R.I.P., Betty Comden

10832__betty_lTony-winning lyricist Betty Comden, half of a famed partnership with the late Adolph Green that contributed to dozens of Broadway and Hollywood musicals, died on Thanksgiving at age 89. A look at Comden’s IMDB page or her New York Times obituary tells the story of a writer who was as talented and versatile as she was prolific. Comden and Green (pictured) achieved prominence writing the book and lyrics for On the Town — and, later, the screenplay for its film adaptation — including "New York, New York," so amusingly performed by Mark Indelicato in a recent episode of Ugly Betty. And that was just the beginning. Bells Are Ringing, Wonderful Town, Applause, Singin’ in the Rain, the big-screen version of Auntie Mame…each of those classic musicals contained Comden’s stamp. She went on to win seven Tony awards, and scored Oscar nominations for The Band Wagon and It’s Always Fair Weather. If you get a few spare minutes today, the folks at Overwhelmed and Perplexed have posted three tracks from Blossom Dearie Sings Comden and Green, including a particularly lovely rendition of "Hold Me, Hold Me, Hold Me," while a YouTube search yields Shirley Bassey’s outsize take on "The Party’s Over." Mournful as that latter tune may be, in Comden’s case, thanks to her vast repertoire of songs, the party carries on.

addCredit(“Comden & Green: Hulton Archive/Getty Images”)

Comments (6 total) Add your comment
  • Marion

    Another golden age loss. Thank you for the tribute, Michael.

  • Winn

    Thank you so much for acknowledging this, Michael. Any of us who love and appreciate the golden age of Broadway and Hollywood musicals will bow our heads for the passing of an extraordinary talent, who along with her partner Green gave us some of the loveliest and most memorable songs in the American canon.

  • Ed

    Hi Anna!

  • MK

    She was an incredible talent with a great sense of humor and humanity. One of the few really successful, creative, behind-the-scenes women I was aware of while growing up in the 70s. (Even though her career started decades before that.) She will be missed.

  • Leslie

    She was so wonderful – talented and gracious! I actually met her and Adolph Green once after a show at Kennedy Center in Washington, DC in the early 1990’s and they were both very kind, funny and humble. I hope that she and Adolph are gathered around Leonard Bernstein’s piano in heaven and that they are having a wonderful party.

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