Abel Meeropol

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"Lewis Allan" redirects here. For other persons of the same name, see Lewis Allen (disambiguation).
Abel Meeropol
Born (1903-02-10)February 10, 1903
New York City, New York. U.S.
Died October 30, 1986(1986-10-30) (aged 83)
Longmeadow, Massachusetts. U.S.
Other names Lewis Allan
Occupation actor, song writer
Years active 1944-86
Known for "Strange Fruit"
"The House I Live In"
Religion Jewish
Spouse(s) Anne Meeropol
Children Robert Meeropol
Michael Meeropol

Abel Meeropol (February 10, 1903 - October 30, 1986) was an American writer, teacher[1] and song-writer, best known under his pseudonym Lewis Allan and as the adoptive father of the young sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.[2]


Meeropol wrote the anti-lynching poem "Strange Fruit" (1937), which was first published in the Marxist publication The New Masses and was subsequently set to music. The song's best known recordings and performances were by Billie Holiday and Josh White.[3] Billie Holiday claimed in Lady Sings the Blues, that she co-wrote the music to the song with Meeropol and Sonny White, but in fact, Meeropol was the sole writer of both the lyrics and melody.

Meeropol was the writer of countless poems and songs, including the Frank Sinatra and Josh White hit "The House I Live In"[4] and the libretto of Robert Kurka's opera The Good Soldier Schweik. Meeropol chose to write as "Lewis Allan" in memory of the names of his two stillborn children. Later, he and his wife Anne adopted Julius and Ethel Rosenberg's two sons, Michael and Robert, after their parents' executions. Michael and Robert took the Meeropol surname.

According to Robert Meeropol, "Strange Fruit", "The House I Live In" and the Peggy Lee hit "Apples, Peaches and Cherries" provided most of the royalty income of the family—the latter especially after it had been translated into French by Sacha Distel (French singer and sometime boyfriend of Brigitte Bardot). The resulting number one hit in France "Scoubidou" still earns Michael and Robert Meeropol royalties; however, these only started coming in after Distel and Abel Meeropol settled a copyright infringement lawsuit over Distel's plagiarism.[5]

Meeropol was born in The Bronx, New York City. He died on October 30, 1986, at the Jewish Nursing Home in Longmeadow, Massachusetts.[2]


  1. ^ Blair, Elizabeth, "The Strange Story Of The Man Behind 'Strange Fruit'", NPR, September 05, 2012.
  2. ^ a b Cook, Joan (October 31, 1986). "Abel Meeropol, 83, A Songwriter, Dies". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-11. Abel Meeropol, a songwriter and composer who adopted the sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, died of pneumonia yesterday at the Jewish Nursing Home in Longmeadow, Mass. He was 83 years old and had lived in South Miami, Fla., before entering the nursing home.... 
  3. ^ Margolick, David, Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday, Café Society, and an Early Cry for Civil Rights (Philadelphia: Running Press, 2000), pp. 16-70.
  4. ^ Moore, Edwin (18 September 2010). "Strange Fruit is still a song for today". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 23 September 2010. 
  5. ^ Meeropol, Robert, An Execution in the Family: One Son's Journey (New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2003), pp. 47-48.

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