Jack Lawrence, Songwriter

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Jack LawrenceJack Lawrence was born in Brooklyn, April 7, 1912 and grew up in an orthodox Jewish family of modest means as the third of four sons. With practically no musical training he began writing songs at a tender age. Due to parental pressure after he graduated Thomas Jefferson High School, he enrolled in the First Institute of Podiatry and matriculated with a doctorate in 1932, the same year that saw the publication of his first song. With that he forsook the practice of podiatry and a career was born.

Jack Lawrence has had a long and distinguished career in the world of entertainment since his first song, "Play Fiddle Play," an international hit, earned him membership in the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers at the tender age of 20. He was the youngest member to be accepted by ASCAP at the time. Years later he was also among the first writers to be inducted into the National Songwriters Hall of Fame. For many years he has also held memberships in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, (Oscar Awards) and the Dramatist's Guild of America.

Many of his songs to which he wrote both words and music or just lyrics have been used in important stage and film productions and have been responsible for creating overnight stars. One such song was "Yes, My Darling Daughter," which introduced Dinah Shore to the public via Eddie Cantor's weekly program and was her very first recording. Another song was "If I Didn't Care" which was recorded by the then unknown Ink Spots and catapulted them to instant fame. When he stepped forward as a solo singer Frank Sinatra's first big hit recording was Jack's "All Or Nothing At All." Rosemary Clooney's career was sparked by her record of "Tenderly" and Bobby Darin will be forever associated with "Beyond The Sea."

Many of his other evergreens still being played and sung after these many years are listed elsewhere in this website. All of his works have had recordings by such legendary artists at Nat Cole, Bing Crosby, The Andrews Sisters, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett and Billie Holiday. In fact, it would be difficult to name a star of the 30's through the 50's who had not sung or recorded one of Lawrence's songs. His music has touched every part of the world, his musicals have played Broadway and his film songs have come from every major Hollywood studio. His song "Hold My Hand" from the film "Susan Slept Here" was nominated for an Oscar in 1954.

In the 80's, Jack Lawrence was also actively engaged as a Broadway producer and theater owner; his two theaters in the Broadway district were named the "Jack Lawrence" and the "Audrey Wood". He was co-producer of off-Broadway's long running success, "Other People's Money" and on Broadway with "Lena Horne, The Lady And Her Music", and "Come Back To The 5 And Dime, Jimmy Dean" (which introduced Cher and Kathy Bates to Broadway and sent them on to screen fame. Along with his song writing he has had a varied and well-rounded career in the world of entertainment.

Throughout the years, Lawrence's interest in creative arts led to his acquisition of an important collection of Greek, Chinese, Japanese, Luristan, Roman, African and Pre-Columbian artifacts which he found on his many trips around the world. Added to all this were significant paintings and sculptures by such artists as Georgia O'Keeffe, Jules Pascin, Ben Shahn, Kuniyoshi, John Marin, Charles Sheeler, Jacob Epstein, Charles Demuth, Diego Rivera, Tamayo, Stuart Davis, Lyn Chadwick, Morris Graves and William Harnett. He served on the board of the Whitney Museum of American Art and arranged tours of his art collection throughout the United States and Europe, including the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Jack also discovered and sponsored the first New York showing of a Chilean artist Claudio Bravo, who has become internationally famous.

Jack has also served on the board and is a charter member of Friends Of The Israel Museum along with another songwriter, Billy Rose. They helped create the incomparable National Museum in Jerusalem, where Jack's name will be inscribed. His endowments have also benefited the Manhattan School of Music and in Connecticut, where he now resides, the Danbury Hospital and the Mark Twain Library.

In a survey done by Public Radio in 2002 that concluded with a list of 100 of the most prestigious musical works of the past century, with such blockbusters as Star Dust and Rhapsody In Blue, Lawrence and Altman's "All or Nothing At All" (by virtue of the alphabet) led the list. That same year Michael Feinstein honored Jack in a tribute to his career at the Weill auditorium in Carnegie Hall and a best seller by Gottleib and Kimball titled "Reading Lyrics", included seven of Jack's songs.

In April 2003, Broadway Decca re-released the original cast album of Jack's and Stan Freeman's "I Had A Ball" and Jack concluded his autobiographical memoirs, ready for print and titled:

Patty, Maxene and LaVerne

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