|Birth Day:||July 10, 1931|
|Birth Place:||New York City, United States|
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He attended the University of Miami, where he composed his first musical called "Sketchbook" to great acclaim and popular demand.
After graduation from the University of Miami, Herman moved to New York City, where he produced the Off-Broadway revue I Feel Wonderful, which was made up of material he had written at the University. It opened at the Theatre de Lys in Greenwich Village on October 18, 1954, and ran for 48 performances. It was his only show his mother saw; she died of cancer at the age of forty-four in December 1954. Herman said "I went into serious grieving."
In 1957, Herman approached the owner of a West Fourth Street jazz club called the Showplace and asked to put on a revue. As well as supplying the music, Herman wrote the book and directed the one-hour revue, called Nightcap. He asked his friend, Phyllis Newman, to do movement and dance and it featured Charles Nelson Reilly (who later co-starred in Hello, Dolly!). The show opened in May 1958 and ran for two years.
Herman next collected enough original material to put together an Off-Broadway revue called Parade in 1960. Herman directed with choreography by Richard Tone. The cast included Charles Nelson Reilly and Dody Goodman. It first opened at the Showplace and, expanded, moved to the Players Theatre in January 1960.
In 1960, Herman made his Broadway debut with the revue From A to Z, which featured contributions from newcomers Woody Allen and Fred Ebb as well. That same year producer Gerard Oestreicher approached him after seeing a performance of "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 full-fledged Broadway musical, Milk and Honey in 1961. The show, about American tourists in Israel, starred Robert Weede, Mimi Benzell and Molly Picon. It received respectable reviews, was nominated for a Tony award, and ran for 543 performances.
Herman met playwright Tad Mosel in 1960 and they collaborated on an Off-Broadway musical adaptation of Mosel's 1953 television play, Madame Aphrodite. The musical of the same name, which starred Nancy Andrews in the title role, opened at the Orpheum Theatre in December 1961 but closed after 13 performances. A cast album was recorded, but the show has never been performed since. The failure of the musical hurt Herman, who felt that the direction and casting had not worked, but described his decision to make it as a "very brave thing for me to do...It was a dark piece, something more suited to early Sondheim than me".
In 1964, producer David Merrick united Herman with musical actress Carol Channing and librettist Michael Stewart for a project that was to become one of his more 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, a record that remained unbroken for 37 years, until The Producers won 12 Tonys in 2001.
Many of Herman's show tunes have become pop standards. "Hello, Dolly!" was a #1 hit in the United States for Louis Armstrong, knocking The Beatles from #1 in 1964 after a 14-week run at the top ("I Want to Hold Your Hand", "She Loves You", and "Can't Buy Me Love."). A French recording by Petula Clark charted in the Top Ten in both Canada and France.
In 1966, Herman's next musical was the hit Mame starring Angela Lansbury, which introduced a string of Herman standards, most notably the ballad "If He Walked Into My Life", the holiday favorite "We Need a Little Christmas", and the title tune.
"If He Walked into My Life" from Mame was recorded by Eydie Gormé, winning her a Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance, Female in 1967. "I Am What I Am" from La Cage aux Folles was recorded by Gloria Gaynor.
Other honors include the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre, named after him by the University of Miami. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1982.
In 1983, Herman had his third hit with La Cage aux Folles starring George Hearn and Gene Barry, a show that was notable for being one of the first hit Broadway musicals centered around a gay couple. The musical was tried out in Boston, where Herman worried:
Herman was diagnosed HIV-positive in 1985. As noted in the "Words and Music" PBS documentary, "He is one of the fortunate ones who survived to see experimental drug therapies take hold and was still, as one of his lyrics proclaims, 'alive and well and thriving' over quarter of a century later."
Herman was born in Manhattan and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey, the only child of musically-inclined, middle-class Jewish parents. He learned to play piano at an early age, and the three frequently attended Broadway musicals. His father, Harry, was a gym teacher and in the summer worked in the Catskill Mountains hotels. His mother, Ruth (Sachs), also worked in the hotels as a singer, pianist, and children's teacher, and eventually became an English teacher. Herman told People Magazine in 1986 that his mother, who died in 1954, long before his success on Broadway, "was glamorous like Mame and witty like Dolly."
In 1989, American-playwright Natalie Gaupp wrote a short play titled "The Jerry Herman Center." The play is a comedy which portrays the lives of several patients in "The Jerry Herman Center for Musical Theatre Addiction." In 2012, Jason Graae and Faith Prince collaborated on The Prince and the Showboy, a show which pays tribute to Herman; Graae worked extensively with Herman and described him as "a survivor of the highest degree [who] lives his life as an eternal optimist."
A 90-minute documentary about his life and career, Words and Music by Jerry Herman by filmmaker Amber Edwards, was screened in 2007 and then broadcast on PBS. In the 2008 animated film WALL-E, Herman's music from Hello, Dolly! is a theme for the character WALL-E.
In 2010, he received a Kennedy Center Honor. Introduced by Angela Lansbury, there were performances by Carol Channing, Matthew Morrison, Christine Barasnki and Christine Ebersole, Laure Benalti, Sutton Foster, Matthew Bomer and Kelli O' Hara, 2002 Kennedy Center Honoree Chita Rivera, an unknown choir, and Lansbury. Also honored were talk show host/actress Oprah Winfrey, dancer/choreographer Bill T. Jones, country singer/songwriter Merle Haggard, and singer/songwriter/musician Paul McCartney.
Having a flair for decorating in the 1970s, Herman took a break from composition after the failure of Mack and Mabel. Architectural Digest wrote about the firehouse he renovated. Then he redecorated other houses and sold them. According to the Washington Post he decorated three dozen homes. Herman reportedly listed his 4,088-square-foot (379.8 m) West Hollywood condominium apartment for sale early in 2013.
Herman died at a hospital in Miami on December 26, 2019, at age 88.
Currently, Jerry Herman is 90 years, 3 months and 15 days old. Jerry Herman will celebrate 91st birthday on a Sunday 10th of July 2022.
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