Burton Lane

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Burton Lane
Birth name Morris Hyman Kushner, later Burton Levy
Born (1912-02-02)February 2, 1912
New York City, New York
Died January 5, 1997(1997-01-05) (aged 84)
New York City, New York
Occupations Lyricist, composer

Burton Lane (February 2, 1912 – January 5, 1997) was an American composer and lyricist. His most popular and successful works include Finian's Rainbow and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.

Biography[edit]

Lane was born Morris Hyman Kushner[1] in New York City and studied classical piano as a child. At age 14 the theatrical producers the Shuberts commissioned him to write songs for a revue, Greenwich Village Follies. At some later time he became known as Burton Levy, and still later as Burton Lane.

He was known for his Broadway musicals, Finian's Rainbow (1947) and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1965). He also wrote the music for the less remembered Broadway shows, Hold On to Your Hats (1940), Laffing Room Only (1944), and Carmelina (1979), the latter with lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, who had also written lyrics to Lane's music for On a Clear Day and the film Royal Wedding (1951). Lane mainly wrote music for films, such as Dancing Lady, Babes on Broadway, writing for more than 30 movies.[2]

He was president of the American Guild of Authors and Composers from 1957 and for the next 10 terms, during which period he campaigned against music piracy. He also served three terms on the board of directors of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).[2]

Lane's best-known songs include "Old Devil Moon," "How Are Things in Glocca Morra?", "Too Late Now," "How About You?", and the title song from "On a Clear Day." He shared a Grammy Award in 1965 for Best Broadway Cast Album of the year (On a Clear Day You Can See Forever).

Finian's Rainbow has had four major revivals (1955, 1960, 1967, and 2009), and was also made into a film starring Fred Astaire and Petula Clark, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, in 1968. In 2004 the Irish Repertory Theatre staged a well-received Off-Broadway production. New York's City Center Encores! series performed a critically acclaimed concert version of the piece in March 2009. Directed and choreographed by Warren Carlyle, it starred Jim Norton and Kate Baldwin as Finian and Sharon, with Cheyenne Jackson as Woody and Jeremy Bobb as Og, the leprechaun. The most recent Broadway revival opened on October 29 at the St. James Theatre with most of the Encores! cast. Newly added to the Broadway cast are Christopher Fitzgerald as Og and Chuck Cooper as Billboard; Jim Norton, Kate Baldwin and Cheyenne Jackson all reprise their roles.

Discovery of Judy Garland[edit]

Lane is credited [2] with discovering the 13-year-old Frances Gumm (Judy Garland).[3] He caught her sisters' act at the Paramount theater in Hollywood which featured a movie and a live stage show. The sisters, Susie and Mary Jane, brought on their younger sister, Frances, who sang "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart". Lane immediately called Jack Robbins, head of the music department at MGM, and told him he'd just heard a great new talent.

Robbins told him to bring her in next day for an audition which Lane did. Robbins was knocked out by the little girl's voice (Lane played the audition piano for her), rushed upstairs and dragged Louis B. Mayer down to listen to her belt out some songs. Mayer was so impressed he ordered every writer, director and producer on the lot to hear her with the result that the audition, which began at 9 am, finished at 7:30 pm. But Frances (Judy) was signed, and that was the start of her great career. Because of circumstance, and contractual arrangements, Burton Lane didn't work with her again for seven years (Babes on Broadway), but it was definitely he who discovered her.[citation needed]

Stage credits[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music. Retrieved 8 December 2013
  2. ^ a b c Lane listing songwritershalloffame.org, retrieved December 8, 2009
  3. ^ Lane biography masterworksbroadway.com, retrieved December 8, 2009

External links[edit]