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Harold Adamson would probably have preferred acting in motion pictures to writing songs for them. Although he experimented with verse writing while in prep school, his ambition was to become a thespian. While a student at the University of Kansas, he gained experience on the boards by performing in summer stock. On transferring to Harvard University, he landed roles in the Hasty Pudding Club Shows. Harold may have been inspired a little by his uncle Ernest Martin chief camera engineer at Vitaphone and Vitagraph. Mr. Martin was the electrical engineer for many Rudolph Valentino movies. In 1926 Martin set up the electrical work for the very first sound movie Don Juan staring John Barrymore.
Ten years later, Harold would write songs for two movies staring Lionel and John Barrymore. Like many artists who trained for other careers, Adamson's plans were changed by the unexpected success of a song.
In Adamson's case, the composition was "Time On My Hands" for which he wrote the lyrics in conjunction with Mack Gordon. Adamson was barely out of college when the song was introduced in Florenz Ziegfeld's Broadway production Smiles in 1930. That same year, his work was heard in Earl Carroll's Vanities. After three more stage musicals, the 27-year-old lyricist was lured to the cinema capital by an offer from Metro-Goldwyn- Mayer. Bruce Adamson has written and produced an 58 minute documentary on Hal's career. Narratored by Wes Sims of Channel 46 Monterey Bay.
Photograph of Jimmy McHugh, Frank Sinatra and Harold signed by Sinatra "Bruce, All the Best. Frank Sinatra 1989." Taken at the time Sinatra won his First Academy Award nomination by McHugh and Hal's song I Couldn't Sleep A Wink Last Night. Click Here for Sinatra Letter 1988.
One of the most popular stars under contract to MGM was Joan Crawford. Harold Adamson's first assignment for the studio was Crawford's Dancing Lady (1933) co-starring Clark Gable. The film's score included numbers by other lyricists, but it was Adamson's "Everything I have Is Yours" that audiences remembered. The next year, he worked on Fox's Bottoms Up starring Spencer Tracy; on RKO's Strictly Dynamite, in which Lupe Velez and Jimmy Durante appeared; and, working on loan to United Artists, on the Eddie Cantor vehicle Kid Millions.
The first of Adamson's songs to place on the new radio program called "Your Hit Parade" was "Everything's Been Done Before" sung by Jean Harlow in the 1935 movie Reckless. Harlow also introduced "Did I Remember" which was nominated for the Academy Award in 1936 in the film Suzy. In this movie one will catch a very rare glimpse of Cary Grant singing Harold's song. Just before production started, studio head Louis B. Mayer gave Jean Harlow a $5,000 bonus, primarily in recognition of the surprising profits on her previous film, Suzy (1936), which had brought in three times its cost. Harold and Walter Donaldson had collaborated on the song "You" Which was in Harlow's second to last film Libeled Lady. I believe her last song sung for the film industry "You." Tidbit Lionel Barrymore was replaced in film. Libeled Lady was nominated for Best Picture.yet Harold's other film "The Great Zigfield" won the Oscar for best film.
After a dozen films at MGM, Adamson signed with Universal, where he supplied Alice Faye and Deanna Durbin with two more "Hit Parade" favorites-- "You're a Sweetheart" and "My Own", which brought the lyricist his second bid for the Oscar in 1938.
Marilyn Monroe worshiped Jean Harlow. Hal wrote several of Harlow's last songs while she walked this earth. Harlow was the godmother of the daughter of Bugsy Siegel. Bugsy is noted as being the founder of Las Vegas. Hal was hired by Howard Hughes' to write two songs for The Las Vegas Story. It was Hughes who produced Jean Harlow's Hells Angels. Clark Gable who was in Hal's first film was the leading man in Monroe and Harlow's last films.
In 1948 Hal wrote the lyrics for the song "Rock, Rock, Rock" a Michael Todd production for Broadway. In the 1930s he wrote the lyrics for the song: Hilo Hattie. To the right we see Elvis Presley in the film Blue Hawaii with Hilo Hattie. This was a decade after Hal wrote Hilo Hattie for Hattie and ten years after Rock, Rock Rock. In Hattie's autobiography she said that this song made her career.
During the years of World War II, Adamson's film songs "I Couldn't Sleep a Wink Last Night," "A Lovely Way To Spend an Evening," "Daybreak," "How Blue the Night," and "I Don't Care Who Knows It" all made the weekly surveys of America's ten top tunes. Harold wrote the lyrics to Hilo Hattie in the early 1940s. Hal competed in the annual Oscar derbys for the third and the fourth times when "Change of Heart" (from Hit Parade of 1943) and "I Couldn't Sleep a Wink Last Night" (From Higher and Higher) were in the running. This song was Frank Sinatra's first Academy Award nominating song.
In WWII Hal was given awards from the Department of War, for writing patriotic songs for movies and hits such as "Comin' in on a Wing and a Prayer" and Bing Crosby's "Buy a Bond". Hal wrote the song "There's A New Flag on Ima Jima."
Adamson's success continued after the war and he provided lyrics for Susan Hayward in Smash-Up (1947), Jane Powell, Carmen Miranda and Elizabeth Taylor in A Date with Judy (1948), Hal wrote songs for four films that Carmen Miranda appeared in.
Would you like to hear Marilyn Monroe sing? She sang Hal's song "When Love Goes Wrong, Nothing Goes Right."
Jane Russell in His Kind of Woman (1951), Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953). ** In 1956, he added words to Victor Young's main theme from Around the World in 80 Days, and it became the eighth of his inventions to top "Your Hit Parade." Victor Young had received 22 Oscar nominations before winning an Oscar for Around the World in 80 Days, six months after Young had died. Harold could not be nominated because he wrote the lyrics two weeks before Oscar night.
Doris Day sung the Oscar nominating song "Que Sera Sera"Whatever Will Be Will Be, also a great song. Four years later ironically Doris Day sung the same song to David Niven in the film Please Don't Eat the Daisies. Niven is best remembered for the film Around the World in 80 Days. The Radio and T.V. Association of America nominated Harold's song: Around the World in 80 Days "Hit Record of the Year," a great honor in itself.
In 1957 Adamson received his fifth Oscar nomination for writing the lyrics with Leo McCarey to An Affair To Remember. Adamson however, his most prolific piece of work is the lyrics for the theme song to "I Love Lucy".
"I Love Lucy and she loves me, We're as happy as two can be, Sometimes we quarrel but then, How we love making up again. Lucy kisses like no one can, She's my missus and I'm her man, and life is heaven you see, Cause I LOVE LUCY, Yes, I LOVE LUCY and LUCY loves me..." Harold Adamson
For Johnny Green's career click here.
Harold Adamson was born in Greenville, New Jersey, in 1906 and was 73 at the time of his death in 1980..
When Hal Adamson died 30 years ago on August 17, 1980 at the service Johnny Green played in memory of Hal the piano at the Church in Beverly Hills. Green is remembered for his great music and conducting in the film "West Side Story." Other great films Green worked as the musican conductor was Bye Bye Birdie and Oliver. Green won Oscars for both Oliver and West Side Story. He was nominated for Bye Bye Birdie. As the nephew, I remembered shaking his hands of Mr. Green and Merton Berle. Meeting our cousin Meg Foster. Hal and Johnny Green had worked together during World War II in the film "Bathing Beauty," with Esther Williams and Red Skelton.
An Affair to Remember, Bruce playing with sister in Harold's backyard at 704 North Alpine, Beverly Hills in 1959, Hal looking on. Not far away a few blocks Frank Sinatra had a home. Next door was Donna Reed, both Reed and Sinatra won Oscars in 1953 about seven years earlier. For From Here to Eternity. Rings a bell with Hal. In the summer of 1981-82 my aunt Gretchen went on vacation and allowed me to house sit for three months. Everyday was a hot summer day and I would jog all around the bordering parks in Beverly Hills. One of the days Sean Penn and Timothy Hutton came over for a swim. 21 years after the photo to the left was taken.
Eve Adamson -- Harold's daughter died at age 68 on Oct. 8th, 2006. Tennesse Williams said of Eve "She directed the best version of Cat on A Hot Tin Roof he had ever seen," on stage.
Eve Adamson's obituaryNew York Times obituary click here.\
Eric Reed Program at Kennedy Center here. On December 10, 2006 Harold would have been 100 years old.
Behind Every Great Man There is a
Great Woman, Behind Harold Adamson
was Gretchen. Please visit the memorial to my Aunt Gretchen Adamson,
(Mrs. Harold Adamson), who died at 7:55pm August 2, 2002 here.
Bruce Campbell Adamson produced both a 28 and 58 minute documentary "Our Pal Hal; An Affair To Remember.".