Richard A. Whiting

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Richard A. Whiting
Birth name Richard Armstrong Whiting
Born (1891-11-12)November 12, 1891
Peoria, Illinois
Died February 10, 1938(1938-02-10) (aged 46)
Beverly Hills, California
Occupations composer, songwriter
Years active 1910-1938
Associated acts Raymond B. Egan
Gus Kahn
Leo Robin
Oscar Hammerstein II
Johnny Mercer

Richard Armstrong Whiting (November 12, 1891 - February 10, 1938) was an American composer of popular songs including the standards "Hooray for Hollywood", "Ain't We Got Fun?" and "On the Good Ship Lollipop". He was nominated for an Academy Award for best original song in 1936 for the song "When Did You Leave Heaven" from the movie Sing, Baby Sing.


He was born in Peoria, Illinois, and grew up in Detroit, Michigan. He attended the Harvard Military School in Los Angeles. Upon his graduation, Whiting began his career as a staff writer for various music publishers. In 1912, he became a personal manager.

In 1919, he moved to Hollywood and wrote a number of film scores. He collaborated with BG DeSylva, Ray Egan, Johnny Mercer, Neil Moret, Leo Robin, Ralph Rainger, Gus Kahn, Oscar Hammerstein II, Haven Gillespie, Seymour Simons, Nacio Herb Brown, Harry Akst, Walter Donaldson, and Sidney Clare, to produce a number of hits (listed below). He also wrote a number of scores for Broadway plays.

A tribute to Whiting's music along with a medley of his best-known songs formed part of the 1980 Broadway musical A Day in Hollywood / A Night in the Ukraine.

He was the father of singer/actress Margaret Whiting and actress Barbara Whiting Smith, and the grandson of Rep. Richard H. Whiting.

In 1938, he died from a heart attack at the age of 46, at the height of his career. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970.

Film scores[edit]

Broadway show scores[edit]

  • Toot Sweet
  • George White's Scandals of 1919
  • Take a Chance which featured two major hits with music by Whiting "You're an Old Smoothie," and "Eadie Was a Lady"

Free for All[edit]

Original Music by Richard A. Whiting, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II

Act 1 consists of

  • "I Love Him, the Rat" sung by Anita Allen and Joe Butler (Perpetual Student at Leland Stanford)
  • "Free For All" sung by Michael Byrne (a Radical Poet) and The Gang
  • "The Girl Next Door" sung by Anita Allen and Steve Potter, Jr. (Son of Stephen, Sr.)
  • "Living in Sin" sung by Gracie Maynard, Joan Summer (Youngest of the Gang), Joe Butler (Perpetual Student at Leland Stanford) and Andy Bradford
  • "Just Eighteen" sung by Joan Summer (Youngest of the Gang) and Andy Bradford
  • "Not That I Care" sung by Anita Allen and Steve Potter, Jr. (Son of Stephen, Sr.)
  • "Slumber Song" Sung by Marishka Tarasov and Michael Byrne (a Radical Poet)

Act 2 consists of

  • "When Your Boy Becomes a Man" sung by Silver Dollar Kate and Anita Allen
  • "Tonight" sung by Marishka Tarasov and Anita Allen
  • "Nevada Moonlight" sung by Joe Butler (Perpetual Student at Leland Stanford), Gracie Maynard and Ensemble

Richard Whiting was also referenced in the 1980 Broadway show a Day in Hollywood/ a Night in the Ukraine where a medley of his songs are performed in the first act. One of the actors comically portrays him during the song It All Comes Out of the Piano.[citation needed]

Hit songs[edit]

Notable Recordings[edit]

Frank Sinatra recorded Whiting's "Too Marvelous for Words" on his album Songs for Swingin' Lovers!. Sinatra also recorded Whiting's "She's Funny That Way" on his album Nice 'n' Easy, and other songs such as "My Ideal".

Tony Bennett recorded many of Whiting's songs, such as "My Ideal" on his album Here's to the Ladies, "True Blue Lou" and "She's Funny That Way."

Margaret Whiting (his daughter) recorded and made famous several Whiting hits including "Guilty", "Too Marvelous for Words" and "Ain't We Got Fun?"

Some other notable artists to record Whiting songs:

Modern Day Usage[edit]

In 2006 the film A Good Year starring Russel Crow and Marion Cotillard featured the song "Breezin' Along with the Breeze" with music by Whiting and lyrics by Haven Gillespie and Seymour Simons

In 2009 Renee Olstead used the song "Ain't We Got Fun" written by Whiting, Raymond B. Egan and Gus Kahn for her album Skylark

In 2010 the show Boardwalk Empire used the music from Whiting's "The Japanese Sandman" in the first 5 episodes of the show. A version with lyrics by Raymond B. Egan appeared in the show on October 24, 2010.

In 2010 Enrique Iglesias used a segment of "On the Good Ship Lollipop" written by Whiting and Sidney Clare for Bright Eyes in his Youtube video for the song "Tonight (I'm Lovin' You)"

In 2011 Diet Coke used Whiting's music to the song "Hooray for Hollywood" in their Oscar commercial which played nation wide in movie theaters.


External links[edit]