Friday, November 24, 2006


Betty Comden (1917-2006)

What a career. Betty Comden acted, wrote screenplays and, most importantly, was responsible for many memorable tunes with her late writing partner Adolph Green. The team's most lasting contribution to American popular entertainment will most certainly be their brilliant screenplay for Singin' in the Rain, for my money still the best movie musical that Hollywood ever produced.
The Comden and Green team didn't write most of the songs made famous by the film, but they did contribute the lyrics to "Moses Supposes." Comden and Green also wrote the script for one of the other great musicals — the first collaboration between co-directors Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, On the Town, adapted from the Broadway musical they wrote the lyrics and book for, including the classic "New York, New York." They also wrote The Band Wagon starring Fred Astaire, the script for the nonmusical Auntie Mame and the wacky and darkly comic Shirley MacLaine comedy What a Way to Go!

On Broadway, the Comden and Green team wrote the book and the music for On the Twentieth Century, Bells Are Ringing, the lyrics for Leonard Bernstein's Wonderful Town, the lyrics for Cy Coleman's The Will Rogers Follies and the book for Applause, the musical adaptation of All About Eve. Along the way, she won seven Tony Awards.

As an actress, she appeared in the Merchant Ivory botch of Slaves of New York and even did an uncredited turn as Garbo in Garbo Talks. Hell, she even acted on an episode of Frasier.

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"Where has the time all gone to?
Haven't done half the things we want to
Oh well
We'll catch up some other time
This day was just a token
Too many words are still unspoken
Oh well
We'll catch up some other time
Just when the fun is starting
Comes the time for parting
But let's be glad for what we had
And what's to come
There's so much more embracing
Still to be done but time is racing
Oh well
We'll catch up some other time.."

"Some Other Time" from the stage musical On the Town, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
Darn, I feel like crying... it's hard to loose someone who made you laugh!

I'll be listening tonight to my recording of "A Night with Betty Comden and Adolph Green", and cracking up again with "movie ads" (a piece which follows "Madame Curie" from his release in Radio City Music hall to its end as a double programmer in a seedy lowside double programmer)
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