[Dixielandjazz] Jack Lawrence, Writer Of Hit Songs, Dies At 96
rsr at ringwald.com
Sat Mar 21 01:47:03 PDT 2009
Jack Lawrence, Writer Of Hit Songs, Dies At 96
By RICHARD SEVERO, New York Times
Published: March 18, 2009
Link To This Obituary:
Jack Lawrence, a reluctant podiatrist who chose to do what he had always
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
Mr. Lawrence's biggest hits, with lyrics that tend toward the dreamy,
If I Didn't Care," for which he wrote both the lyrics and music and which,
became the Ink Spots's first hit.
"All or Nothing at All," with music by Arthur Altman, a No. 1 song in 1943
, with the
"Linda," for which Mr. Lawrence wrote the lyrics and the music, a No. 1 hit
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
by Sarah Vaughan and again in 1952 when it helped re-ignite
Mr. Lawrence made it big with his first published song, "Play, Fiddle,
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
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
that it was spoofed by
'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
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
of four sons of Barney and Fanny Goldman Cherniafsky, who had immigrated
in 1902. Immigration officials on Ellis Island changed their last name. When
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
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
was transferred to the United States merchant marine. After the war, he went
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.
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,
a litany of reasons to trust his intentions. So began the Ink Spots' hit.
--Bob Ringwald K6YBV
rsr at ringwald.com
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