Loesser, Frank

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Loesser, Frank

Frank Loesser (Frank Henry Loesser), 1910–69, American lyricist and songwriter, b. New York City. He is noted for smart, often witty lyrics that catch the tone and rhythms of vernacular speech. Loesser rejected the classical music training of his pianist father and brother and began writing show tunes during the year he spent at New York's City College. He moved to Hollywood in 1936 and from the late 1930s to the early 50s wrote songs for dozens of films. Among his earliest movie hits was "Two Sleepy People" (1938; written with Hoagy Carmichael). While a soldier in World War II he begin writing music in addition to words for such songs as "Praise the Lord, and Pass the Ammunition." Loesser won an Oscar for "Baby, It's Cold Outside" (1949) and wrote the score for his last movie musical, Hans Christian Andersen, in 1952. His first Broadway hit came with the score for Where's Charley? (1948; film, 1952) and he struck Broadway gold with the scores for Guys and Dolls (1950; film, 1955); The Most Happy Fella (1956), for which he also wrote the book; and How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying (1962, Pulitzer Prize; film, 1967).

See his biography by his daughter, S. Loesser (1993, repr. 2001); The Frank Loesser Songbook (1994); R. Kimball and S. Nelson, ed., The Complete Lyrics of Frank Loesser (2003).

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