To Broadway, to Life! The Musical Theater of Bock and Harnick

By Philip Lambert | Go to book overview

3
POLITICS AND POKER
THE BODY BEAUTIFUL AND FIORELLO!
AND THE LATE 1950S

Bock had “no thought of working together” when he and Harnick first met in June 1956. Harnick, however, had hoped to be considered for the job as lyricist for Mr. Wonderful a year or so earlier and had recently seen and admired Eydie Gormé’s performance of Bock’s “Too Close for Comfort” on television.1 He was well aware of Bock’s work and “envious” that Bock had already done a book show—a substantial part of one, at least—and eager to find a new collaborator for a large project.2Harnick had also signed on with Tommy Valando, the publisher with whom Bock, Holofcener, and Weiss had had contracts for several years.3 The personal and professional orbits of Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick were finally overlapping. They were each in search of work and partnership, and the time was right for them to enter a new phase in their professional lives.


THE BODY BEAUTIFUL

The idea for a musical about boxing began with Joseph Stein and Will Glickman sometime in 1955 or 1956, when they were still involved with Mr. Wonderful. They had immediately secured the support of producer Richard Kollmar, who had also co-produced their successful musical Plain and Fancy in 1955. At some point Albert Selden became a co-producer. After Stein and Glickman completed a first draft of a libretto, they began looking for songwriters to complete the creative team. They may have considered Albert Hague and Arnold B. Horwitt, who wrote music and lyrics for Plain and Fancy. They apparently did offer the job to the Mr. Wonderful trio, but Holofcener did not want to revive the tension of that experience, and Bock and Weiss also decided to go their separate ways. The impetus to team Jerry Bock with Sheldon Harnick came from a convergence of several forces. Stein knew and

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