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Coleman, CY


COLEMAN, CY (1929–2004), U.S. composer, pianist. Born in the Bronx, n.y., Coleman (Seymour Kaufman) was a child prodigy, giving a recital at Steinway Hall at the age of six and Carnegie Hall by nine. At 17 he was playing Manhattan supper clubs. While a student at the New York College of Music in 1948, Coleman turned away from classical music and formed a trio. He began to attract attention with songs recorded by Frank Sinatra, including "Try to Change Me Now," and "Witchcraft" and "The Best Is Yet to Come," the latter two written with Carolyn Leigh. The songs established Cole-man's reputation as a master of the swiveling sexy come-on, a critic for The New York Times wrote. The partnership produced several hits and two Broadway musicals, Wildcat, which starred Lucille Ball, in 1960, and Little Me, a vehicle for Sid *Caesar in 1962.

In 1964 Coleman met Dorothy *Fields, a successful songwriter earlier in her career who was revitalized by working with the much younger Coleman. Their first project became the Broadway smash musical Sweet Charity in 1966 with songs like "Big Spender." They worked on two other shows, an aborted project about Eleanor Roosevelt and Seesaw, which reached Broadway in 1973. Fields died the following year. Coleman continued to write for the stage and produced the scores for the following shows: I Love My Wife, with lyrics by Michael Stewart, in 1977; On the Twentieth Century, with lyrics by Betty *Comden and Adolph *Green, 1978; Barnum, with Michael Stewart, 1980; City of Angels, with lyrics by David Zippel, 1989; Will Rogers Follies, Comden and Green, 1991 (which won a Grammy award); and The Life, with lyrics by Ira Gasman, 1997. Other hits that became standards in the American songbook include "Hey, Look Me Over," "Real Live Girl," "Here's to Us," "Why Try to Change Me Now?", and "The Riviera."

[Stewart Kampel (2nd ed.)]

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