Paul Francis Webster

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For other people of the same name, see Paul Webster.
Paul Francis Webster
Birth name Paul Francis Webster
Born (1907-12-20)December 20, 1907
Origin New York City, United States
Died March 18, 1984(1984-03-18) (aged 76)
Beverly Hills, California, United States
Occupation(s) Lyricist

Paul Francis Webster (December 20, 1907 – March 18, 1984) was an American lyricist who won three Academy Awards for Best Song and was nominated sixteen times for the award.


He was born in New York City, the son of Myron Lawrence Webster and Blanche Pauline Stonehill Webster. He attended the Horace Mann School (Riverdale, Bronx, New York), graduating in 1926, and then went to Cornell University from 1927 to 1928 and New York University from 1928 to 1930, leaving without receiving a degree. He served in the United States Navy and then became a dance instructor at a studio in New York City.[1] By 1931, however, he turned his career direction to writing song lyrics. His first professional lyric was Masquerade (music by John Jacob Loeb) which became a hit in 1932, performed by Paul Whiteman.

In 1935 Twentieth Century Fox signed him to a contract to write lyrics for Shirley Temple's films, but shortly afterward he went back to freelance writing. His first hit was a collaboration in 1941 with Duke Ellington on the song "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)".

After 1950, Webster worked mostly for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He won two Academy Awards in collaboration with Sammy Fain, in 1953 and 1955, and another with Johnny Mandel in 1965. Altogether, sixteen of his songs received Academy Award nominations; among lyricists, he is second only to Johnny Mercer, who was nominated eighteen times, in number of nominations. In addition, a large number of his songs became major hits on the popular music charts.

He is the most successful songwriter of the 1950s on the U.K. charts. In 1967 he was asked to write the famed lyrics for the Spider-Man (theme song) of the television cartoon. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972.[2]

He died in Beverly Hills, California and is buried at Hillside Memorial Park in Culver City, California.

List of songs[edit]

Songs by Paul Francis Webster that won the Academy Award for Best Original Song[edit]

Nominated for the award[edit]

  • "Remember Me to Carolina" (1944)
  • "Friendly Persuasion (Thee I Love)" (1956)
  • "April Love" (1957)
  • "A Certain Smile" (1958)
  • "A Very Precious Love" (1958)
  • "The Green Leaves of Summer" (1960)
  • "Love Theme From El Cid (The Falcon and the Dove)" (1961)
  • "Tender Is the Night" (1962)
  • "Love Song From Mutiny on the Bounty (Follow Me)" (1962)
  • "So Little Time" (1963)
  • "A Time for Love" (1966)
  • "Strange Are The Ways of Love" (1972)
  • "A World that Never Was" (1976)

Songs winning Grammy Awards for best song of the year[edit]

  • "The Shadow of Your Smile" (love theme from The Sandpiper, 1966)

Other songs with lyrics by Paul Francis Webster[edit]

  • "Anastasia" (1956)
  • "Ballad Of The Alamo " 1960)
  • "April Love" (1957)
  • "Baltimore Oriole"
  • "Beloved" (1954)
  • "Billy-A-Dick" (1945)
  • "Black Coffee"
  • "Black Hills Of Dakota"
  • "Blowing Wild (The Ballad Of Black Gold)"
  • "Boy On A Dolphin"
  • "A Certain Smile" (1958)
  • "The Deadwood Stage"
  • "Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief"
  • "The First Snowfall"
  • "Friendly Persuasion (Thee I Love)" (1956)
  • "Guns of Navarone" (1961)
  • "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)" (1941)
  • "I'll Remember Tonight"
  • "I'll Walk With God" (1954)
  • "Invitation" (1952)
  • "How Green Was My Valley" (1957)
  • "How It Lies, How It Lies, How It Lies!"
  • "Jump for Joy"
  • "The Lamplighter's Serenade" (1942)
  • "Like Young" (1958)
  • "The Loveliest Night Of The Year" (1950)
  • "Man On Fire"
  • "Masquerade" (1931)
  • "Maverick"
  • "The Mood I'm In" (co-written with Pete King)
  • "My Moonlight Madonna"
  • "Padre"
  • "Rainbow On The River" (1936)
  • "Rio Bravo" (1959)
  • "Somewhere My Love" (1966) (The lyrics, which are Webster's original work, are sung to the melody of "Lara's Theme" from the film Doctor Zhivago) (needs citation)
  • "Summertime in Heidelburg" (1954)
  • "The Song Angels Sing" 1951
  • "The Song Of Raintree County" (1957)
  • "Spider-Man" (1967)
  • There's a Rising Moon (1954)
  • There They Are
  • "There's Never Been Anyone Else But You"
  • "Too Beautiful To Last" (1971)
  • "The Twelfth Of Never"
  • "Two Cigarettes In The Dark" (1934)
  • "Veni Vidi Vici"
  • "A Very Precious Love" (1958)
  • "Who Are We?"
  • "The Winds Of Chance" (1969)
  • "You Was"

Song compilation[edit]

  • 'The Songs of Paul Francis Webster (ISBN 0-7935-0665-4)
  • Award-Winning Songs By Paul Francis Webster, Robbins Music Corporation, 1964


  • Hill, Tony L. "Paul Francis Webster, 1907-1984", in Dictionary of Literary Biography 265. Detroit: Gale Research, 2002.