Alan Jay Lerner was an American librettist and lyricist who along with Frederick Loewe created some of the most renowned and enduring works of musical theatre. He is also the recipient of three Tony Awards and the prestigious three Academy Awards.
Lerner’s career in music started with his collegiate contributions. In the initial days of his career, he wrote radio scripts which included ‘Your Hit Parade’ which continued until he met Austrian composer Frederick Loewe in 1942. Together, they did a musical collaboration of Barry Connor's farce ‘The Patsy called Life of the Party for a Detroit Stock Company’ which enjoyed a nine week successful run. The duo also joined hands with Arthur Pierson for ‘What’s Up?’. This ran for 63 performances which was followed by ‘The Day Before Spring’ which led to establishing one of the most successful partnerships of Broadway.
The first hit of this partnership is ‘Brigadoon’ which was followed by ‘Gold Rush story Paint Your Wagon’ which was less successful. Lerner also worked with Kurt Weill on a stage musical show namely, ‘Love Life and on the movie, and ‘Royal Wedding’ which was followed by ‘An American in Paris’, which won him the prestigious Oscar award.
It was in 1956 that Lerner and Loewe unveiled ‘My Fair Lady’ which hit the box office records in New York and London and its filmy adaptation won eight Oscars. In 1965, Lerner collaborated with Burton Lane to produce the musical, ‘On a Clear Day You Can See Forever’. Lerner was inducted into Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Lerner passed away on 14 June, 1986 in Manhattan due to Lung cancer at the age of 67. Regarding his personal life, he married eight times and at the time of his death, his wife was actress Liz Robertson who was thirty six years junior to him.
Life of the Party (1942), with Frederick Loewe
What's Up? (1943), with Frederick Loewe
The Day Before Spring (1945), with Frederick Loewe
Brigadoon (1947), with Frederick Loewe
Love Life (1948), with Kurt Weill
Paint Your Wagon (1951), Frederick Loewe
My Fair Lady (1956), with Frederick Loewe
Camelot (1960), with Frederick Loewe
Royal Wedding, 1951 (lyricist)
An American in Paris (1951) (writer)
Brigadoon, 1954 (film) (lyricist)
Gigi, 1958 (screenwriter/lyricist)
The Little Prince, 1973 (screenwriter/lyricist)
Tribute, 1980 ("It's All for the Best," lyricist)
Secret Places, 1984 (title song lyricist)
Awards and Achievements
Kennedy Center Honors, 1985
Best Original Screenplay for An American in Paris, 1951
Best Adapted Screenplay for Gigi, 1958
Best Original Song for Gigi, 1958
Best Original Song for Camelot, 1968
Best Original Score for The Little Prince, 1975
Best Book of a Musical for My Fair Lady, 1957
Best Original Score for My Fair Lady, 1957
Best Original Score for Gigi, 1974
Lerner has three daughters and a son in his eight wives namely Susan (by Boyd), Liza and Jennifer (by Olson) and Michael (by di Borgo)
Alan Jay Lerne wrote an autobiography by the name ‘The Street Where I Live’.
Alan Jay Lerne association with Frederick Loewe resulted in plenty of hits including that of Brigadoon (1947), My Fair Lady (1956). The duo was given Tony award in 1974 for best score of a musical for the musical adaptation of Gigi.
While studying in Harvard, Lerner lost the sight in the left eye due to an accident in a boxing match. This injury prevented his participation in the World War II though he wrote radio scripts during the war.
Alan Lerner married eight times in his life; he married Ruth Boyd (1940–1947), Nancy Olson (1950–1957), Micheline Muselli Pozzo di Borgo (1957–1965), Editor Karen Gunderson (1966–1974), Sandra Payne (1974–1976), Nina Bushkin (1977–1981) and Liz Robertson (1981–1986) who remained with him till his death.
1918: Alan Jay Lerner was born on 31 August in New York.
1942: Lerner meets composer Frederick Loewe, the meeting which was the biggest breakthrough in his career.
1947: Lerner- Loewe association’s first biggest success happens in the form of Broadway musical, ‘Brigadoon’.
1956: The show of ‘My Fair Lady’, the filmy adaptation of George Bernard Shaw play Pygmalion was opened on 15 March.
1958: Lerner and Loewe won the academy awards for ‘Gigi. ’
1986: Lerner passed away due to Lung cancer in New York on 14 June.