Buddy DeSylva

Last updated
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 acts Lew Brown, Ray Henderson
Song written by Buddy DeSylva April Showers cover.jpg
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.

A songwriter is a professional that writes lyrics and composes musical compositions for songs. A songwriter can also be called a composer, although the latter term tends to be used mainly for individuals from the classical music genre and film scoring, but is also associated writing and composing the original musical composition or musical bed. A songwriter that writes the lyrics/words are referred to as lyricist. The pressure from the music industry to produce popular hits means that songwriting is often an activity for which the tasks are distributed between a number of people. For example, a songwriter who excels at writing lyrics might be paired with a songwriter with the task of creating original melodies. Pop songs may be written by group members from the band or by staff writers – songwriters directly employed by music publishers. Some songwriters serve as their own music publishers, while others have outside publishers.

A film producer is a person who oversees film production. Either employed by a production company or working independently, producers plan and coordinate various aspects of film production, such as selecting the script; coordinating writing, directing, and editing; and arranging financing.

Johnny Mercer American lyricist, songwriter, singer and music professional

John Herndon Mercer was an American lyricist, songwriter, and singer. He was also a record label executive who co-founded Capitol Records with music industry businessman Buddy DeSylva and Glenn E. Wallichs.

Contents

Biography

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.

California State of the United States of America

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents across a total area of about 163,696 square miles (423,970 km2), California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second- and fifth-most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second-most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.

University of Southern California Private research university in Los Angeles, California, United States

The University of Southern California is a private research university in Los Angeles, California. Founded in 1880, it is the oldest private research university in California. For the 2018–19 academic year, there were 20,000 students enrolled in four-year undergraduate programs. USC also has 27,500 graduate and professional students in a number of different programs, including business, law, engineering, social work, occupational therapy, pharmacy, and medicine. It is the largest private employer in the city of Los Angeles and generates $8 billion in economic impact on Los Angeles and California.

Theta Xi college social fraternity

Theta Xi (ΘΞ) is a North American Greek-letter social college fraternity. It was founded at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) on April 29, 1864. Of all the social fraternities today, Theta Xi was the only one founded during the Civil War. Its Grand Lodge is headquartered in suburban St. Louis, Missouri. Since its inception, Theta Xi has grown to include more than 60,000 initiated members. Currently, there are approximately 50 active chapters, and 3 colonies. The Theta Xi Fraternity Chapter House at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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.

Al Jolson Russian-born American entertainer, actor, and singer

Al Jolson was an American singer, comedian, and actor. At the peak of his career, he was dubbed "The World's Greatest Entertainer". His performing style was brash and extroverted, and he popularized many songs that benefited from his "shamelessly sentimental, melodramatic approach." In the 1920s, Jolson was America's most famous and highest-paid entertainer.

Broadway theatre class of professional theater presented in New York City, New York, USA

Broadway theatre, also known simply as Broadway, refers to the theatrical performances presented in the 41 professional theatres, each with 500 or more seats located in the Theater District and Lincoln Center along Broadway, in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Along with London's West End theatre, Broadway theatre is widely considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world.

Tin Pan Alley group of New York City music publishers and songwriters who dominated the popular music of the United States in the late 19th century and early 20th century

Tin Pan Alley is the name given to the collection of New York City music publishers and songwriters who dominated the popular music of the United States in the late 19th century and early 20th century. The name originally referred to a specific place: West 28th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues in the Flower District of Manhattan; a plaque on the sidewalk on 28th Street between Broadway and Sixth commemorates it. In 2019 the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission took up the question of preserving five buildings on the north side of the street as a Tin Pan Alley Historic District.

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.

George Gershwin American composer and pianist

George Gershwin was an American composer and pianist whose compositions spanned both popular and classical genres. Among his best-known works are the orchestral compositions Rhapsody in Blue (1924) and An American in Paris (1928), the songs Swanee (1919) and Fascinating Rhythm (1924), the jazz standard I Got Rhythm (1930), and the opera Porgy and Bess (1935) which spawned the hit Summertime.

Experimental theatre Genre of theater

Experimental theatre began in Western theatre in the late 19th century with Alfred Jarry and his Ubu plays as a rejection of both the age in particular and, in general, the dominant ways of writing and producing plays. The term has shifted over time as the mainstream theatre world has adopted many forms that were once considered radical.

A one-act play is a play that has only one act, as distinct from plays that occur over several acts. One-act ploys may consist of one or more scenes. In recent years, the 10-minute play has emerged as a popular subgenre of the one-act play, especially in writing competitions. The origin of the one-act play may be traced to the very beginning of drama: in ancient Greece, Cyclops, a satyr play by Euripides, is an early example.

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

<i>Ziegfeld Follies</i> musical

The Ziegfeld Follies was a series of elaborate theatrical revue productions on Broadway in New York City from 1907 to 1931, with renewals in 1934 and 1936. They became a radio program in 1932 and 1936 as The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air.

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.

Lew Brown Russian-American Tin Pan Alley lyricist

Lew Brown was a lyricist for popular songs in the United States. During World War I and the Roaring Twenties, he wrote lyrics for several of the top Tin Pan Alley composers, especially Albert Von Tilzer. Brown was one third of a successful songwriting and music publishing team with Buddy DeSylva and Ray Henderson from 1925 until 1931. Brown also wrote or co-wrote many Broadway shows and Hollywood films. Among his most-popular songs are "Button Up Your Overcoat", "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree", "Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries", "That Old Feeling", and "The Birth of the Blues".

Ray Henderson was an American songwriter.

Lewis Milton Goldwasser was a composer, pianist and band leader immensely popular in New York City from the late-1910s to the early 1930s. His orchestra was an all-white band playing African American music active at first during the late 1910s and early 1920s in live music venues and later, from the mid 1920s through the 1930s, mostly in studio recordings, using several pseudonyms for the different labels.

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

Broadway credits

Selected filmography

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]

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Blue Monday was the original name of a one-act "jazz opera" by George Gershwin, renamed 135th Street during a later production. The English libretto was written by Buddy DeSylva. Though a short piece, with a running time of between twenty and thirty minutes, Blue Monday is often considered the blueprint to many of Gershwin's later works, and is often considered to be the "first piece of symphonic jazz" in that it was the first significant attempt to fuse forms of classical music such as opera with American popular music, with the opera largely influenced by Jazz and the African-American culture of Harlem.

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References

  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