Bob Russell (songwriter)

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Bob Russell (born Sidney Keith Rosenthal;[1][2] April 25, 1914[1] – February 18, 1970[3]) was an American songwriter (mainly lyricist) born Sidney Keith Rosenthal in Passaic, New Jersey.[1]


Russell attended Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He worked as an advertising copywriter in New York; for a time, his roommate there was Sidney Sheldon, later a novelist. He turned to writing material for vaudeville acts, and then for film studios, ultimately writing complete scores for two movies: Jack and the Beanstalk and Reach for Glory. The latter film received the Locarno International Film Festival prize in 1962. A number of other movies featured compositions by Russell, including Affair in Trinidad (1952), Blue Gardenia (1953), The Girl Can't Help It (1956), The Girl Most Likely (1957), A Matter of WHO (1961), Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd (1952), Sound Off (1952), That Midnight Kiss (1949), and A Ticket to Tomahawk (1950).[4] In the movies The Girl Most Likely, Blue Gardenia and Matter of WHO, Russell's compositions included the title songs.

In 1968, Russell along with songwriting partner Quincy Jones was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Original Song category ("The Eyes of Love" for the film Banning). The following year, he and Jones were again nominated in the same category (the title song for the Sidney Poitier film For Love of Ivy).

He had his last hit song in 1969–70 with "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother", co-written with Bobby Scott and recorded by The Hollies. The song was introduced to the group by Russell's son-in-law Jefferey Spearitt, who was living in London at the time with his wife Simohn.

Among Russell's collaborators were Louis Alter, Peter De Rose, Duke Ellington, Bronislaw Kaper, Lester Lee, Carl Sigman, Harold Spina, and Harry Warren.

Hall of fame[edit]

In 1970, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.[5] In 2004, he was posthumously awarded the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers lifetime achievement award in the pop category. The award's presenter, songwriter Marilyn Bergman, called Russell a "mentor and dear, dear friend," without whom she "never would have become a songwriter."[6]

Personal life and death[edit]

Russell died in 1970 from lymphoma in Beverly Hills. He was survived by his wife, Hannah Russell (1913–2002), sister of songwriter Bud Green.

Published songs[edit]




  1. ^ a b c "Bob Russell Biography" Archived 2015-06-26 at the Wayback Machine, Songwriters Hall of Fame.
  2. ^ Sheldon., Sidney (2005). The Other Side of Me. New York: Warner Books. p.&nbspp;62–63, 65, 68, 104. ISBN 0-446-57895-9. "Early one morning, I received a phone call. 'Sidney?' 'Yes.' 'Hi, pal. This is Bob Russell.' Not only was I not his pal, but I had never heard of Bob Russell. Probably a salesman. 'I'm sorry,' I said, 'but I haven't time to—' 'You should've done some songs with Max Rich.' I was startled for a moment. Who could have known? But then I realized who it was. 'Sidney Rosenthal!' 'Bob Russell,' he corrected. 'I'm coming out to Hollywood to see you.' 'Great!' One week later, Bob Russell arrived and moved into the last available room in Gracie's boardinghouse."
  3. ^ The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (1980). ASCAP Biographical Dictionary, Fourth Edition New York: R.R. Bowker Company. ISBN 0-8352-1283-1.
  4. ^ "Bob Russell (II) (1914–1970)", IMDb.
  5. ^ Tyler, Don (2007). [ Hit Songs, 1900-1955: American Popular Music of the Pre-Rock Era]. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company. p. 467. ISBN 978-0-7864-2946-2.
  6. ^ Bessman, Jim (January 8, 2005). "Words & Music(TM): Russell's Songs Still 'Get Around' At ASCAP Fete". Billboard. p. 40. ProQuest 963289463. For ASCAP president/chairman and foundation president Marilyn Bergman, her presentation to the daughters of late master lyricist Bob Russell (Don't Get Around Much Anymore, which paired Russell's words with Duke Ellington's 'Never Know Lament,' and 'Ballerina,' written with Carl Sigman) was profoundly personal. 'I never would have become a songwriter if it weren't for Bob Russell,' she said, citing him as her "mentor and teacher and dear, dear friend.'

External links[edit]