Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Raised by musically-inclined parents, Herman learned to play piano at an early age, and the three frequently attended Broadway musicals. His summers were spent in the Berkshire Mountains at Stissing Lake Camp, which was run by his parents, both teachers. There, he first became involved in theatrical production, as director of the camp's productions of Finian's Rainbow and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
At the age of seventeen, Herman was introduced to Frank Loesser who, after hearing material he had written, urged him to continue composing. He left the Parsons School of Design to attend the University of Miami, which has one of the nation's most avant garde theater departments.
After graduation from the University of Miami, Herman moved into musical theatre in New York City, producing the off-Broadway revue I Feel Wonderful, which was comprised of material he had written at the University of Miami. It opened at the Theatre de Lys in Greenwich Village on October 18, 1954 and ran for forty-eight performances. It was his only show his mother was able to see; shortly after it opened, she died of cancer at the age of forty-four, and Herman spent the next year in deep mourning, seriously depressed.
In an attempt to break loose from his grief, Herman eventually collected enough original material to put together a revue called Nightcap, which appeared in (1958). Choreographed by friend Phyllis Newman, and with a cast that included Charles Nelson Reilly (who later co-starred in Hello Dolly!), it opened at a tiny New York City jazz club called the Showplace. Critical raves and glowing word-of-mouth kept the show running for two years.
In 1960, producer Gerard Oestreicher approached Herman after seeing a performance of his revue Parade, and asked if he would be interested in composing the score for a show about the founding of the state of Israel. The result was his first Broadway production, Milk and Honey, which appeared in (1961). It received respectable reviews and ran for 543 performances.
In 1964, producer David Merrick united Herman with Carol Channing for a project that was to become one of his most successful, Hello Dolly!. The original production ran for 2,844 performances, the longest running musical for its time, and was later revived three times. Although facing stiff competition from Funny Girl, Hello, Dolly! swept the Tony Awards that season, winning 10 Tonys, a record that remained unbroken for 37 years, until The Producers won 12 Tonys in 2001.
Herman went on to compose several more shows including the very successful Mame starring Angela Lansbury, and La Cage aux Folles starring George Hearn and Gene Barry. Although not a commercial success, Dear World starring Angela Lansbury, Mack & Mabel starring Robert Preston and Bernadette Peters, and The Grand Tour starring Joel Grey are noted for their interesting concepts and their melodic, memorable scores. Both Dear World and Mack & Mabel have developed a cult following among Broadway aficionados.
Many of Jerry Herman's showtunes have become standards and are presented regularly on television, in film, on stage, and are recorded by many of the world's most notable singers. His most famous composition, "Hello, Dolly!", is the single most popular song to have ever originated from a Broadway musical score and was a #1 hit in the United States for Louis Armstrong, knocking The Beatles off the charts in 1964. A French recording by Petula Clark charted in the Top Ten in both Canada and France. Another famous Herman song, the ballad "If He Walked into My Life" from Mame, was recorded by Eydie Gormé, becoming a pop standard and winning a Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance, Female in 1967. Other well known Herman showtunes include "Shalom", "Before the Parade Passes By", "Put On Your Sunday Clothes", "It Only Takes a Moment", "It's Today!", "Open a New Window", "We Need a Little Christmas", "Mame", "Bosom Buddies", "I Won't Send Roses", "Time Heals Everything", "I Am What I Am", and "The Best of Times".
Jerry Herman is the only composer/lyricist in history to have three musicals run more than 1500 performances on Broadway: Hello Dolly! (2,844), Mame (1,508), and La Cage aux Folles (1,761). His songs have been subject of two popular musical revues: Jerry's Girls (Broadway, 1985), and Showtune (off-Broadway, 2003).
Herman's autobiography, Showtune: A Memoir by Jerry Herman (with Marilyn Stasio), was published by Donald I. Fine Books, an imprint of Penguin Books, in 1996.
- I Feel Wonderful (1954)
- Nightcap (1958)
- Parade (1960)
- From A to Z (1960)
- Showtune Celebrating the music and lyrics of Jerry Herman (2003)
- Milk and Honey (with Molly Picon) (1961)
- Hello, Dolly! (with Carol Channing) (1964)
- Ben Franklin in Paris (with Robert Preston) (1964) (additional music)
- Mame (with Angela Lansbury) (1966)
- Dear World (with Angela Lansbury) (1969)
- Mack & Mabel (with Robert Preston and Bernadette Peters) (1974)
- Hello, Dolly! (1st Broadway revival with Carol Channing) (1975)
- Hello, Dolly! (2nd Broadway revival with Carol Channing) (1978)
- The Grand Tour (with Joel Grey) (1979)
- A Day in Hollywood / A Night in the Ukraine (1980) (additional music)
- Mame (1st Broadway revival with Angela Lansbury) (1983)
- La Cage aux Folles (with George Hearn and Gene Barry) (1983)
- Jerry's Girls (1985)
- Hello, Dolly! (3rd Broadway revival with Carol Channing) (1995)
- Mack & Mabel (revised version, London) (1995)
- An Evening with Jerry Herman (1998)
- La Cage aux Folles (1st Broadway revival with Gary Beach and Daniel Davis) (2004)
- Hello, Dolly! (1969) starring Barbra Streisand
- Mame (1974) starring Lucille Ball
- Barney's Great Adventure (1998)
- Mrs. Santa Claus (with Angela Lansbury) (1996)
- Miss Spectacular - recorded but unproduced (2002)
- Barbara Cook's Broadway - 2004 concert included songs by Herman
Awards and Nominations
- 1999 Theatre World Special Award (An Evening with Jerry Herman) (winner)
- 1984 Tony Award for Best Original Score (La Cage aux Folles) (winner)
- 1979 Tony Award for Best Original Score (The Grand Tour) (nominee)
- 1966 Tony Award for Best Composer and Lyricist (Mame) (nominee)
- 1964 Tony Award for Best Composer and Lyricist (Hello, Dolly!) (winner)
- 1962 Tony Award for Best Composer (Milk and Honey) (nominee)
Showtune: A Memoir by Jerry Herman (with Marilyn Stasio), published by Donald I. Fine Books, an imprint of Penguin Books, 1996.
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