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On This Day in History, May 1: She Wrote the Words for Bernstein

Betty Comden was born in Brooklyn on May 3, 1919. Her father was a New York attorney and her mother was a school teacher. She attended Erasmus Hall High School.
 
While attending New York University she met fellow student Adolph Green. They both were members of the Washington Square Players. In the ’30s, they were part of a nightclub act, the Revuers, an act that also included young Judy Tuvim, whose last name became Holliday. When Comden and Green wrote the smash Broadway hit Bells Are Ringing (1956) they persuaded Judy Holliday to star.
 
Comden and Green’s first Broadway hit was On the Town (1944). Besides writing the book (music was composed by Leonard Bernstein), Comden played the role of Claire de Loon and Green was Ozzie.
 
Morton Gould was the next composer the pair worked with when they wrote Billion Dollar Baby (1945). With Leonard Bernstein again supplying the music they wrote Wonderful Town (1953). The show ran for over 500 performances. They worked with composer Jule Styne on Peter Pan (1954). For Comden and Green it was hit after hit: Say Darling (1958), Do Re Mi (1960), Subways Are for Sleeping (1961), Fade Out-Fade In (1964), Hallelujah, Baby! (1967), Applause (1970), Lorelei (1974), book and lyrics for On The Twentieth Century (1978).
 
Their movie credits include Good News (1947), On The Town (1949), Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949), Singin’ in the Rain (1952) and Auntie Mame (1958).
 
Adolph Green died at age 87 on October 23, 2002, and Betty Comden passed away three years later on Nov. 23, 2006.
 
— Compiled by V. Parker
May 1, 2012 - 9:54am


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