Herman Known For 'Mame,' 'Hello Dolly!'
Jerry Herman, composer of hit Broadway plays like "Mame," "Hello Dolly!" and "La Cage Aux Folles," has died at 88.
Herman was born from the optimistic vein of storytelling show tunes writers, emulating the Rodgers and Hammerstein style. He was glad to hear people call his songs simple.
He told the Associated Press in 1995: "Critics have sort of tossed me off as the popular and not the cerebral writer, and that was fine with me. That was exactly what I aimed at.”
The 'Simple, Hummable Show Tune'
When he received a Tony for "La Cage Aux Folles," Herman said:
"This award forever shatters a myth about the musical theater. There's been a rumor around for a couple of years that the simple, hummable show tune was no longer welcome on Broadway. Well, it's alive and well at the Palace" (Theatre).
The quote caused some to think Herman was making a dig at Stephen Sondheim, who wrote much more complicated tunes.
But Herman denied it in a 2004 Q & A for Broadway.com:
"Only a small group of 'showbiz gossips' have constantly tried to create a feud between Mr. Sondheim and myself. I am as much of a Sondheim fan as you and everybody else in the world, and I believe that my comments upon winning the Tony for ‘La Cage’ clearly came from my delight with the show business community's endorsement of the simple melodic showtune which had been criticized by a few hard-nosed critics as being old fashioned."
Thousands Of Performances
Herman's first Tony nomination was for "Milk and Honey," on the founding of Israel. 1964's "Hello Dolly!" which starred Carol Channing, ran for 2,844 performances, which was a record at that time. "Hello Dolly!" won 10 Tonys.
"La Cage Aux Folles" ran for about 1,760 performances. It was an adaptation of the French movie about two gay men and the Riviera drag nightclub they own.
Herman had some failures as well -- "The Grand Tour," "Mack and Mabel" and "Dear World," though their effects lasted long after the curtain closed.
The British skating team Torvill and Dean later performed to an overture from 'Mack and Mabel." Their efforts earned them a gold medal in 1982.
Director Andrew Stanton used Herman's songs "It Only Takes a Moment" and "Put On Your Sunday Clothes" for his movie WALL-E.
As Herman's career waned, he still found success, contributing to the score for "Mrs. Santa Claus," a 1996 made for TV movie. For that, he was nominated for an Emmy.
His autobiography is called "Showtune."