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With the score of such long-running Broadway classics as High Button Shoe, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Peter Pan, Gypsy, Bells Are Ringing, Funny Girl and the Tony-winning Hallelujah Baby! to his credit, composer Jule Styne ranks as one of a handful of undisputed architects of the American musical theater. From 1949 through 1974, nearly every new Broadway season saw the opening of a show with a Jule Styne score, many of them a result of his winning partnership with Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Some years boasted two or three Styne hits running simultaneously.
Born Julius Kerwin Styne in London's East End, Styne's family immigrated to the U.S. in 1912, where young Julius showed such a talent for the piano that he performed with the Chicago, St. Louis, and Detroit Symphonies before age 10.
In 1921, a 16-year-old Styne was commissioned to write a song by a teenaged Mike Todd for a musical act he was creating. The result was "The Moth and the Flame," and the world has been listening to Styne songs ever since--1,500 published songs, to be exact. In Hollywood, where Styne found a champion in Frank Sinatra, his fruitful collaboration with Sammy Cahn yielded a string of Hit Parade leaders plus the exuberant score for MGM's Anchors Away and the Oscar-winning Three Coins in a Fountain.
Styne's unforgettable songs for Broadway include "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend," "The Party's Over," "Let Me Entertain You," and "People." And the genius of Jule Styne has sparked the theatrical careers of Broadway legends Carol Channing, Judy Holliday, Mary Martin, Ethyl Merman, Carol Burnett, Nanette Fabray, Phil Silvers, and Barbra Steisand.
Elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972 and the Theatre Hall of Fame in 1981, one of Styne's most treasured honors came in 1959, on the occasion of his 25th anniversary in show business, when the following tribute was read into the Congressional Record: "The lives of Americans throughout our land as well as the lives of people throughout the corners of the world have been enriched by the artistry and genius of Jule Style."