December 15, 1911
Lawrence, New York
|Died||December 9, 2003
Manhattan, New York City
|Known for||How Did He Look?|
Gladys Shaskan was born in Lawrence, New York to George Fried and Fannie Shaskan. She began writing at an early age. Her first efforts were primarily poetry and before graduating from high school she had had several items of her light verse published by Walter Winchell and other newspaper columnists.
In 1940, Gladys Shelley and Abner Silver penned How Did He Look? which became her first hit and most frequently recorded song, originally done in 1941 by Joan Merrill. Her second song with Silver, There Shall Be No Night, had its title taken from a then-current anti-Nazi play, and was recorded by the orchestras of Duke Ellington, Bob Chester, and Dick Jurgens. Over the course of her career, she penned more than 300 songs with a variety of composers, including Morton Gould, Frank Black, and Fred Astaire. The Shelly-Astaire collaboration, Just Like Taking Candy From A Baby, was recorded by Fred Astaire. A 1946 musical entitled The Duchess Misbehaves, for which she wrote the book and lyrics, opened at the Adelphi Theater in Manhattan, but managed only three performances before closing.
The song "Oliver Twist", she co-wrote along with Rod McKuen, appeared on the same-named single issued on the Spiral label. It was sung by McKuend and in 1961 reached No. 76 on the Billboard pop chart.
Palisades Amusement Park
Gladys Shelley married Irving Rosenthal, the owner of New Jersey's Palisades Amusement Park, and in 1965 she wrote the music and lyrics to a radio and television jingle called Come on Over which proved to be a catchy and effective promotions device. The jingle was used until the park closed in 1971, rhyming "Palisades Amusement Park" with "swings all day and after dark."  Shelley also wrote the theme song for the Little Miss America pageant, which debuted at Palisades Park in 1961 as a children's version of Miss America for girls aged 5 to 10.
Her plaintive tune, How Did He Look?, remained a New York cabaret favorite for more than sixty years and became associated with performer Mabel Mercer for whom it became a signature song. Other artists covering the tune included Carmen McRae, Eydie Gorme, Dakota Staton, Connie Francis, Vic Damone, Kevin Mahogany, and Mel Torme. The male versions sang the lyrics as How Did She Look?
She died at her Manhattan home at age 92. The composer's death on December 9, 2002 was announced by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, the agency that licensed her songs. Her New York Times obituary noted that the composer was a "memorable presence in her East Side neighborhood, where the sight of Ms. Shelley walking her five chihuahuas was a familiar one for many years."
- The Duchess Misbehaves, book and lyrics (Feb 13, 1946 - Feb 16, 1946)
- Money Mad, performer (May 24, 1937 - May 24, 1937)
- Moon Over Mulberry Street, performer (September 4, 1935 - May 1936)
- Baby Pompadour, performer (Dec 27, 1934 - Dec 1934)
- "Gladys Shelley". The Independent. January 31, 2004. Retrieved 2009-02-05.
Gladys Shelley, a prolific songwriter whose ballad How Did He Look? became a cabaret standard and whose jingle for Palisades Amusement Park once saturated the airwaves in the New York area, died on Dec. 9 at home in Manhattan. She was 92. Her death was reported by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, which licenses her songs.[dead link]
- Keepnews, Peter (December 22, 2003). "Gladys Shelley, 92, Songwriter For Cabaret and Advertising". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-02-05.
Gladys Shelley, a prolific songwriter whose ballad How Did He Look? became a cabaret standard and whose jingle for Palisades Amusement Park once saturated the airwaves in the New York area, died on Dec. 9 at home in Manhattan. She was 92.
- Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
- Myers, Marc (September 13, 1981). "Palisades Park: Just A Memory". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-02-05.
Irving was especially wonderful with the kids, said Gladys Shelley, his widow. Miss Shelley, a composer, wrote the park's catchy radio jingle, Come on Over.
- "First Night in Forty-fifth Street. A Few Dates. Actors at Work. Sundry Broadway Items.". New York Times. September 4, 1935. Retrieved 2009-02-05.
This evening will distinguish itself by playing host to an opening, "Moon Over Mulberry Street," which should arrive at the Lyceum Theatre at 8:40 or thereabout. It is the work of Nicholas Cosentino, and has to do with an East Side boy and a Park Avenue girl.