Saturday, November 25, 2006

a woman who made the world a better place

Thanksgiving Day, Betty Comden died of heart failure, 89 years of age. There are many, many obits and appreciations. I like best the one in the New York Times (Betty Comden, Half of Lyrics Team Behind Musicals of Grace and Wit, Dies at 89, by Robert Berkvist.) He says:
During a professional partnership that lasted for more than 60 years, and which finally ended with Mr. Green’s death in 2002, the Comden-Green blend of sophisticated wit and musical know-how lit up stage shows like “On the Town,” “Wonderful Town,” “Peter Pan” and “Bells Are Ringing.” Their Hollywood credits included the screenplays for two landmark film musicals, “Singin’ in the Rain” and “The Band Wagon.”

Through the years they worked with composers like Leonard Bernstein, Cy Coleman, Jule Styne and André Previn, creating songs like “New York, New York,” “The Party’s Over,” “It’s Love” and “Some Other Time.” They were adept at making their lyrics fit the mood, whether it was rueful (“Lonely Town”), raucous (“100 Easy Ways to Lose a Man”) or romantic (“Just in Time”).

The title of one of their own songs, from “Bells Are Ringing,” summed up their joint career: it was truly a “Perfect Relationship” in which they met daily, most often in Ms. Comden’s living room, either to work on a show, to trade ideas or even just talk about the weather.
The hospital where she died, NewYork-Presbyterian, was the one where I was born. She was then 24, newly married and already partnered with Adolf Green (in a cabaret act at the Village Vanguard called the Revuers). The publicity shot directly below, taken two years later, shows the two of them rehearsing "On the Town" with Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Robbins.

image credit: NYT

image credit: Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times

Broadway World has a gallery of recent photos including this one.

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