Tuesday, January 26, 2010
A GREAT SONGWRITER REMEMBERED
Jimmy Van Heusen was an amazing songwriter who wrote some of the best known tunes in songwriting history. Everyone knows many of his standards especially the Bing Crosby hit "Swinging On A Star" Collaborating with lyricist Eddie DeLange, on songs such as "Heaven Can Wait", "So Help Me", and "Darn That Dream", his work became more prolific, writing over 60 songs in 1940 alone. It was in 1940 that he teamed up with the lyricist Johnny Burke. Burke and Van Heusen moved to Hollywood writing for stage musicals and films throughout the '40s and early '50s, winning an Academy Award for Best Original Song for the aforementioned huge hit "Swinging on a Star" (1944). Their songs were also featured in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1949). He was also also a pilot of some accomplishment; he worked, using his birth name, as a part-time test pilot for Lockheed Corporation in World War II. Jimmy then teamed up with lyricist Sammy Cahn. Their three Academy Awards for Best Song were won for "All the Way" (1957) from The Joker Is Wild, "High Hopes" (1959) from A Hole in the Head, and "Call Me Irresponsible" (1963) from Papa's Delicate Condition. Their songs were also featured in Rear Window (1954) and Ocean's Eleven (1960). Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen also wrote "Love and Marriage" (1955), -- yes the song that made their widows rich when "Married With Children a good fifty percent of the song as its opening theme. There was also the song"To Love and Be Loved", "Come Fly with Me", "Only the Lonely", and "Come Dance with Me" with many of their compositions being the title songs for Frank Sinatra's albums of the late 50's. Jimmy Van Heusen wrote the music for two Broadway musicals: Skyscraper (1965) and Walking Happy (1966). These shows were not successful and the songwriter did not try again. He became an inductee of the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1971. Jimmy composed over 800 plus songs of which 50 songs became standards. His songs are featured in over one hundred eighty films. Jimmy retired in the late 1970s, and died in Rancho Mirage, California in 1990, at the age of 77. He was close friends throughout life with Frank Sinatra. So close that he is buried in the Sinatra family burial plot in Desert Memorial Park. His amazing grave marker reads Swinging On A Star. Well another day as a car salesman and trying to make ends meet. Dear God, watch over me!