Buddy DeSylva

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Buddy DeSylva
Birth nameGeorge Gard DeSylva
Also known asBuddy De Sylva, Buddy DeSylva, Bud De Sylva, Buddy G. DeSylva, B.G. DeSylva
Born(1895-01-27)January 27, 1895
New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedJuly 11, 1950(1950-07-11) (aged 55)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation(s)Songwriter, film producer, record executive
Associated actsLew Brown, Ray Henderson
Song written by Buddy DeSylva

George Gard "Buddy" DeSylva (January 27, 1895 – July 11, 1950) was an American songwriter, film producer and record executive. He wrote or co-wrote many popular songs and along with Johnny Mercer and Glenn Wallichs, he founded Capitol Records.


DeSylva was born in New York City, but grew up in California and attended the University of Southern California, where he joined the Theta Xi Fraternity. His father, Aloysius J. De Sylva, was better known to American audiences as the Portuguese-born actor, Hal De Forrest.[1] His mother, Georgetta Miles Gard, was the daughter of Los Angeles police chief George E. Gard.

DeSylva's first successful songs were those used by Al Jolson on Broadway in the 1918 Sinbad production, which included "I'll Say She Does". Soon thereafter he met Jolson and in 1918 the pair went to New York and DeSylva began working as a songwriter in Tin Pan Alley.

In the early 1920s, DeSylva frequently worked with composer George Gershwin.[2] Together they created the experimental one-act jazz opera Blue Monday set in Harlem, which is widely regarded as a forerunner to Porgy and Bess ten years later.

In April 1924, DeSylva married Marie Wallace, a Ziegfeld Follies dancer.

In 1925, DeSylva became one third of the songwriting team with lyricist Lew Brown and composer Ray Henderson, one of the top Tin Pan Alley songwriters of the era.[3] The team was responsible for the song Magnolia (1927) which was popularized by Lou Gold's orchestra.[4] The writing and publishing partnership continued until 1930, producing a string of hits and the perennial Broadway favorite Good News.[5] The popularity of this team was so great that Gershwin's mother supposedly chided her sons for not being able to write the sort of hits turned out by the trio.

DeSylva joined ASCAP in 1920 and served on the ASCAP board of directors between 1922 and 1930. He became a producer of stage and screen musicals. DeSylva relocated to Hollywood and went under contract to Fox Studios. During this tenure, he produced movies such as The Little Colonel, The Littlest Rebel, Captain January, Poor Little Rich Girl and Stowaway. In 1941, he became the Executive Producer at Paramount Pictures, a position he would hold until 1944. At Paramount, he was also an uncredited executive producer for Double Indemnity, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Story of Dr. Wassell and The Glass Key. Betty Hutton always credited DeSylva for bringing her to Hollywood and launching her film career.[6]

The Paramount all-star extravaganza Star Spangled Rhythm, which takes place at the Paramount film studio in Hollywood, features a fictional movie executive named "B.G. DeSoto" (played by Walter Abel) who is a parody of DeSylva.

In 1942, Johnny Mercer, Glenn Wallichs and DeSylva together founded Capitol Records. He also founded the Cowboy label.

He is sometimes credited as: Buddy De Sylva, Buddy DeSylva, Bud De Sylva, Buddy G. DeSylva and B.G. DeSylva.

Buddy DeSylva died in Hollywood, aged 55, and is buried at Glendale's Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery.[7]

Individual songs[edit]

  • Desylva, Buddy, B. G. De Sylva, Lew Brown, and Ray Henderson. Good News: vocal selection. [Place of publication not identified]: Chappell, n.d. {{OCLC|495863850
  • Henderson, Ray, B. G. De Sylva, and Bud Green. "Alabamy Bound". New York: Shapiro, Bernstein & Co, 1925. OCLC 645628000
  • De Sylva, B. G., Lew Brown, and Ray Henderson. "Magnolia". 1927. OCLC 918927178
  • "Avalon"
  • "April Showers"
  • "Birth of the Blues"
  • "California, Here I Come"
  • "If You Knew Susie"
  • "It All Depends on You" (song)
  • "The Best Things in Life Are Free"
  • "The Varsity Drag"
  • "Somebody Loves Me"
  • "Sonny Boy"

Broadway credits[edit]

Selected filmography[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

The 1956 Hollywood film The Best Things in Life Are Free, starring Gordon MacRae, Dan Dailey, and Ernest Borgnine, depicted the De Sylva, Brown and Henderson collaboration.[8]


  1. ^ "Composers-Lyricists Database, Biography: Buddy DeSylva". Retrieved 2008-01-10.
  2. ^ Furia, Philip (1990). The Poets of Tin Pan Alley: a History of America's Great Lyricists. Oxford University Press. p. 88. ISBN 0195064089.
  3. ^ Furia, Philip (1990). The Poets of Tin Pan Alley: a History of America's Great Lyricists. Oxford University Press. p. 87. ISBN 0195064089.
  4. ^ Jasen, David A. (2003). Tin Pan Alley An Encyclopedia of the Golden Age of Song. Routledge. p. 109. ISBN 0415938775.
  5. ^ Furia, Philip (1990). The Poets of Tin Pan Alley: a History of America's Great Lyricists. Oxford University Press. p. 94. ISBN 0195064089.
  6. ^ https://www.forbes.com/sites/maryclairekendall/2013/03/11/betty-huttons-miraculous-recovery/#503ee87f1716
  7. ^ "Buddy DeSylva (1895 - 1950) - Find A Grave Memorial". www.findagrave.com. Retrieved 2016-08-01.
  8. ^ Jasen, David A. (2003). Tin Pan Alley An Encyclopedia of the Golden Age of Song. Routledge. p. 110. ISBN 0415938775.

Further reading[edit]

  • Ewen, David (1970). Great Men of American Popular Song ASIN: B000OKLHXU
  • Green, Stanley (1984). The World Of Musical Comedy. Publisher: Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80207-4

External links[edit]