Bob Merrill

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Bob Merrill (born Henry Robert Merrill Levan, May 17, 1921 – February 17, 1998)[1] was an American songwriter, theatrical composer, lyricist, and screenwriter.[2] He was the second most successful songwriter of the 1950s on the UK Singles Chart.[3]

Life and career[edit]

Merrill was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey,[1] in a Jewish family and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Following a stint with the Army during World War II, he moved to Hollywood, where he worked as a dialogue director for Columbia Pictures. He began his songwriting career writing tunes for Dorothy Shay. One of his first major hits was a country song co-written by Moon Mullican in 1950 entitled "You Don't Have to Be a Baby to Cry", and the 1950 novelty song "If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd've Baked a Cake", co-written with Al Hoffman and Clem Watts, and initially recorded by Eileen Barton.[1]

The other eight songs which round out the Top Ten for which he is best-known include

Guy Mitchell recorded many of Merrill's songs including "Sparrow in the Tree Top", "She Wears Red Feathers", and "My Truly, Truly Fair".

Merrill made his Broadway debut in 1957 with New Girl in Town, a musical adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's Anna Christie.[4]

His greatest theatrical success was the Barbra Streisand musical Funny Girl, (1964) which introduced the standard "People" and "Don't Rain on My Parade".[5] When the stage show was adapted for film, he and songwriting partner Jule Styne were asked to write a title tune, which garnered them both 1968 Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Song. [6][7]

Producer David Merrick employed Merrill to write additional songs for the musical Hello, Dolly. Merrill contributed two songs, "Motherhood March" and "Elegance", and some additional lyrics to Jerry Herman's "It Takes a Woman". Merrill did not accept billing or credit for his additions to the score. He is also the lyricist of the theme song "Loss Of Love",[8] excerpt from the 1970 Italian drama film Sunflower and composed by Henry Mancini.

Merrill's other Broadway credits include Take Me Along (1959), Carnival! (1961), Breakfast at Tiffany's (1966), Henry, Sweet Henry (1967), Sugar (1972) (reworked as Some Like It Hot for a 1992 production in London's West End starring Tommy Steele and a 2002-03 United States national tour starring Tony Curtis as Osgood Fielding, Jr.), and The Red Shoes (1993).[9]

He wrote the book and lyrics for the musical Prettybelle (1971), which closed in Boston during tryouts. Angela Lansbury starred, with direction by Gower Champion.[10] He wrote the music and lyrics for the musical The Prince of Grand Street (1978), which closed during its Boston tryouts. The musical starred Robert Preston and was directed by Gene Saks. Because of reviews during the Philadelphia tryout, an entire new first act was written for Boston.[11]

He was nominated for the Tony Award eight times, but never won. However, in 1961 he won the New York Drama Critics Award for his work on Carnival!.[1][12]

Merrill's screenwriting credits include Mahogany (1975), W.C. Fields and Me (1976), and the television movies Portrait of a Showgirl (1982) and The Animated Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1998).

Among Merrill's television credits were two holiday specials, Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol and The Dangerous Christmas of Red Riding Hood, written specifically for Liza Minnelli.

Merrill became progressively ill in the mid-1990s. On February 17, 1998 he was found dead in his car in Culver City, California.[1] His wife, Suzanne, said he had taken his own life with a pistol after suffering prolonged depression linked to various ailments, none of them life-threatening. "He didn’t want to be in a wheelchair," she said. "He wanted to be the master of his own fate."[13]

Stage shows[edit]

Merrill compositions recorded by Guy Mitchell[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Ankeny, Jason. "Bob Merrill - Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  2. ^ "The official site of American songwriter and Broadway composer". Bob Merrill. 1998-02-17. Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  3. ^ "Full US Top 100 50 Years Ago". Dave McAleer. 1962-01-27. Archived from the original on 2012-04-03. Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  4. ^ " 'New Girl in Town' Broadway" Playbill, retrieved October 10, 2017
  5. ^ ' 'Funny Girl' Broadway" Playbill, retrieved October 10, 2017
  6. ^ "The 41st Academy Awards | 1969". | Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Retrieved October 23, 2014. 
  7. ^ " 'Funny Girl' Film Awards", retrieved October 10, 2017
  8. ^ Loss Of Love
  9. ^ "Bob Merrill Broadway" Playbill, retrieved october 10, 2017
  10. ^ " 'Prettybelle' Closing After Boston Tryout" The New York Times, March 3, 1971
  11. ^ " 'Grand Street' Will Close in Boston" The New York Times, April 11, 1978
  12. ^ ' 'Carnival!' Broadway" Playbill, retrieved october 10, 2017
  13. ^ Times. "Prolific Songwriter Bob Merrill Dies At 74 "Funny Girl" Among His Many Popular Broadway Musicals - - Feb. 19, 1998". Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  14. ^ Wilson, John S. "Musical: 'We're Home,' With Songs by Merrill" The New York Times, October 28, 1984
  15. ^ [Gussow, Mel. "Review/Theater; A Jew Confronts a Nazi In a Prewar Musical" The New York Times, June 2, 1990

External links[edit]