Dorothy Fields

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Dorothy Fields (July 15, 1905 - March 28, 1974) was an American librettist and lyricist who wrote well over 400 songs for Broadway musicals and films. She had great talent to match colloquial every–day speech to complex scores, and was, along with Ann Ronell, Dana Suesse, and Kay Swift one of the first successful Hollywood and Tin Pan Alley female composers or librettists.

Dorothy Fields was born in Allenhurst, New Jersey and grew up in New York City. Her father, Lew Fields, was a well-known Vaudeville comedian and later became a Broadway producer. Her career as a professional songwriter took off in 1928, when Jimmy McHugh, who had seen some of her early work, invited her to provide some lyrics for him. Fields and McHugh teamed up until 1935. Songs from this period include "I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby" and "On The Sunny Side of the Street".

In the mid-1930s, she started to write lyrics for films and collaborated with other composers, including Jerome Kern. With Kern, she worked on the movie version of Roberta, and also on their greatest success, Swing Time. The song "The Way You Look Tonight" earned the Fields/Kern team an Academy Award for the best song in 1936.

She returned to New York and worked again on Broadway shows, but now as a librettist, first with Arthur Schwartz on Stars In Your Eyes. In the 1940s, she teamed up with her brother Herbert, with whom she wrote the books for three Cole Porter shows: Let's Face It, Something For The Boys, and Mexican Hayride. Together, they wrote the book for Annie Get Your Gun, a musical inspired by the life of Annie Oakley. They had intended for Jerome Kern to write the music, but when he died, Irving Berlin was brought in. The show, which included the songs "There's No Business Like Show Business" and "They Say It's Wonderful", was a full success and ran for 1,147 performances.

In the 1950s, her biggest success was the show Redhead (1959), which won two Tony Awards, one for "Best Musical" and another one for Albert Hague's score. When she started collaborating with Cy Coleman in the 1960s, her career took a new turn. She easily adapted to the new style of music; their first work together was Sweet Charity. Her last hit was from their second collaboration in 1973, Seesaw. Its title was "It's Not Where You Start, It's Where You Finish".

Dorothy Fields died of a heart attack on March 28, 1974 in New York City.


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