[Dixielandjazz] Jack Lawrence, Writer Of Hit Songs, Dies At 96

Robert Ringwald rsr at ringwald.com
Sat Mar 21 01:47:03 PDT 2009

Jack Lawrence, Writer Of Hit Songs, Dies At 96
Published: March 18, 2009
Link To This Obituary:
Jack Lawrence, a reluctant podiatrist who chose to do what he had always 
wanted to
do as a kid in early-20th-century Brooklyn, write lyrics for songs (many of 
became hits), died Sunday in Danbury, Conn. He was 96 and lived in West 
The cause was renal failure and complications of a fall at his home, his 
son, Richard,
Mr. Lawrence's biggest hits, with lyrics that tend toward the dreamy, 
romantic and
simple, include:
If I Didn't Care," for which he wrote both the lyrics and music and which, 
in 1939,
became the Ink Spots's first hit.
"All or Nothing at All," with music by Arthur Altman, a No. 1 song in 1943 
Frank Sinatra
, with the
Harry James
"Linda," for which Mr. Lawrence wrote the lyrics and the music, a No. 1 hit 
in 1947
for Buddy Clark that was successfully reprised by Jan and Dean in 1963.
And "Tenderly," with music by Walter Gross, which hit the charts in 1947 
when sung
by Sarah Vaughan and again in 1952 when it helped re-ignite
Rosemary Clooney
's career.
Mr. Lawrence made it big with his first published song, "Play, Fiddle, 
 Play," in
1932, the same year he graduated from podiatry school. It convinced him that 
career could rise higher than the human foot. Though he had almost no 
musical training,
he had written songs as a boy and went to podiatry school only because of 
pressure," he wrote in an autobiographical sketch.
Though he was mostly a lyricist, he wrote both the words and the music for 
My Darling Daughter," made famous in 1940 by Dinah Shore.
"If I Didn't Care," sung by the Ink Spots, became so recognizable in the 
early 1940s
that it was spoofed by
Glenn Miller
's band in his wartime hit record "Juke Box Saturday Night."
Mr. Lawrence wrote new words to a popular French song called "La Mer," by 
Lasry and Charles Trenet; it became a hit in 1948 as "Beyond the Sea." The 
version by Percy Faith was popular, but
Bobby Darin
 made a bigger hit of it in 1959 with an up-tempo version using Mr. Lawrence's 
Born Jack Lawrence Schwartz in Brooklyn on April 7, 1912, Mr. Lawrence was 
the third
of four sons of Barney and Fanny Goldman Cherniafsky, who had immigrated 
from Ukraine
in 1902. Immigration officials on Ellis Island changed their last name. When 
he started
publishing songs, Mr. Lawrence dropped his last name.
Mr. Lawrence graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School, then earned a 
degree from the First Institute of Podiatry (now the New York College of 
Medicine) in 1932. That same year, "Play, Fiddle, Play" was published; in 
1933 it
was featured in the film comedy "Dinner at Eight" and became quite popular.
During World War II, Mr. Lawrence served in the Coast Guard and later, at 
his request,
was transferred to the United States merchant marine. After the war, he went 
to Hollywood,
where he wrote songs for a number of movies. "Hold My Hand," written with 
Myers for "Susan Slept Here," was nominated for an Oscar as best song in 
In 1979, Mr. Lawrence adopted his partner, Richard Debnam; he is Mr. 
Lawrence's only
Lyrics sometimes came to Mr. Lawrence from his day-to-day encounters. One 
afternoon in the late '30s, while sitting on a park bench in New York, he 
a nearby couple snared in a lovers' quarrel.
"You don't love me," the girl said. "If I didn't care," the boy replied, 
then offered
a litany of reasons to trust his intentions. So began the Ink Spots' hit.

--Bob Ringwald K6YBV
rsr at ringwald.com
916/806-9551 Cell
Fulton Street Jazz Band

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