A highly distinguished composer for the musical theatre, films and Tin Pan Alley, Styne spent his early life in Bethnal Green, east London, where his father ran a butter and eggs store. He used to do Harry Lauder impressions, and when he was five, he was taken by his parents to see the great entertainer at the London Hippodrome. He climbed up on stage, and Lauder lent him his crook and encouraged him to sing 'She's My Daisy'. Something of a child prodigy, he was a competent pianist even before he emigrated with his family to the USA at the age of eight. They settled in Chicago, and Styne studied harmony and composition, and played with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, but had to abandon a classical career because 'my hands were too small - my span was inadequate'. While he was still at high school, Styne played the piano at burlesque houses, and composed his first two songs, 'The Guy In the Polka-Dot Tie' and 'The Moth And The Flame'. After graduating, he worked in nightclubs and for various pick-up groups, and in 1927, had a hit with the catchy 'Sunday' (written with Ned Miller, Chester Conn and Bennie Kreuger).
In the late 20s, Styne was a member of Ben Pollack's big-time Chicago Band, which at various times included legendary names such as Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller and Charlie Spivak. By 1932, he had formed his own band, which played at the nightclubs and speakeasies in Chicago. During the 30s he moved to Hollywood, via New York, and worked as a vocal coach at 20th Century Fox ('I taught Shirley Temple and Alice Faye how to sing!'), and wrote some songs for low-budget movies such as Hold That Co-Ed (1938, 'Limpy Dimp' with Sidney Clare and Nick Castle). He transferred to Republic Studios, the home of Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, and continued to contribute to shoestring productions such as Hit Parade Of 1941 ('Who Am I"', with Walter Bullock), Melody Ranch, Rookies On Parade and Angels With Broken Wings. On loan to Paramount, Styne teamed with Frank Loesser for 'I Don't Want To Walk Without You' and 'I Said No', which were featured in the Eddie Bracken movie Sweater Girl (1942). The former number was an enormous wartime hit, particularly for Harry James and his Orchestra, with a vocal by Helen Forrest. While at Republic, Styne met lyricist Sammy Cahn, and during the 40s they collaborated on numerous appealing songs, mostly for films, including 'I've Heard That Song Before', 'Five Minutes More', 'Victory Polka', 'Poor Little Rhode Island', 'Saturday Night (Is The Loneliest Night Of The Week)', 'Zuyder Zee', 'Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry' (from the 1944 flop musical Glad To See You), 'Anywhere', 'Can't You Read Between The Lines"', 'When The One You Love (Simply Won't Come Back)', 'I've Never Forgotten', 'The Things We Did Last Summer', 'Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!', 'I Gotta Gal I Love In North And South Dakota', 'It's Been A Long, Long Time', 'Ev'ry Day I Love You (Just A Little Bit More)', 'I'm In Love', 'It's Magic', 'It's You Or No One', 'Put 'Em In A Box, Tie It With A Ribbon' (the last three were from Doris Day's first movie, Romance On The High Seas), 'Give Me A Song With A Beautiful Melody' and 'It's A Great Feeling' (1949). During that period, Styne also collaborated with others, including Herb Magidson ('Barrelhouse Bessie From Basin Street' and 'Conchita, Marquita, Lolita, Pepita, Rosita, Juanita Lopez') and Walter Bishop ('Bop! Goes My Hearf). Many of those songs were immensely successful for Frank Sinatra, and Styne and Cahn wrote the scores for three of the singer's most successful films of the 40s, Step Lively ('As Long As There's Music', 'Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are', 'Some Other Time'), Anchors Aweigh ('The Charm Of You', 'I Fall In Love Too Easily', 'I Begged Her'), and It Happened In Brooklyn ('It's The Same Old Dream', 'Time After Time', 'I Believe', 'The Brooklyn Bridge'). Sinatra also introduced Styne and Cahn's Oscar-winning 'Three Coins In The Fountain' in 1954. Some years before that, Styne and Cahn had moved to New York to work on the score for the stage musical High Button Shoes ('Papa, Won't You Dance With Me', 'I Still Get Jealous', 'Can't You Just See Yourself"'). It starred Phil Silvers and Nanette Fabray, and ran for 727 performances.
After returning briefly to Hollywood, at the age of 44 Styne embarked on an illustrious Broadway career, composing the music for a string of mostly highly successful shows, including Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1949, 'Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend', 'Bye, Bye, Baby'), Two On The Aisle (1951, 'Hold Me-Hold Me-Hold Me', 'If You Hadn't But You Did'), Hazel Flagg (1953, 'Ev'ry Street's A Boulevard (In Old New York)', 'How Do You Speak To An Angel"'), Peter Pan (1954, 'Never Never Land', 'Distant Melody'), Wake Up Darling (1956, a five-performance flop, 'L'il Ol' You And L'il "l' Me'), Bells Are Ringing (1956, 'Just In Time', 'The Party's Over', 'Long Before I Knew You'), Say, Darling (1958, 'Dance Only With Me'), Gypsy (1959, 'Small World', 'Everything's Coming Up Roses', 'Rose's Turn', 'All I Need Is The Girl'), Do Re Mi (1960, 'Make Someone Happy', 'Fireworks'), Subways Are For Sleeping (1961, 'I Just Can't Wait', 'Comes Once In A Lifetime', 'Be A Santa'), Funny Girl (1964, 'The Music That Makes Me Dance', 'Sadie, Sadie', 'People', 'Don't Rain On My Parade'), Fade Out-Fade In (1964, 'You Mustn't Feel Discouraged'), Hallelujah, Baby! (1967, 'My Own Morning', 'Now's The Time'), Darling Of The Day (1968, 'Let's See What Happens', 'That Something Extra Special'), Look To The Lilies (1970, 'I! Yes, Me! That's Who!'), Prettybelle (1971, closed out of town), Sugar (1972, 'It's Always Love', 'We Could Be Close' [revised for London as Some Like It Hot in 1992]), Lorelei (1974, a revised version of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes), Hellzapoppin'! (1976, closed out of town, 'Only One To A Customer'), Bar Mitzvah Boy (London 1978, 'You Wouldn't Be You', 'The Sun Shines Out Of Your Eyes', 'Where The Music Is Coming From'), One Night Stand (1980, closed during previews, 'Too Old To Be So Young', 'Long Way From Home'), Pieces Of Eight (1985, closed during regional try-out in Canada), and The Red Shoes (1993, closed after three days). Styne's chief collaborators for Broadway were Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and he also worked with Leo Robin, E.Y 'Yip' Harburg, Sammy Cahn and Bob Hilliard, among others. His two longest-running (and legendary) shows were written with Bob Merrill (Funny Girl) and Stephen Sondheim (Gypsy). Styne also co-produced several musicals, and composed the scores for television specials, and films such as The West Point Story, Two Tickets To Broadway and My Sister Eileen. One of the most talented, and prolific ('I believe in perspiration - not inspiration') all-round songwriters in the history of American popular music, Styne won many awards and honours, and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Theatre Hall of Fame. Several artists have devoted complete albums to his songs, and in 1995, Everything's Coming Up Roses-The Overtures Of Jule Styne, played by the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jack Everly, was released. ASCAP's memorial tribute to Styne in February of that year included a Stephen Sondheim lyric that ran: 'Jule/You never took things coolly/Your syntax was unduly/Unruly/But Jule/I love you truly.'
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