July 5, 1912|
New York, New York, U.S.
|Origin||New York, New York|
|Died||December 30, 1993
Rancho Mirage, California, U.S.
Mack David (July 5, 1912 – December 30, 1993) was an American lyricist and songwriter, best known for his work in film and television, with a career spanning the period between the early 1940s and the early 1970s. David was credited with writing lyrics and/or music for over one thousand songs. He was particularly well known for his work on the Disney films Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland, and for the mostly-English lyrics through which Édith Piaf's signature song "La Vie en rose" gained much of its familiarity among native speakers of English.
David was the elder brother of American lyricist and songwriter, Hal David. David died in 1993 in his Rancho Mirage, California home and his remains are buried at the Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.
Life and career
David was born on July 5, 1912 in New York City to a Jewish family. David originally planned to become an attorney and attended Cornell University and St. John's University Law School. Despite these original goals, in the mid-1940s, David began writing songs for New York's Tin Pan Alley. These initial successes prompted David to move to Hollywood, California, to work in the film and television industries. David enjoyed considerable success, including eight Academy Award nominations for "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo", which he, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston wrote for Walt Disney's Cinderella (1950), followed by the title songs from The Hanging Tree (1959), Bachelor in Paradise (1961), Walk on the Wild Side (1962), It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964), "The Ballad of Cat Ballou" from Cat Ballou (1965) and "My Wishing Doll" from Hawaii (1966). David was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1975. David's "most remunerative" song, "Sunflower", was published in 1948, and Frank Sinatra turned it into a hit. Jerry Herman's hit theme song for Hello, Dolly!, composed over a decade later, used the same melody line as David's "Sunflower." When David sued Herman for copyright infringement, Herman settled out of court with David (for a reputed $250,000), claiming he had never heard David's "Sunflower" prior to working on "Hello, Dolly!"
Academy Award nominations
- 1950 "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" (with Jerry Livingston and Al Hoffman) from Cinderella
- 1959 "The Hanging Tree" (with Jerry Livingston) from The Hanging Tree
- 1961 "Bachelor in Paradise" (with Henry Mancini) from Bachelor in Paradise
- 1961 "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" (with Ernest Gold) from It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
- 1962 "Walk on the Wild Side" (with Elmer Bernstein) from Walk on the Wild Side
- 1964 "Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte" (with Frank De Vol) from Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte
- 1965 "The Ballad of Cat Ballou" (with Jerry Livingston) from Cat Ballou
- 1966 "My Wishing Doll" (with Elmer Bernstein) from Hawaii
Composer and lyricist of popular songs
In addition to his many Academy Award nominations, David also had a number of hit songs, including:
- "Rain, Rain, Go Away" (1932)
- Duke Ellington's "I'm Just a Lucky So-and-So" (1939)
- I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine sung by Patti Page in 1950 (with subsequent cover versions)…it was later covered by Elvis Presley as a rockabilly-styled tune in 1954.
- "The Unbirthday Song" (with Jerry Livingston and Al Hoffman) from Alice in Wonderland (1951)
- The Shirelles' "Baby It's You" (1961 with Burt Bacharach and Luther Dixon (credited as Barney Williams))
- "(Beware of) The Blob" (a charted hit by The 5 Blobs; film theme song to 1958 camp-horror classic The Blob, starring Steve McQueen, with Burt Bacharach
- It Must Be Him (1967 with Gilbert Becaud)
- Casper the Friendly Ghost theme song (19?? with Jerry Livingston)
David also collaborated with many composers, including Raymond Scott, Al Hoffman, Alex Kramer, Count Basie, Burt Bacharach, Henry Mancini, and Jerry Livingston, on numerous songs for stage and screen, including Casper the Friendly Ghost, 77 Sunset Strip, Hawaiian Eye, Bourbon Street Beat, Surfside 6 and "This Is It" (for the 1960s The Bugs Bunny Show).
But perhaps David's most popular lyrics were those written for "La Vie en rose," a French song with lyrics by Édith Piaf and music by Louigny (Louis Guglielmi), which had been Piaf's "signature song". Although David did not write an English Translation of Piaf's lyrics, his words captured the spirit of the song and became a very popular American version because of performances by artists such as Louis Armstrong. The song has also been recorded by over eighty international singers and musicians, and been featured in several dozen motion pictures.
Work on Broadway
- Bright Lights of 1944 (1943) – revue – lyricist
- Gilbert Bécaud on Broadway (1966) – concert – featured lyricist
- Molly (1973) – musical – co-lyricist
- Sophisticated Ladies (1981) – revue – featured songwriter for "I'm Just a Lucky So-and-So"
- Swing! (1999) – revue – featured songwriter for "Candy"
David had a varied interest in musical composition. In 1975, according to the New York Times in David's obituary: "Mr. David was granted a patent for inventing an electronic system for composing songs from fractional recordings. The system, which included playback units, stored records of lyrics and melodies. The operator selected words and music that fit together and recorded the combination."
- "Mack David, 81, a Composer and Lyricist", The New York Times, Saturday, January 1, 1994.
- "La Vie en rose", at pp. 65–67 in Dan Coates, Decade by Decade 1940s: Ten Years of Popular Hits Arranged for Easy Piano, Alfred Music Publishing, 2008
- , "Note 62", at p. 98 in Stacy Linn Holman Jones, Torch singing: performing resistance and desire from Billie Holiday to Edith Piaf, Rowman Altamira, 2007
- "La Vie en Rose", at p. 144 in John Griswold, Ian Fleming's James Bond: Annotations And Chronologies for Ian Fleming's Bond Stories, AuthorHouse, 2006
- Mack David at Find a Grave
- Vosburgh, Dick. "Obituary for David Mack", The Independent, Wednesday, 19 January 1994
- Jerry Herman (with Marilyn Stasio). Showtune: A Memoir. New York: Donald I. Fine Books, 1996, pp. 102–108.