Paul Francis Webster

Last updated
Paul Francis Webster
Born(1907-12-20)December 20, 1907
Origin New York City, United States
DiedMarch 18, 1984(1984-03-18) (aged 76)
Beverly Hills, California, United States
Occupation(s) Lyricist

Paul Francis Webster (December 20, 1907 – March 18, 1984) was an American lyricist who won three Academy Awards for Best Original Song and was nominated sixteen times for the award.


Life and career

Webster was born in New York City, the son of Myron Lawrence Webster and Blanche Pauline Stonehill Webster. His family was Jewish. His father was born in Augustów, Poland. [1] He attended the Horace Mann School (Riverdale, Bronx, New York), graduating in 1926, and then went to Cornell University from 1927 to 1928 and New York University from 1928 to 1930, leaving without receiving a degree. He worked on ships throughout Asia and then became a dance instructor at an Arthur Murray studio in New York City. [2] [3]

By 1931, however, he turned his career direction to writing song lyrics. His first professional lyric was Masquerade (music by John Jacob Loeb) which became a hit in 1932, performed by Paul Whiteman.

In 1935 Twentieth Century Fox signed him to a contract to write lyrics for Shirley Temple's films, but shortly afterward he went back to freelance writing. His first hit was a collaboration in 1941 with Duke Ellington on the song "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)".

After 1950, Webster worked mostly for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He won two Academy Awards in collaboration with Sammy Fain, in 1953 and 1955, and another with Johnny Mandel in 1965. Altogether, sixteen of his songs received Academy Award nominations; among lyricists, he is third after Sammy Cahn with twenty-six and Johnny Mercer, who was nominated eighteen times, in number of nominations. In addition, a large number of his songs became major hits on the popular music charts.

Webster is the most successful songwriter of the 1950s on the U.K. charts. In 1967 he was asked to write the famed lyrics for the Spider-Man (theme song) of the television cartoon. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972. [4] His papers are collected at Syracuse University Libraries. [5]

Webster's son Guy was a prolific photographer of musicians and bands in the 1960s and 1970s. [6]

Webster continued writing through 1983. [3] He died in 1984 in Beverly Hills, California and is buried at Hillside Memorial Park in Culver City, California.

List of songs

Here is a partial list of songs for which he wrote the lyrics: [3] [7] [8]

Songs by Paul Francis Webster that won the Academy Award for Best Original Song

Nominated for the award

Songs winning Grammy Awards for best song of the year

Other songs with lyrics by Paul Francis Webster

Song compilation

Related Research Articles

Sammy Cahn American lyricist, songwriter, musician

Samuel Cohen, known professionally as Sammy Cahn, was an American lyricist, songwriter and musician. He is best known for his romantic lyrics to films and Broadway songs, as well as stand-alone songs premiered by recording companies in the Greater Los Angeles Area. He and his collaborators had a series of hit recordings with Frank Sinatra during the singer's tenure at Capitol Records, but also enjoyed hits with Dean Martin, Doris Day and many others. He played the piano and violin. He won an Oscar four times for his songs, including the popular song "Three Coins in the Fountain".

Bronisław Kaper was a Polish film composer who scored films and musical theater in Germany, France, and the USA. The American immigration authorities misspelled his name as Bronislau Kaper. He was also variously credited as Bronislaw Kaper, Bronislaw Kapper, Benjamin Kapper, and Edward Kane.

Jimmy Van Heusen

James Van Heusen was an American composer. He wrote songs for films, television and theater, and won an Emmy and four Academy Awards for Best Original Song.

Johnny Burke (lyricist)

John Francis Burke was a lyricist, successful and prolific between the 1920s and 1950s. His work is considered part of the Great American Songbook.

Sammy Fain

Sammy Fain was an American composer of popular music. In the 1920s and early 1930s, he contributed numerous songs that form part of The Great American Songbook, and to Broadway theatre. Fain was also a popular musician and vocalist.

John Alfred Mandel was an American composer and arranger of popular songs, film music and jazz. The musicians he worked with include Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Anita O'Day, Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Diane Schuur and Shirley Horn. He won 5 Grammy Awards - from 17 nominations; his first nomination was for his debut film score for the multi-nominated 1958 film I Want to Live!.

Hugh Martin was an American musical theater and film composer, arranger, vocal coach, and playwright. He was best known for his score for the 1944 MGM musical Meet Me in St. Louis, in which Judy Garland sang three Martin songs, "The Boy Next Door," "The Trolley Song," and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." The last of these has become a Christmas season standard in the United States and around the English-speaking world. Martin became a close friend of Garland and was her accompanist at many of her concert performances in the 1950s, including her appearances at the Palace Theater.

Gene de Paul American musician

Gene Vincent de Paul was an American pianist, composer and songwriter.

<i>Tender Is the Night</i> (film) 1962 film directed by Henry King

Tender Is the Night is a 1962 American film directed by Henry King and starring Jennifer Jones and Jason Robards, Jr.. King's last film, it is based on the 1934 novel of the same name by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Norman Gimbel was an American lyricist of popular songs, television and movie themes. He wrote the lyrics for songs including "Killing Me Softly with His Song", "Ready to Take a Chance Again" and "Canadian Sunset". He also wrote English-language lyrics for many international hits, including "Sway", "Summer Samba", "The Girl from Ipanema", "How Insensitive", "Drinking-Water", "Meditation", "I Will Wait for You" and "Watch What Happens". Of the movie themes he co-wrote, five were nominated for Academy Awards and/or Golden Globe Awards, including "It Goes Like It Goes", from the film Norma Rae, which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for 1979, beating out "Rainbow Connection". Gimbel was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984.

<i>The Sandpiper</i> 1965 film

The Sandpiper is a 1965 American drama film directed by Vincente Minnelli and starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.

Nicholas "Slug" Brodszky was a composer of popular songs.

"The Shadow of Your Smile", also known as "Love Theme from The Sandpiper", is a popular song. The music was written by Johnny Mandel with the lyrics written by Paul Francis Webster. The song was introduced in the 1965 film The Sandpiper, with a trumpet solo by Jack Sheldon and later became a minor hit for Tony Bennett. It won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year and the Academy Award for Best Original Song. In 2004 the song finished at #77 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs poll of the top tunes in American cinema.

<i>Then Was Then – Now Is Now!</i> 1965 studio album by Peggy Lee

Then Was Then – Now Is Now! is a 1965 album by Peggy Lee.

<i>The Movie Song Album</i> 1966 studio album by Tony Bennett

The Movie Song Album is a 1966 studio album by Tony Bennett. The album consists of songs from films, opening with the theme from The Oscar, in which Bennett had recently appeared. With this project of such high quality of song material and collaborators, he was to describe the album in his autobiography as his "all time favorite record".

<i>Hollywood – My Way</i> 1963 studio album by Nancy Wilson

Hollywood – My Way is a studio album by Nancy Wilson issued in July 1963 on Capitol Records. The album rose to No. 11 on the Billboard 200 chart.

<i>The Shadow of Your Smile</i> (Andy Williams album) 1966 studio album by Andy Williams

The Shadow of Your Smile is the eighteenth studio album by American pop singer Andy Williams and was released in April 1966 by Columbia Records and included covers of "Michelle" and "Yesterday", the same pair of Beatles ballads that labelmate Johnny Mathis recorded for his 1966 album of the same name. For Williams these selections initiated a trend away from the traditional pop formula that his album output at Columbia up until this point had adhered to.

<i>The Very Best of Andy Williams</i> (2000 album) 2000 compilation album by Andy Williams

The Very Best of Andy Williams is a compilation album by American pop singer Andy Williams that was released by Sony Music Entertainment on February 7, 2000.

Bob Morrison (songwriter) American country songwriter

Robert Edwin Morrison is an American country songwriter based in Nashville. More than 350 of his songs have been recorded. His most successful compositions are the Grammy-winning Kenny Rogers song, "You Decorated My Life" and the Grammy-nominated "Lookin' for Love," the theme song for the 1980 John Travolta film, Urban Cowboy, recorded by Johnny Lee. Morrison was ASCAP's "Country Songwriter of the Year" in 1978, 1980, 1981 and 1982 and was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2016.


  1. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-05-03. Retrieved 2017-07-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. "Potted biographies of musical theatre composers". Archived from the original on 14 August 2017. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  3. 1 2 3 "Paul Francis Webster". Michael Feinstein's American Songbook. Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Initiative. Archived from the original on 2015-01-13. Retrieved 2015-01-12.
  4. Paul Francis Webster at the Songwriters Hall of Fame
  5. "Paul Francis Webster Papers". Syracuse University Libraries. Syracuse University. Archived from the original on 2013-10-30. Retrieved 2015-01-12.
  6. Marinucci, Steve (February 7, 2019). "Guy Webster, Photographer of Album Covers by The Doors and Rolling Stones, Dies at 79". Variety . Retrieved February 8, 2019.
  7. "Paul Francis Webster Song Catalog". Songwriters Hall of Fame. Songwriters Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 2015-01-12. Retrieved 2015-01-12.
  8. "Songs Written by Paul Francis Webster". VF Entertainment. Retrieved 2015-01-12.