Lorenz Hart: A Poet on Broadway

by Frederick Nolan
Hardcover: 390 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.25 x 9.50 x 6.50
Paperback: 420 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.09 x 9.17 x 6.10
Publisher: Oxford University Press; (December 1994)
ISBN: 0195068378 (hardcover) 0195102894 (paperback)

  1. Max and Frida
  2. Love at First Sight
  3. A Lonely Romeo A Couple of College Kids
  4. Doldrums
  5. The Blond Beast
  6. Campfire Days
  7. The Brief Career of Herbert Richard Lorenz
  8. Guilding the Guild
  9. Crest of a Wave
  10. More Gaieties
  11. The Great Ziegfeld
  12. "One Dam Think After Another"
  13. A Great Big Beautiful Hit
  14. A Willing Ham of Dillingham
  15. Oscar Hammerstein Was Right
  16. Makes of Melody
  17. Wall Street Lays an Egg
  18. Ten Cents a Dance
  19. Hard times on Broadway
  20. Hollywood Bound
  21. A Jolson Story
  22. Goldwin's Folly
  23. Night Madness
  24. Yesterday's Man
  25. Billy Rose's Jumbo
  26. "The Saddest Men I Never Knew"
  27. Twice in a Lifetime
  28. "The biggest Opening Since The Grand Canyon"
  29. A Special After-dark Existence
  30. Musical Comedy Meets his Masters
  31. "If it's good Enough for Shakespeare.."
  32. The French have a world for It
  33. Bother And Bewildered
  34. I Could Have been A Genius
  35. Nobody's Heart
  36. To Keep My Love Alive
  37. What Have I Lived for?
A breezy and frank, yet exhaustively researched biography of Broadway's "Laureate of Lyrics," who, with Richard Rodgers, authored the hit musicals Pal Joey and On Your Toes, as well as a host of classic popular songs including "My Funny Valentine," "The Lady is a Tramp," and many others. When the 24-year-old Hart met the 16-year-old Rodgers, some said it was, for Hart, "love at first sight," though Rodgers claimed never to be aware of what Nolan calls Hart's "sexual ambivalence." From their big splash in 1925 with the hit song "Manhattan," through the innovative Pal Joey (1940) and their sort-of falling out in 1942 (which resulted in Rodgers teaming with Oscar Hammerstein to do Oklahoma!), the two set the standard for musical comedy on Broadway and in Hollywood. If Hart's homosexuality was, as Nolan claims, his "personal tragedy," drink and the high life were the means to his early death at 47 in 1943. Nolan's account of Hart's life provides a wonderful look at Broadway's Golden Age, and a quite readable, informal peak backstage. Unfortunately, his failure to secure permission to use Hart's lyrics leaves a hole in an otherwise fine effort.
Ron Antonucci - From Booklist

This revealing biography explores the life of one of Broadway's all-time greats, the brilliant lyricist who penned My Funny Valentine, Blue Moon and many other classics. As half of the legendary "Rodgers and Hart", Lorenz Hart lived a life of dizzying heights and crushing lows. Frederick Nolan captures them all in this intimate look at the lyrical genius.

Lorenz Hart singlehandedly changed the craft of lyric writing, transforming the commerical song lyric from one of tired clichés and cloying sentimentality to one with unexpected phrases that would twang the nerves or touch the heart. Endowed with both a buoyant wit and a tender sincerity, Hart brought a poetic complexity to his art penning such memorable hits as My Funny Valentine, Isn't It Romantic?, The Lady is a Tramp, and Blue Moon. Lorenz Hart: A Poet on Broadway presents the public triumphs of a true genius of the American musical theatre, and the personal tragedies of a man his friend Mabel Mercer described as "the saddest man I ever knew." A veritable who's who of Broadway's golden age, including Joshua Logan, Gene Kelly, George Abbott, and many more, recall their uncensored, often hilarious, sometimes poignant memories of the cigar-chomping wordsmith who composed some of the best lyrics ever concocted for the Broadway stage, but who remained forever lost and lonely in the crowds of hangers-on he attracted.

Skillfully pulling together the chaotic details of Hart's remarkable life, beginning with his bohemian upbringing in turn-of-the-century Harlem, through his early success with Richard Rodgers, and life in Hollywood in the Thirties. He goes on to look at Hart's final decade as one of the undisputed kings of Broadway while simultaneously his personal life disintegrated into a madness of alcohol and self-loathing. This rich work captures the excitement, the achievement, the dizzying heights, and the crushing lows of and American original.
"Exhilarating and moving."--John Kander, composer of Cabaret and The Kiss of the Spider Woman