Who's Who in Musicals: Hale-Harris
by John Kenrick
(b. Beatrice Hale-Monro)
Actress, singer, dancer
b. May 22, 1899 (Liverpool, UK) - d. Jan. 10, 1984 (London)
This enchanting blond beauty was one of the West End's top stars in the 1920s and
30s. Daughter of actor Robert Hale and sister of musical comedy star
Sonnie Hale, she starred in more than 25 London musicals.
Her most memorable performances include the title roles in the London
productions of No, No, Nanette (1925) and Sunny (1926),
as well as "Jill" in the long-running Mr. Cinders (1929), where
she introduced "Spread a Little Happiness." Ms. Hale continued to appear
in musicals and pantomimes through the 1950s, co-starring with her brother Sonnie
in One, Two, Three (1947). After appearing as "The Queen of Hearts"
in a version of Alice in Wonderland (1958), she retired from the stage.
(b. John Robert Hale-Monro)
Actor, singer, dancer, director
b. May 1, 1902 (London, UK) - d. June 9, 1959 (London)
Binnie Hale's younger brother made his West End debut in
the chorus of Fun of the Fayre (1921). After his divorce from operetta
star Evelyn Laye, he married musical comedy star
Jessie Matthews, who he co-starred with in six
London productions. Together, the popular duo introduced
Noel Coward's "A Room With a View" in
This Year of Grace (1928) and Richard Rodgers
and Lorenz Hart's "Dancing on the Ceiling" in
Ever Green (1930). Hale directed several productions in the 1940s, and
appeared in and directed a number of British musical films. He continued working in
regional theater until his death at age 58.
b. Aug 10, 1899 (Boston, MA) - d. June 6, 1979 (Los Angeles)
This ingratiating comic toured in vaudeville as part of the song and dance team
Crofts & Haley before making his Broadway debut in Round the Town (1924). He
introduced "Button Up Your Overcoat" in Follow Thru (1929), and sang
"You're an Old Smoothie" with Ethel Merman
in Take a Chance (1932). Haley's displayed his knack for playing wide-eyed,
innocent victims in a series of 20th Century Fox screen musicals, including
Poor Little Rich Girl (1936) with Shirley Temple. When an allergic reaction
to metallic make-up forced Buddy Ebsen out of The Wizard of Oz (1939), MGM
brought in Haley to play the Tin Woodman the most memorable role of his career.
He introduced "If I Only Had a Heart," and shared "We're Off to See the
Wizard" with fellow vaudeville veterans Judy Garland,
Ray Bolger and Bert Lahr.
He starred in both the stage (1940) and screen (1943) versions of
Richard Rodgers and
Lorenz Hart's Higher and Higher, and joined
Bea Lillie in the raucous Broadway revue
Inside USA (1948). Although Haley eased out of performing in his later
years, annual television broadcasts of The Wizard of Oz made him a favorite with
generations that never saw him on stage. His son Jack Jr. revitalized MGM's
musical legacy by creating That's Entertainment, and was married for several
years to Judy Garland's daughter Liza Minnelli.
Haley Sr. remained active in his 70's, making a brief cameo with Minnelli in New York,
New York (1977). After a brief illness, he died of a heart attack at age
b. Nov. 6, 1901 (Keysport, NJ) - d. Feb. 28, 1968 (Bay Shore, NY)
This charismatic, rotund African American actress studied at Juilliard
before reaching Broadway in a revival of the play Sailor Beware! (1935). She
appeared in the ensembles of Sing Out Sweet Land
(1944) and the 1946 revival of Show Boat. Small roles in St. Louis Woman
and Street Scene led to her being cast as the original Bloody Mary in
Richard Rodgers and Oscar
Pacific (1949), where she stopped the show with "Bali Hai"
and "Happy Talk." When this noted blues and folk singer repeated
her role in the film version, Hollywood inexplicably insisted on having another
singer dub her vocals. Hall was featured as whorehouse Madam Tango in
House of Flowers (1954) and as the righteous Chinese-American mother Madame
Liang in Rodgers & Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song (1958). After appearing
in the 1961 film version of Flower Drum Song, Hall retired from public life.
Seven years later, she died due to complications from diabetes at age 66.
b. June 2, 1944 (New York City)
A gifted child prodigy, Hamlisch was only seven when he became the
youngest student ever enrolled at the esteemed Julliard School. He
wrote numerous pop songs, and became one Hollywood's top
composer-arrangers, winning national fame when his work on
The Way We Were and The Sting brought him three
Oscars in 1974. The following year, Hamlisch worked on his first
stage musical, collaborating with lyricist Ed Kleban and director
Michael Bennett on A Chorus Line.
This landmark hit brought Hamlisch the Tony for Best Score and the Pulitzer
Prize for Drama.
Carol Bayer Sager provided the lyrics for They're Playing Our
Song (1979), which became a long-running smash in both New York
and London. Hamlisch had less luck with the London production of
Jean Seaberg (1983) and the Broadway musical Smile
(1986). While contributing the scores for numerous films during the
late 1980s and 1990s, he collaborated with David Zippel
on The Goodbye Girl (1993) and with Craig Carnelia on
Sweet Smell of Success (2001) both of which had brief
runs in New York. Hamlisch is one of only two composers who have been awarded
Emmys, Grammys, Oscars, a Tony and a Pulitzer Prize -- the other is
Hammerstein, Oscar, II
Lyricist, librettist, producer, director
b. July 12, 1895 (New York City) - d. Aug. 23, 1960 (Doylestown, Pa.)
Grandson of opera and vaudeville impresario Oscar Hammerstein I, young Oscar studied
law to please his parents while preparing for a theatrical career. While at
Columbia University, he wrote several varsity musicals, working briefly with
underclassmen Lorenz Hart and
Richard Rodgers. In the 1920s, Hammerstein
worked as co-lyricist/librettist with Otto Harbach
on a series of shows, including
Vincent Youmans and Herbert Stothart's Wildflower (1923),
Rudolph Friml's Rose Marie (1924),
Jerome Kern's Sunny (1925) and
The Desert Song (1926). Hammerstein was sole lyricist, librettist and
director for Kern's landmark Show Boat
(1927) and Romberg's The New Moon (1928). After scoring a
hit with Kern's charming operetta Music in the Air (1932), Hammerstein
faced a long spell of failures on both stage and screen.
Then Richard Rodgers, frustrated by Hart's increasing unreliability,
offered Hammerstein a new project, initiating one of the most profitable
partnerships in theatrical history. Beginning with Oklahoma! (1943),
Hammerstein and Rodgers made the integrated musical play into the
world's most popular form of commercial theater. They used songs as dramatic
tools, enhancing the action and character development as never before.
Carousel (1945), South Pacific (1949), The King and I
(1951) and The Sound of Music (1959) remain among the finest and
most beloved musicals ever written. The team also composed
State Fair (1945) for film and Cinderella (1957) for television.
(After their deaths, both of these works were adapted for stage performance.)
Hammerstein completed Sound of Music just months before stomach cancer ended
his life at age 65.
At their best, Hammerstein's lyrics
were painstakingly crafted, speaking in plain and simple terms that seemed to come
straight from the heart. "Ol' Man River," "Oh, What a Beautiful
Morning," "Some Enchanted Evening," "Hello Young Lovers" and
"Climb Every Mountain" remain standards. Hammerstein's musicals are still
revived successfully, and new stage works based on his writings (State
Fair, Grand Night For Singing) continued to appear decades after his death.
Dancer, actress, choreographer
b. Dec. 24, 1924 (New Bedford, MA) - May 10, 1964 (New York City)
Getting her start as student and assistant to choreographer Jack Cole, this
elfish performer made brief appearances in several films and
served as off-screen assistant to Gene
Kelly. The highlight of her MGM career was a brief but sizzling dance
duet with Bob Fosse in the screen version of
Kiss Me Kate (1953). When Fosse choreographed the
Broadway musical The Pajama Game (1954), he selected Haney to play the
dance-heavy role of Gladys. Her electrifying renditions of "Hernando's
Hideaway" and the show-stopping "Steam Heat" brought
Haney immediate fame and a Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical.
Haney married musical comedy star Larry Blyden
in 1955. While filming the big-screen version of The Pajama Game in 1956,
Haney suffered from severe exhaustion. Surprised to learn that she was diabetic,
she decided to withdraw from performing and become a choreographer. Her exciting
dances won acclaim in five Broadway musicals Flower Drum Song (1958),
Bravo Giovanni (1962), the charming She Loves Me (1963),
Jennie (1963) and the long-running Funny Girl (1964). Haney's
later years were plagued by heavy drinking, divorce and a series of
health problems. Soon after Funny Girl's triumphant opening,
Haney died of bronchial pneumonia at age 39, with ex-husband
Blyden at her side.
(b. Otto Hauerbach)
b. Aug. 18, 1873 (Salt Lake City, UT) - d. Jan. 24. 1963 (New York City)
A former columnist and advertising copywriter, Harbach wrote his first
lyrics for composer Karl Hoschna's The Three Twins ("Cuddle Up a Little
Closer, Lovey Mine") and Madame Sherry ("Ev'ry Little Movement")
in the early 1900s. Harbach eventually worked on more than forty Broadway scores,
collaborating with many of the best composers in the business, including
Jerome Kern (Sunny, Roberta),
Rudolph Friml (Rose Marie)
Sigmund Romberg (The Desert Song),
Vincent Youmans (No, No Nannette) and
George Gershwin (Song of the Flame).
Harbach shared book and lyric writing duties with
Oscar Hammerstein II on ten shows, and was often
credited as Hammerstein's creative mentor.
The versatile Harbach was equally adept at operetta and sophisticated musical comedy,
a rare quality. Perhaps his most timeless solo lyric was for the Jerome Kern
classic "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes."
Harburg, E.Y. "Yip"
(b. Isidore Hochburgh)
b. April 8, 1896 (New York, NY) - Mar. 5, 1981 (Los Angeles, CA)
With a gift for nimble rhymes and expressing sentiments with a witty twist, Harburg
contributed some of the most refreshing and original lyrics of the musical's golden
age on both stage and screen. He got the nickname "Yipsel" (Yiddish for
"squirrel") during his boyhood on Manhattan's Lower East Side,
where his Russian-Jewish immigrant parents toiled in sweatshops. When the
Great Depression ruined his electrical supply business, Harburg began working with
Vernon Duke and other composers, contributing songs to
Earl Carroll's Broadway revues and the Shubert-produced
Ziegfeld Follies (1934).
With composer Harold Arlen, he contributed
songs to Life Begins at 8:40 (1934) and
Hooray For What! (1937). The team turned out scores for several Hollywood
musicals, including The Singing Kid (1936) and Gold Diggers of 1937.
Their most memorable collaboration was the classic score for MGM's
The Wizard of Oz (1939), including the Academy Award winning
Judy Garland "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."
Harburg worked with Jerome Kern on the score for
Deanna Durbin's Can't Help Singing (1944).
Harburg and Arlen returned to Broadway with the popular Civil War musical
Bloomer Girl (1946). By this time, Harburg was also collaborating with
composer Burton Lane on the satirical
hit Finian's Rainbow (1947), which included "Old Devil Moon" and
"Look to the Rainbow." Harburg took political
satire to new levels with Flahooley (1951), a daring failure with
music by Sammy Fain. He and Arlen were on safer ground with
the score for Lena Horne's popular Jamaica (1957), and he wrote new lyrics
to the melodies of Jacques Offenbach for the
short-lived Happiest Girl in the World (1961). The following year, Harburg
collaborated once again with Arlen for the animated charmer Gay Pur-ee (1962),
featuring the singing voice of Judy Garland. Harburg's last Broadway lyrics were heard
in the vastly underrated Darling of the Day (1967), with music by
Jule Styne. He was killed in an auto accident
on Sunset Boulevard at age 84.
b. Dec. 27, 1924 (Chicago, Ill)
Harnick got his start writing "Boston Beguine" with composer
David Baker for New Faces of 1952. Harnick and composer
Jerry Bock followed the unsuccessful boxing musical The Body Beautiful
(1958) with a series of shows that captured the sound and spirit
of lost times and places. Fiorello (1959) won a Pulitzer Prize and
Tony for Best Musical with the story of New York mayor LaGuardia's early
political career. Tenderloin (1960) recalled the barrooms, bordellos
and police corruption of 1890s Manhattan, while She Loves Me
(1963) told of shopkeepers falling in love in 1930s Budapest. Bock and
Harnick achieved phenomenal success with Fiddler on the Roof
(1964), the story of a dairyman's family struggling to survive in a Jewish
shtetle in Tsarist Russia. With a score featuring "Matchmaker,
Matchmaker," "If I Were a Rich Man" and "Sunrise,
Sunset," Fiddler won Tonys for Best Musical and Best Score,
and set a new long-run record for Broadway musicals.
Bock and Harnick succeeded with The Apple Tree (1966), an
unconventional set of three one-act musical allegories. Their
collaboration ended with The Rothschilds (1970), a moving look at
the rise of the powerful European banking family. Harnick later worked with
Richard Rodgers on the score
to Rex (1976), and provided the deft (but critically underestimated)
Broadway translation for the Dutch musical Cyrano (1993). His version
The Merry Widow, done for the Beverly Sills production,
is arguably the best English translation of this classic operetta.
Harrigan, Edward (Ned)
Actor, singer, librettist, lyricist, producer
b. Oct. 26, 1844 (New York City) - d. June 6, 1911 (New York City)
Beginning as a comedian in touring variety shows, Harrigan eventually teamed with
Tony Hart a young comic with a flair for
female impersonation. After their "Mulligan Guards" sketch made them variety
stars, the team developed a series of songs and sketches featuring lower class
characters drawn from the streets of New York. In time, these sketches evolved into
seventeen full length farcical musical comedies
that delighted Broadway audiences from 1878 to 1885.
Harrigan ultimately wrote the the book and lyrics for more than twenty five
Broadway musicals, including The Mulligan Guards' Ball (1879) and
Cordelia's Aspirations (1883), all with melodies composed by father in law
David Braham. Harrigan's nepotistic habit of hiring relatives eventually drove Hart
to discontinue the partnership. Harrigan continued writing and performing until 1893.
Heart disease led to his death at age 65. Beloved by his theatrical colleagues,
he was the inspiration for George M. Cohan's hit song
"Harrigan" ("H, A, Double-R, I, G-A-N spells Harrigan!")
b. 1937 (Evanston, Ill.)
Wacky charm and a gift for eccentric characterization made Harris a Broadway favorite
in the 1960s. She made her New York debut in the revue From the Second City
(1961), earning a Tony nomination. She appeared in a production of Mother
Courage (1963) and starred in the big screen adaptation of A Thousand
Clowns (1965). Harris originated the role of clairvoyant "Daisy Gamble" in
On A Clear Day You Can See Forever (1965), and won a Tony for Best
Actress in a Musical playing three roles in The Apple Tree (1966).
She directed the short-lived Broadway comedy The Penny Wars (1969), and appeared
in an ill-fated production of Weill's Mahagonny (1970). Harris appeared in
numerous films, including Plaza Suite (1971), Nashville (1975),
Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Producer, theater owner
b. Feb. 3, 1872 (New York City) - d. July 3, 1941 (NYC)
A former newsboy, cough drop salesman and boxing manager, Harris was the longtime
producing partner of the mercurial George M.
Cohan, providing that creative genius
with solid business-minded support. From Little Johnny Jones (1904) to
The Royal Vagabond (1919), they produced eighteen Broadway musicals
fifteen of which were authored by Cohan.
Considered one of the great gentlemen of the theater, Harris was famous for
his fairness (and outright kindness) to actors, writers and others normally
treated as commodities in a harsh business. After the actor's strike of 1919
led an embittered Cohan to leave the firm, Harris produced some of the most
distinguished stage comedies and musicals of the next two decades, including
Irving Berlin's Music Box Revues
(1921-1924), the Marx Brothers in Animal Crackers (1928), the
Gershwins' Pulitzer Prize winning
satire Of Thee I Sing (1931), Cole Porter
and Moss Hart's Jubilee (1935) and
Richard Rodgers & Lorenz
Hart's I'd Rather Be Right (1937)
in which Cohan starred as President Franklin Roosevelt.
Harris also produced the
memorable hits Rain, Dinner at Eight, Stage Door, You
Can't Take It With You, and The Man Who Came to Dinner. He never
lost his gambler's instinct, and was always ready to take a chance on new,
promising talent. Harris died
of stomach cancer shortly after the opening of his last hit, the innovative
Ira Gershwin musical
Lady In the Dark (1941). He had more than 130 Broadway shows to his
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