A child prodigy, accompanist, and renowned composer for Broadway, films, television, and radio, Jule Styne has penned the music for some of America's best-loved and most enduring songs, including "Anchors Aweigh," "Let It Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow," and "People." One of the most prolific songwriter/composers in American theater, Styne specialized in creating songs especially suited for particular Broadway divas like Carol Channing and Barbara Streisand. Working closely with Frank Loesser and Sammy Cahn through the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, he also penned many movie songs. In 1954, he shared an Oscar for the title song "Three Coins in the Fountain." He later earned a Tony for Hallelujah Baby!, a New York Drama Critics Circle award, and two Grammys.
Born Julius Kerwin Stein in London, he was still a child when he and his family emigrated to the U.S. A prodigy who had recieved classical training since early childhood, by age eight Styne was a gifted concert pianist and occasional soloist with the Chicago Symphony. After further studies at the Chicago College of Music, he played with various bands and accompanied such stars as Fanny Brice, Helen Morgan, and Al Jolson, for whom Styne wrote the song "Sunday" in 1926. In 1931, Styne formed his own band. By mid-decade he was a noted vocal arranger and was working in Hollywood as a songwriter and voice teacher to stars such as Shirley Temple and Alice Faye. During this period in Tinseltown, Styne made a name for himself with his upbeat, memorable tunes. In addition to working with Frank Loesser and Cahn, Styne frequently worked with such lyricists as Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Bob Merrill, Susan Birkenhead, and Stephen Sondheim. It was with the last that he created the memorable songs for the Broadway staple Gypsy. Originally starring Ethel Merman as the ultimate stage mother, Styne wrote the song "Rose's Turn" especially for her. For Carol Channing, who played Lorelei Lee in the 1949 production of Gentleman Prefer Blondes, he penned the sparkling "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend," which later became one of Marilyn Monroe's most famous songs, as well as a hit for Barbara Streisand. For Streisand, he penned such energetic tunes as "Don't Rain on My Parade" (with lyricist Bob Merrill) in her breakout show Funny Girl. Shortly before his death of heart failure on September 20, 1994, Jule Styne was working on a revival of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut.