN (subtitled THE LAST TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OF THE BROADWAY MUSICAL) published by Palgrave Macmillan 2004, Ethan Mordden opined that Jule Styne "never tired of composing, having never met a promising talent he wouldn't help, and having left behind the unique style of the Jule Styne Swing Ballad."

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