- For individuals with the same name, see James Jacobs
October 7, 1942
|Occupation||Composer, Librettist, Lyricist, Actor|
|Partner(s)||Diane Rita Gomez (1965-1974)
Denise Nettleton (1978-)
Jim Jacobs (born October 7, 1942) is an American composer, lyricist, and writer for the theatre. He is known for writing the book, lyrics and music, with Warren Casey, for the stage and film musical Grease.
Jacobs was born on October 7, 1942 in Chicago, Illinois to Harold, a factory foreman, and Norma (Mathison) Jacobs. Jacobs attended Taft High School, during which time he played guitar and sang with a band called DDT & the Dynamiters. When he was 11, his idol was Bill Haley, but when he was fourteen it was Elvis Presley. He also cites Buddy Holly, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee Lewis as influences.
When he was a teenager, he would imitate playing a guitar with a broomstick. He eventually convinced his parents to pay for guitar lessons. After four lessons, he quit and decided to buy a guitar book and teach himself. From this, his found a simple chord structure: C, A minor, F, G7—this would later be Those Magic Changes featured in Grease.
In 1963, he became involved with a local theatre group that included Warren Casey, The Chicago Playwrights Center (at that time it was called Hull House Playwrights Center)run by artistic director Robert Sickinger.
For the next five years he appeared in more than fifty theatrical productions in the Chicago area, working with such people as The Second City founder Paul Sills, while earning a living as an advertising copywriter. He also landed a small role in the 1969 film Medium Cool.
At the same time, he and Casey were collaborating on a play about high school life during the golden age of rock 'n' roll in the 1950s. Entitled Grease, it premiered in 1971 at the Kingston Mines Theater in the Old Town section of Chicago. Jacobs remembered, in this interview: "When we went to New York... we were told it was necessary to make the characters lovable, instead of scaring everybody. The show went from about three-quarters book and one-quarter music to one-quarter book and three-quarters music."
Producers Ken Waissman and Maxine Fox saw the show and suggested to the playwrights that it might work better as a musical, and told them if the creative partners were willing to rework it and they liked the end result, they would produce it off-Broadway. The team headed to New York City to collaborate on what would become Grease, which opened at the Eden Theatre in downtown Manhattan. The Best Plays of 1971-72 notes that "Though Grease opened geographically off Broadway, it did so under first class Broadway contracts." The show was deemed eligible for the 1972 Tony Awards, receiving seven Tony Award nominations. In June 1972 the production moved to the Broadhurst Theatre in the heart of Manhattan's Broadway Theater District. Six months later it moved to the Royale Theatre where it played until January 1980. For fine final weeks of the run the show moved to the much larger Majestic Theatre (Broadway). Casey earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Book of a Musical. The show went on to become a West End hit and a hugely successful film.
He would also write a two act musical Island of Lost Coeds with Warren Casey, a spoof on 1940s and 1950s B movies: a captain and crew crash on a deserted island inhabited by beautiful women with ratted hair, tiger-skin swimsuits and rubber spears. In 1980, he appeared in the film Love in a Taxi, directed by Robert Sickinger.
- 1969 - Joseph Jefferson Award nomination for best actor in Jimmy Shine
- 1972 - Tony Award nomination for best book of a musical Grease
- 1972 - Grammy Award nomination for best score from an original cast show album Grease
- 1973 - Cue Magazine Award
- 1979 - ASCAP award for longest-running show in Broadway history
- Biography greasethemusical.co.uk, retrieved January 26, 2010
- Biography filmreference.com, retrieved January 26, 2010
- Jones, Chris."Bring back our own, original R-rated 'Grease' "Chicago Tribune, January 08, 2009
- Bloom, Ken. Broadway Musicals: The 101 Greatest Shows of All Time (2008). Black Dog Publishing. ISBN 1-579aajfhjfjufehfefbufv uf12-313-9, pp.135-136
- Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research. 2004. ISBN 978-0-7876-3995-2.
- "Grease: You're the One That I Want" listing imdb.com, retrieved January 26, 2010
- Jim Jacobs at the Internet Broadway Database
- 'Grease' background at imagi-nation.com
- Internet Movie Database listing
- Jacobs listing at doollee.com