THE MUSIC Of RICHARD ADLER AND JERRY ROSS
is from the the
PBS series: Broadway: The American Musical
Richard Adler (1921)
Jerry Ross (1926-1955)
This composer, lyricist, and producer had two hit Broadway shows
in the '50s, but has since been unable to produce another one.
of a concert pianist, Adler was not attracted to classical music,
and studied to be a writer at the University of North Carolina
three years in the U.S. Navy. After his discharge he went into the
advertising business, and occasionally composed songs in his spare
time. In the early '50s he met Jerry Ross (b. Jerold Rosenberg, March
9, 1926, the Bronx, New York, USA, d. November 11, 1955, New York,
USA), and they began to write songs together. In 1953, contracted
to Frank Loesser's publishing company Frank Music, they had
a hit with "Rags
to Riches," which became a U.S. chart-topper for Tony Bennett.
After contributing several numbers to the revue "John Murray Anderson's
Almanac," Adler and Ross wrote the complete score for "The
Pajama Game," which opened on Broadway in May 1954 and ran for
1,063 performances. Several of the songs became popular outside the
show, including "Hernando's Hideaway," "Hey There" (a
U.S. number 1 for Rosemary Clooney) and "Small Talk."
After Ross' death Adler turned his hand to producing.
Almost exactly one year later, they returned with the highly entertaining
baseball musical "Damn Yankees," which once again was full of lively and tuneful
songs such as "Heart," which became successful for Eddie Fisher and
the Four Aces, and "Whatever Lola Wants," a chart hit for Sarah Vaughan
and Dinah Shore. The show was settling in for a run of 1,019 performances when
Ross died of leukemia in November 1955. Three years later, "Everybody Loves
a Lover," another Adler-Ross song, which does not appear to have been included
in a show or film, became a hit for Doris Day. After Ross' death Adler turned
his hand to producing, but without success: "The Sin of Pat Muldoon," Richard
Rodgers' "Rex," and "Music Is" (for which Adler also wrote
the music) were major disappointments. In the '60s he wrote both music and lyrics
for "Kwamina" and "A Mother's Kisses," but neither took off.
His score for "Kwamina," a show whose theme was a plea for racial tolerance
in Africa and starred his then-wife Sally Ann Howes, was regarded as a fine piece
of work, and can now be reassessed following the rerelease of the original cast
recording by Broadway Angel Records. Adler has also been actively writing for
television commercials, and directing business conventions and political rallies.
YOU GOTTA HAVE HEART, Richard Adler with Lee Davis.