Rodgers, Richard (Charles)

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Rodgers, Richard (Charles)

Rodgers, Richard (Charles) , reliable American composer, lyricist, and theatrical producer; b. Hammels Station, N.Y., June 28, 1902; d. N.Y., Dec. 30, 1979. Rodgers was the most successful theatrical composer of the 20th century. Between 1919 and 1979 he was the primary composer for 43 musicals and revues that played on Broadway and in the West End; he wrote 28 of those shows with lyricist Lorenz Hart and nine with Oscar Hammerstein II. With Hart, Rodgers’s work is best remembered for its individual songs, including such standards as “Blue Moon,” “My Funny Valentine,” and “The Lady Is a Tramp.” With Hammerstein, the musicals themselves are better remembered, and they include Oklahoma!, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music, each of which ran for more than a thousand performances in their initial Broadway productions. While consistently inventive and risk-taking, Rodgers adapted his musical approach to his collaborators, creating melodic miniatures to match Hart’s witty words and lush, expansive accompaniments to Ham-merstein’s operettalike librettos and lyrics. Rodgers differed from many of his peers in that he spent relatively little time writing outside the theater. Though he enjoyed many popular hits, he contributed virtually no independent songs to Tin Pin Alley. Nineteen of his musicals were adapted into films (albeit sometimes unrecognizably), and he wrote ten original film scores; but most of his work for the movies was concentrated into a few years in the 1930s. He also wrote occasionally for television. His work brought him Academy, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony awards, and he twice won the Pulitzer Prize. But his greatest achievement was to transform the American musical theatre from a vehicle for bringing light entertainment to New Yorkers, to an art form capable of the most ambitious and serious expression, reaching audiences worldwide.

Rodgers’s father, William Abraham Rodgers, was a medical doctor. After Rodgers began to pick out melodies at the piano at age four, his mother, Mamie Levy Rodgers, gave him his first lessons. Rodgers began to write music at nine. In May 1915 his older brother Mortimer, a student at Columbia Coll., took him to see the college variety show On Your Way. Hammerstein, then a 19-year-old Columbia undergraduate, was in the cast, and the 12-year-old Rodgers met him that night.

Rodgers composed his first song, “Campfire Days,” at age 14 in 1916. Mortimer Rodgers belonged to an athletic group, The Akron Club, which planned a charity revue in 1917. Mortimer suggested his brother as the show’s composer, and Rodgers wrote the songs for One Minute Please, given one performance at the Plaza Hotel on Dec. 29.

Rodgers wrote the songs for a second Akron Club charity revue, Up Stage and Down, given one performance at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on March 8, 1919. He wrote most of the lyrics himself, although three songs had lyrics by Hammerstein. Already embarked on a professional career, Hammerstein was not available as a regular collaborator, however, and Rodgers was introduced to Lorenz Hart by a member of the Akron Club. Hart directed the second and final performance of Up Stage and Down, retitled Twinkling Eyes, at the 44th Street Theatre in May, marking Rodgers’s professional debut.

Rodgers and Hart immediately began to write songs together, and they auditioned some of their material for actor/producer Lew Fields, who chose “Any Old Place with You” for interpolation into his currently running musical, A Lonely Romeo (N.Y., June 10, 1919); it was performed shortly before the show closed, in August 1919, and also became Rodgers’s first song to be professionally published.

Rodgers began to attend Columbia in September 1919, primarily to work on the varsity shows. He wrote a third Akron Club show, You’d Be Surprised, which played a single performance at the Plaza Hotel on March 6, 1920, as well as the 1920 Columbia varsity show Fly with Me, performed four times at the Astor Hotel starting on March 24. Lew Fields, whose son Herbert Fields choreographed the show, attended one of the performances and hired Rodgers and Hart to write the songs for his next musical production, Poor Little Ritz Girl. But after the Boston tryout he threw out half of their score and replaced it with songs by Sigmund Romberg and Alex Gerber; the show had a profitable run of 93 performances.

Though the professional accomplishments of the 18-year-old Rodgers augured well for the future, he and Hart next spent a frustrating five years doing amateur shows. After writing a fourth Akron Club musical, Say Mama (Feb. 10, 1921) and a second Columbia varsity show, You’ll Never Know (April 20, 1921), Rodgers transferred to the Inst. of Musical Art (now Juilliard), where he studied harmony with Percy Goetschius, ear-training with George Wedge, music history with Henry Kreh-biel, and music theory with Franklin W. Robinson. He wrote the institute’s annual shows, Say It with Jazz (June 1, 1921) and Jazz à la Carte (June 2, 1922).

Also in 1922, Rodgers and Hart worked on a musical called Winkle Town, which, though unproduced, is notable for its librettists, Herbert Fields and Oscar Ham-merstein Il, both of whom Rodgers would0 work with again, and for its score, which included several songs that turned up in later shows, among them an early version of “Manhattan.”

After writing a third show, A Danish Yankee in King Tut’s Court (May 31, 1923), at the Inst. of Musical Art, Rodgers left the school in June 1923. In 1924, Rodgers, Hart, and Herbert Fields, using the pseudonym Herbert Richard Lorenz, wrote a play, The Melody Man, which ran for 61 performances on Broadway. But by 1925, Rodgers was ready to give up composing.

After he accepted a job as a salesman of children’s underwear, he and Hart were offered yet another amateur show, writing songs for a benefit for the Theatre Guild, which they accepted reluctantly on the grounds that it was being performed in a Broadway theater and was likely to be seen by the critics. The Garrick Gaieties gave two performances on May 17, 1925; it was so popular that it was repeated several times and finally began a regular run on June 8, eventually racking up 231 performances. Ben Selvin and His Orch., recording under the name “Knickerbockers,” scored a double-sided best-selling record with two songs from the show, “Manhattan” and “Sentimental Me,” in the fall.

The success of The Garrick Gaieties enabled Rodgers and Hart to mount their already-written musical Dearest Enemy. With a book by Herbert Fields, who would be the librettist on most of their shows of the 1920s, it was another hit, running 286 performances and featuring “Here in My Arms,” a hit for Leo Reisman and His Orch. in May 1926.

Five Rodgers and Hart shows opened on Broadway and in the West End in 1926, and four of them were successful. The Girl Friend, their second book musical with Herbert Fields, ran 301 performances and featured the title song, which George Olsen and His Orch. recorded for a hit in August, and “The Blue Room,” a hit for the Revelers in October. The second edition of The Garrick Gaieties ran 174 performances; its hit song was “Mountain Greenery,” recorded by Roger Wolfe Kahn and His Orch. Lido Lady, Rodgers and Hart’s first British musical, ran 259 performances. Peggy-Ann was their third Broadway musical with Herbert Fields, and their most successful yet, running 354 performances and spawning two hits, “Where’s That Rainbow?” for George Olsen and “A Tree in the Park” for Helen Morgan. Their only misstep of the year was agreeing to write songs for producer Florenz Ziegfeld’s flop Betsy, their first setback after six straight hits.

Rodgers and Hart wrote only two shows in 1927, and both were successful. One Dam Thing after Another, a British revue, ran 237 performances. Its most memorable song was “My Heart Stood Still,” which the songwriters interpolated into their Broadway musical A Connecticut Yankee, another collaboration with Herbert Fields. George Olsen had the most popular of several recordings of the song, while Ben Selvin scored a hit with “Thou Swell.” A Connecticut Yankee ran 421 performances, Rodgers and Hart’s biggest hit yet, and their last success on Broadway until 1936.

Several of the shows Rodgers and Hart wrote during this period produced hit songs, however. Present Arms (1928) contained “You Took Advantage of Me,” recorded by Paul Whiteman and His Orch., and “Do I Hear You Saying T Love You’?” recorded by Vaughn Deleath and Irving Kaufman (under the pseudonym Frank Harris). “With a Song in My Heart” from Spring Is Here (1929) became a hit for Leo Reisman. Simple Simon (1930) contained “Ten Cents a Dance,” a hit for Ruth Etting, who sang it onstage. And the London musical Ever Green (1930), the songwriters’ only successful show of the early 1930s, featured “Dancing on the Ceiling,” which took a while to cross the Atlantic but finally became a U.S. hit for British bandleader Jack Hylton in February 1932.

Rodgers married Dorothy Feiner, whom he had known since childhood, on March 5, 1930. They had two daughters, one of whom, Mary Rodgers, became a Broadway composer best known for the 1959 musical Once upon a Mattress.

Rodgers and Hart had their first songs used in a motion picture and made their movie debut in the Paramount short Makers of Melody in 1929. The first motion picture for which they wrote songs was Paramount’s adaptation of B. G. De Sylva, Lew Brown, and Ray Henderson’s musical Follow Thru, released in September 1930. Hollywood also began to option Rodgers and Hart musicals, and movie versions of Spring Is Here, Present Arms (retitled Leathernecking), and Heads Up! (without the exclamation mark) appeared in 1930. In July the songwriters signed a three-picture deal with Warner Bros, and went west to write songs for The Hot Heiress. Before the film was released they returned to N.Y. and to their partnership with Herbert Fields and wrote America’s Sweetheart, a musical that satirized Hollywood. Opening in February 1931, the show had a modest run of 135 performances and featured a minor hit in “I’ve Got Five Dollars,” recorded by Emil Coleman and His Orch. The Hot Heiress, released the following month, was a failure, causing Warner Bros, to buy the songwriters out of their contract.

Rodgers and Hart returned to Hollywood in November 1931 with a one-picture deal at Paramount; ultimately, they wrote songs for three films during the year they spent with the studio. The most successful was Love Me Tonight, a vehicle for Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald released in August 1932. The score produced four hits: the title song for George Olsen; “Mimi” for Chevalier; “Isn’t It Romantic?” for Harold Stern and His Orch.; and “Lover” for Paul Whiteman. The Phantom President, starring George M. Cohan and released in October, was a failure, as was Hallelujah, I’m a Bum, released in February 1933 and starring Al Jolson, who made a minor hit out of the title song.

Rodgers and Hart moved over to MGM in late 1932, where their efforts were largely wasted, at least from the studio’s point of view. Their two major assignments were I Married an Angel, which was not produced at the time, though the songwriters later took the idea and some of the music back to N.Y. with them, and a film initially called Hollywood Revue of 1933 that was released in May 1934 as Hollywood Party with only a few of the many songs they wrote for it.

One of the discards, intended for Jean Harlow, was called “Prayer.” Hart wrote a new lyric and came up with a title song for Manhattan Melodrama. This too was dropped, and a third lyric was added to create “The Bad in Every Man,” which was used in the picture when it was released in May 1934. Hart then wrote a fourth lyric to create “Blue Moon,” one of the few Richard Rodgers melodies ever published independent of a movie or musical and the biggest hit ever written by Rodgers and Hart. The most successful of the first recordings of the song was the one by Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orch. that became a best-seller in January 1935.

Leaving MGM in the spring of 1934, Rodgers and Hart moved back to N.Y. but were unable to secure work and returned to Hollywood, where they wrote the songs for Mississippi, a film starring Bing Crosby at Paramount. Upon the film’s release in April 1935, three of the songs became hits for Crosby, “Down by the River,” “It’s Easy to Remember,” and “Soon,” the latter two becoming best-sellers.

Rodgers and Hart finally found a berth on Broadway, albeit an unorthodox one, in Jumbo, a cross between a musical and a circus that played at the cavernous Hippodrome starting in November 1935. At 221 performances, Jumbo had the second-longest run of any musical of the 1935–36 season, but its enormous production cost made it a financial failure.

The show with the longest run of the season was Rodgers and Hart’s theatrical comeback, On Your Toes, for which they wrote the songs and collaborated on the libretto with codirector George Abbott. It ran 318 performances, and “There’s a Small Hotel” spent ten weeks in the hit parade in a recording by the Hal Kemp Orch., while the score also included “Glad to Be Unhappy” and the ballet “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.”

On Your Toes began a run of eight successful Rodgers and Hart shows between 1936 and 1942, with only one failure. Their next musical, Babes in Arms (1937), was their first for which they alone wrote both the songs and the libretto. It ran 289 performances, and though none of its songs became hits at the time, four have gone on to become standards: “I Wish I Were in Love Again,” “The Lady Is a Tramp,” “My Funny Valentine,” and “Where or When.” Another 289-performance run was enjoyed by the political satire I’d Rather Be Right (1937), in which George M. Cohan portrayed President Franklin Roosevelt. I Married an Angel (1938), rescued from Hollywood, ran 338 performances, and the title song spent seven weeks in the hit parade for the Larry Clinton Orch. The Benny Goodman Orch. took “This Can’t Be Love” from The Boys from Syracuse (1938) into the hit parade for ten weeks; the show ran for 235 performances.

Goodman had seven weeks in the hit parade with “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was” from Too Many Girls (1939), which enjoyed a 249-performance run. Pal Joey ran 374 performances, and though it produced no hits during its initial run (probably due to the radio ban that kept ASCAP compositions off the air during 1941), it contained “Bewitched (Bothered and Bewildered),” which later became one of Rodgers and Hart’s most successful songs. At 427 performances By Jupiter (1942) was the team’s most successful musical. In this case the lack of hits drawn from the score seems due to the recording ban that began two months after the show opened.

Rodgers became more ambitious during the late 1930s and early 1940s. He began to compose occasional instrumental works and studied piano with Herman Wasserman. He coproduced the 1941 musical Best Foot Forward as well as By Jupiter. But as his career expanded, his partner’s contracted. As early as 1938, Lorenz Hart’s alcoholism and erratic behavior began to threaten his work. Due to Hart’s absence, Rodgers was forced to complete the lyrics to Too Many Girls himself; the songwriters failed to produce a show in 1941 because of Hart’s problems; and much of By Jupiter was written in a hospital where Hart was undergoing detoxification. In September 1941, Rodgers contacted Oscar Hammerstein II to inquire whether he would be willing to replace Hart if necessary. After By Jupiter, the Theatre Guild offered Rodgers the chance to write a musical version of the Lynn Riggs play Green Grow the Lilacs; when Hart refused the project, Rodgers turned to Hammerstein.

The result was Oklahoma!, a landmark in the history of the American musical theatre and of popular music for several reasons. If it was not the first musical to closely integrate book, music, and dance, it established such integration as a standard for the musicals that followed, if only because, at a run of 2, 248 performances (five years and nine weeks), it was the longest-running musical in Broadway history up to its time. It also won Rodgers a special Pulitzer Prize.

When Oklahoma! opened, the recording ban was still in place, but several artists recorded a cappella versions of its songs, notably Bing Crosby in a duet with Trudy Erwin and backed by the Sportsman Glee Club, who recorded “People Will Say We’re in Love” and “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’,” both of which became Top Ten hits. When Decca Records settled with the musicians’ union, label president Jack Kapp took the unusual step of recording the Broadway cast for a 78-rpm album. Released in December 1943, it became a Top Ten hit, eventually selling several million copies; drawn from the album, Alfred Drake’s recording of “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top” became a chart single. This success, coupled with the introduction of the 33–1/3-rpm LP in 1949, established the cast album as a popular form.

Rodgers returned to his partnership with Lorenz Hart for a final time, writing several new songs for a revival of A Connecticut Yankee (N.Y., Nov. 17, 1943), but Hart died five days after the show opened.

The long run of Oklahoma! allowed Rodgers and Hammerstein to take their time in preparing their next show. In the meantime they formed their own publishing company, Williamson Music, Inc. (both were the sons of fathers named William), and they began a series of outside productions with the hit play I Remember Mama (N.Y., Oct. 19, 1944).

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s second musical, Carousel, opened in April 1945. With an unusually dark plot and such challenging music as the extended “Soliloquy,” it nevertheless ran 890 performances, and the cast album hit #1. The score also produced three Top Ten hits: “If You Loved Me” by Perry Corno (three other recordings of the song also reached the Top Ten); “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over” by Hildegarde with Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians; and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” for Frank Sinatra.

State Fair, the only movie musical for which Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote an original score, followed in August 1945. It contained two Top Ten hits: “That’s for Me,” recorded by Jo Stafford, and “It Might As Well Be Spring,” by Sammy Kaye, which won the 1945 Academy Award for Best Song. (Dick Haymes, who starred in the film, also recorded Top Ten versions of both songs.)

After producing Irving Berlin’s long-running musical Annie Get Your Gun in 1946, Rodgers and Hammer-stein mounted their third show, Allegro, in 1947. Their first work not to be based on an earlier play, it was also their first failure, though it ran 315 performances and Frank Sinatra scored a Top Ten hit with “So Far.”

Rodgers and Hart were given a successful (if fictionalized) film biography, Words and Music, in late 1948, and the soundtrack album was a #1 hit. A single version of “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue” by Lenny Hayton and the M-G-M Orch. was drawn from the soundtrack and became a minor hit, while Perry Corno, who sang “The Blue Room” in the film, revived it on record, also for a minor hit.

South Pacific (1949), Rodgers and Hammerstein’s fourth musical, became the second longest running show of their career, piling up 1, 925 performances on Broadway. Recipient of the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the show produced a cast album that topped the charts for more than a year and sold several million copies, while three of its songs became hits. Perry Corno topped the charts with “Some Enchanted Evening,” beating out five other Top Ten versions, including one by the show’s star, Ezio Pinza. Corno also had the most successful of several versions of “Bali Ha’i,” another Top Ten hit. And Margaret Whiting had the best-selling version of “A Wonderful Guy.”

Meanwhile, Rodgers and Hart’s catalog continued to produce hits. The Ames Brothers revived “Sentimental Me” and went to #1 with it in June 1950. That same month Bill Snyder and His Orch. peaked in the Top Ten with “Bewitched (Bothered and Bewildered),” the most successful of nine chart recordings of the song. The song’s renewed popularity led Columbia Records to record the score of Pal Joey as an album, and this in turn led to a Broadway revival opening Jan. 3, 1952, that ran 542 performances, making it the longest-running revival in Broadway history up to that time.

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s next musical, The King and I (1951), was the third of their massive hits, running 1, 246 performances and winning the Tony Award for Best Musical. The original cast album reached the Top Ten and stayed in the charts over a year; there was also a studio cast version featuring Dinah Shore that reached the Top Ten, while Frank Sinatra had a minor hit with “We Kiss in a Shadow.”

Peggy Lee and Gordon Jenkins and His Chorus and Orch. revived Rodgers and Hart’s “Lover” in 1952, peaking in the Top Ten in July. That same month Ray Anthony scored a minor hit with a revival of “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.” Rodgers’s major work of the year was to write the musical score to a 13-hour television documentary, Victory at Sea, broadcast as 26 half-hour episodes starting on Oct. 26, prior to which he premiered an excerpt, “Guadalcanal March,” at a Rodgers and Hammerstein concert at Lewisohn Stadium in N.Y. on Aug. 3. A feature-film version of Victory at Sea opened in July 1954. There were also three volumes of soundtrack albums, each of which reached the Top Ten.

Me and Juliet (1953), Rodgers and Hammerstein’s sixth Broadway show, was a backstage musical with an original book by Hammerstein. With a run of 358 performances, it turned a modest profit; its cast album reached the Top Ten, and Perry Corno had a #1 hit with “No Other Love.”

After avoiding film treatments of their frequently revived musicals, Rodgers and Hammerstein saw three adaptations of their shows released within a year. Oklahoma! opened in movie theaters in October 1955 and was one of the biggest box office hits of the year. Its soundtrack album hit #1 and stayed in the charts for more than five years, selling more than two million copies. Carousel, released in February 1956, was a flop at the box office, but its soundtrack album hit the Top Ten and sold a million copies. The King and I, released in June 1956, was among the year’s biggest moneymakers, and the soundtrack album topped the charts, where it remained for more than five years, and sold a million copies.

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s seventh musical, Pipe Dream (1955), was a failure, though it spawned two Top 40 hits, “All at Once You Love Her” for Perry Corno, and “Everybody’s Got a Home but Me” for Eddie Fisher, as well as chart singles for Carmen McRae (“The Next Time It Happens”) and, in 1962, Johnny Mathis (“Sweet Thursday”).

Rodgers and Hammerstein turned to television in March 1957, preparing a new musical version of Cinderella, starring Julie Andrews. The soundtrack album reached the charts, and Vic Damone had a chart single with “Do I Love You (Because You’re Beautiful)?” In November a film adaptation of Pal Joey appeared, starring Frank Sinatra and featuring several Rodgers and Hart standards interpolated into the score. The soundtrack album was a Top Ten hit, and “The Lady Is a Tramp” became a signature song for Sinatra.

South Pacific, the fourth film adaptation of a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, was the biggest box office hit of 1958. The soundtrack album was the best-selling LP of the year, and it stayed in the charts almost five years, reportedly selling eight million copies worldwide. Rodgers and Hammerstein also returned to Broadway in 1958, with Flower Drum Song; its 600 performances made it a solid hit, if not a smash on the scale of some of the team’s other shows. The cast album hit the top of the charts and stayed in them nearly three years, earning a gold record.

The Sound of Music, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s last musical, was the biggest hit of the 1959–60 Broadway season and among the songwriters’ most successful shows, with a run of 1, 443 performances; it tied for the Tony Award for Best Musical. The cast album went to #1, stayed in the charts more than five years, and sold two million copies; it won the 1960 Grammy Award for Best Show Album, Original Cast. The score included several songs that became chart singles, including the title song (for Patti Page), “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” (for Tony Bennett), and “Do-Re-Mi” (for Mitch Miller and His Orch. and Chorus), while “My Favorite Things” became one of Rodgers’s few songs written with Ham-merstein to become popular among jazz musicians, notably John Coltrane, who recorded it and named an album after it. By late 1968, when Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass had a chart single with it, it had become a Christmas standard. Meanwhile, Rodgers and Hart’s songs proved amenable to doo-wop singing: Dion and the Belmonts reached the Top Ten with “Where or When” in 1960, and the Marcels topped the charts with “Blue Moon” in 1961.

Oscar Hammerstein’s death on Aug. 23, 1960, put an end to Rodgers’s second major songwriting partnership; he did not find a third, and initially decided to write his own lyrics. His first project after Hammerstein’s death was writing background music for the documentary television series Winston ChurchillThe Valiant Years, for which he won an Emmy Award.

A movie version of Flower Drum Song was released in November 1961; the soundtrack album spent more than six months in the charts. A second screen version of State Fair, starring Pat Boone and Bobby Darin, was released in April 1962. It contained several new songs written by Rodgers alone; the film was unsuccessful, but the soundtrack album reached the charts. Billy Rose’s Jumbo, starring Doris Day and released in December 1962, was another box office flop with a charting soundtrack; its score was augmented by Rodgers and Hart standards from other shows.

Rodgers’s only musical for which he wrote both music and lyrics was No Strings (1962). It was a success on Broadway, running 580 performances. Its cast album reached the Top Ten and stayed in the charts more than a year; it was the Grammy Award–winner for Best Original Cast Show Album, and “The Sweetest Sounds” earned a nomination for Song of the Year. Nevertheless, Rodgers turned to lyricist Alan Jay Lerner for his next project, a musical tentatively titled I Picked a Daisy. But the partnership did not take, and Lerner went on to do the show with Burton Lane as On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.

Rodgers became president of the Music Theater of Lincoln Center in 1964, and the organization mounted many low-priced revivals of his shows, starting with The King and I on July 6. In 1965 there was a second version of the television musical Cinderella, which unlike the first was on videotape and thus was replayed many times. (A third version, featuring Whitney Houston, was broadcast in 1997.) Rodgers songs continued to enjoy chart revivals during the 1960s, notably including Top 40 recordings of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Patti Labelle and Her Blue Belles (1964) and by the Brooklyn Bridge (1969); “If I Loved You” by Chad and Jeremy (1965); “Some Enchanted Evening” by Jay and the Americans (1965); and “Glad to Be Unhappy” by the Mamas and the Papas (1967).

Rodgers teamed with Stephen Sondheim for his next musical, Do I Hear a Waltz? (1965), which ran 220 performances—not enough to turn a profit, but it produced a charting cast album. March 1965 saw the release of the film version of The Sound of Music starring Julie Andrews. Rodgers wrote music and lyrics for two new songs for the movie, which outdistanced Gone with the Wind to become the biggest box office success in history up to that time. The soundtrack album hit #1 and stayed in the charts more than four years, selling a reported seven million copies worldwide.

Rodgers wrote music and lyrics for the songs for a television musical based on George Bernard Shaw’s Androcles and the Lion in 1967. He left his post at Lincoln Center after the summer revival of Oklahoma! (June 23, 1969; the sixth Broadway revival) and following a heart attack in July. His next new musical was Two by Two (1970), with lyrics by Martin Charnin; it ran 343 performances and turned a profit. Though increasingly incapacitated by ill health, Rodgers continued to work, producing Rex (1976) with Sheldon Harnick and a musical adaptation of I Remember Mama (1979) with Charnin, neither of which was successful. Rodgers died in 1979 at the age of 77.

Rodgers’s works have been revived frequently on Broadway, especially On Your Toes and Pal Joey, among those written with Lorenz Hart, and Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, and The King and I, among those with Oscar Hammerstein II. State Fair was mounted as a stage musical in 1995 and came to Broadway in 1996. That season the most recent revival of The King and I (N.Y., April 11, 1996) won the Tony Award for Best revival.


(only works for which Rodgers was a primary, credited composer are listed): MUSICALS/REVUES/PLAYS (dates refer to N.Y. openings unless otherwise noted): Twinkling Eyes (May 18, 1919); Poor Little Ritz Girl (July 27, 1920); The Melody Man (May 13, 1924); The Garrick Gaieties (May 17, 1925); Dearest Enemy (Sept. 18, 1925); The Girl Friend (March 17, 1926); The Garrick Gaieties (May 10, 1926); Lido Lady (London, Dec. 1, 1926); Peggy-Ann (Dec. 27, 1926); Betsy (Dec. 28, 1926); One Dam Thing after Another (London, May 19, 1927); A Connecticut Yankee (Nov. 3, 1927); She’s My Baby (Jan. 3, 1928); Present Arms (April 26, 1928); Chee-Chee (Sept. 25, 1928); Spring Is Here (March 11, 1929); Heads Up! (Nov. 11, 1929); Simple Simon (Feb. 18, 1930); Ever Green (London, Dec. 3, 1930); America’s Sweetheart (Feb. 10, 1931); Jumbo (Nov. 16, 1935); On Your Toes (April 11, 1936); Babes in Arms (April 14, 1937); I’d Rather Be Right (Nov. 2, 1937); I Married an Angel (May 11, 1938); The Boys from Syracuse (Nov. 23, 1938); Too Many Girls (Oct. 18, 1939); Higher and Higher (April 4, 1940); Pal Joey (Dec. 25, 1940); By Jupiter (June 3, 1942); Oklahoma! (March 31, 1943); Carousel (April 19, 1945); Allegro (Oct. 10, 1947); South Pacific (April 7, 1949); The King and I (March 29, 1951); Me and Juliet (May 28, 1953); Pipe Dream (Nov. 30, 1955); Flower Drum Song (Dec. 1, 1958); The Sound of Music (Nov. 16, 1959); No Strings (March 15, 1962); Do I Hear a Waltz? (March 18, 1965); Two by Two (Nov. 10, 1970); Rodgers and Hart (May 13, 1975); Rex (April 25, 1976); I Remember Mama (May 31, 1979); State Fair (Des Moines, Aug. 12, 1995; N.Y., March 27, 1996). FILMS : Spring Is Here (1930); Heads Up (1930); The Hot Heiress 1931); ove Me Tonight (1932); The Phantom President (1932); Hallelujah, I’m a Bum (1933); Hollywood Party (1934); Mississippi (1935); Dancing Pirate (1936); Fools for Scandal (1938); Bate m Arms (1939); The Boys from Syracuse (1940); Too Many Girls (1940); They Met in Argentina (1941); State Fair (1945); Words and Music (1948); Victory at Sea (1954); Oklahoma! (1955); Carousel (1956); The King and I (1956); Pal Joey (1957); South Pacific (1958); Flower Drum Song (1961); State Fair (1962); Billy Rose’s Jumbo (1962); The Sound of Music (1965). TELEVISION : Victory af Sea (1952–53); Cinderella (March 31, 1957); Winston Churchill—The Valiant Years (Nov. 27, 1960–June 1961); Cinderella (Feb. 22, 1965); Androcles and the Lion (Nov. 15, 1967); Cinderella (Nov. 2, 1997). RADIO : Let’s Have Fun (Oct. 22, 1935). MISCELLANEOUS : All Points West (symphonic narrative with text by Hart; Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Nov. 27, 1936, Philadelphia Orch. under Paul Whiteman, with Ray Middleton); Nursery Ballet (suite for piano; Carnegie Hall, N.Y., Dec. 25, 1938, Paul Whiteman and His Orch.); Ghost Town (ballet; Metropolitan Opera House, N.Y., Nov. 12, 1939, Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo).


Ed., The R. and Hart Song Book (N.Y., 1951); H. Simon, ed., The R. and Hammerstein Song Book (N.Y., 1958; 2nd ed. rev., 1968); Musical Stages: An Autobiography (N.Y., 1975).


D. Taylor, Some Enchanted Evenings: The Story of R. and Hammerstein (N. Y., 1953); D. Ewen, R. R. (N.Y., 1957; 2nd ed. rev., 1963, as With a Song in His Heart); S. Green, The R. and Hammerstein Story (N.Y., 1958); The R. R. Fact Book (NX, 1965; new ed. with supplement, 1968); S. Marx and J. Clayton, R. and Hart (1976); F. Nolan, The Sound of Their Music: The Story of R. and Hammerstein (N.Y., 1978); S. Green, R. and Hammerstein Fact Book (1980); S. Green, The R. and Hammerstein Story (1980); S. Suskin, Berlin, Kern, R., Hart, and Hammerstein: A Complete Song Catalogue (Jefferson, N.C., 1990); E. Mordden, R. and Hammerstein (N.Y., 1992); W. Hyland, R. R. (New Haven, Conn., 1998).

—William Ruhlmann

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Rodgers, Richard (Charles)

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