Ebb, Fred

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1932-04-08
Death 2004-09-11
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

Lyricist and librettist, Fred Ebb (1928-2004) was best known for his long and successful partnership with composer John Kander.

Together, the team was responsible for a number of notable Broadway musicals, including Cabaret (1966), Chicago (1975), and Kiss of the Spider Woman (1993). A native New Yorker, Ebb attended New York University and Columbia University and by 1951 he had published his first songs. Ebb worked with several composers early on, including Mary Rodgers and Charles Strouse, but his primary collaborator throughout the 1950s was Paul Klein. Ebb was introduced to Kander in the early 1960s and their first Broadway musical was Flora, the Red Menace (1965). Over the next forty years, among Kander and Ebb's most frequent collaborators were Hal Prince, Liza Minnelli, Chita Rivera and Martin Scorsese. In addition to their extensive Broadway credits, Kander and Ebb provided songs for the Emmy Award winning television special, Liza with a Z (1972), and the films, Funny Lady (1975) and New York, New York (1977). Ebb's final original show to open on Broadway was Steel Pier (1997), but two other Kander and Ebb projects, The Visit and The Skin of Our Teeth (or Over and Over) had subsequent regional theatre productions and another Ebb project, Curtains, which also involved the librettist Peter Stone, was produced posthumously in 2006 at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.

From the description of Fred Ebb papers, 1927-2004. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 84682345

Fred Ebb was born in the Bronx on April 8, 1928. He grew up in New York and studied at New York University and Columbia University. By 1951, songs with Ebb lyrics were being published and one of his early efforts was recorded by Judy Garland. Ebb's primary collaborator throughout the 1950s was Paul Klein, though he worked with several composers, including Mary Rodgers and Charles Strouse. With Klein, Ebb wrote many songs, some of which were in the Broadway revue, From A to Z (1960) as well as several shows, including the 1963 off-Broadway production of Morning Sun .

In the early 1960s Ebb's publisher, Tommy Valando introduced him to John Kander, a young composer from Missouri. Kander and Ebb instantly clicked as friends and collaborators and their partnership proved the longest lasting composer/lyricist pairing in Broadway history. With the exceptions of various independent projects, such as incidental motion picture scores Kander wrote and performer's specialty act scripts Ebb wrote, Ebb and Kander were exclusive collaborators from My Coloring Book, their first hit song in 1962, until Ebb's death in 2004.

The first Broadway musical by the new team of Kander and Ebb, introduced them to two other collaborators who would work with them several times through the next forty years and largely shape the public's image of their work. Although George Abbott directed Flora, the Red Menace (1965) it was produced by Abbott's protege, Hal Prince and starred Liza Minnelli, in her Tony award-winning Broadway debut. The show only ran a few months, but it established Kander and Ebb's relationship with Prince, who directed and produced Cabaret, (1966) their next musical. Cabaret was a financial and critical success, running on Broadway for 1,165 performances and winning 8 Tony awards, including Best Score for Kander and Ebb and Best Musical, as well as being a ground-breaking work, often touted as a landmark in the history of the concept musical. Cabaret was also adapted into an acclaimed motion picture, directed by Bob Fosse in 1972, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture, as well as awards for the film's stars Joel Grey and Liza Minnelli. Cabaret continues to be an extremely popular musical and its most recent Broadway revival ran for 6 years.

Kander and Ebb followed up Cabaret with two moderately successful shows, both of which opened in 1968 and ran about 300 performances, The Happy Time, which won Tonys for director Gower Champion and star Robert Goulet and Zorba, which was directed by Prince. Their next piece, 70, Girls, 70 (1971) was an offbeat musical comedy that did not fare as well. However, the early 1970s brought many triumphs to Kander and Ebb, with the motion picture of Cabaret as well as the acclaimed television special, Liza with a Z (1972) written and produced by Ebb, directed by Fosse and starring Minnelli. The program included new Kander and Ebb songs, for which they received an Emmy Award.

Kander and Ebb's next Broadway show was one of their biggest successes, Chicago (1975). Though its success was somewhat eclipsed by that season's blockbuster, A Chorus Line, Chicago 's original production, directed by Fosse, starring Gwen Verdon, Chita Rivera and Jerry Orbach had a healthy run of 936 performances and was nominated for 11 Tony awards. A revival of Chicago, which originated in the Encores! Series hit Broadway in 1996 and as of this writing, was just passing the 4000-performance mark. This revival also inspired the Academy Award-winning hit motion picture adaptation of the show in 2002.

The Liza Minnelli vehicle, The Act (1977), which remains Martin Scorcese's only Broadway credit, was Kander and Ebb's next show. Around this time, they wrote songs for several motion pictures, including How Lucky Can You Get, the Oscar nominated song from Funny Lady (1975). They also wrote several songs for Scorcese’s New York, New York, (1977) which starred Minnelli and Robert DeNiro, including the title song, which is arguably Kander and Ebb's most famous song. Though Minnelli introduced the song in that film, a later recording by Frank Sinatra launched its tremendous popularity, which culminated in 1985, when the Mayor proclaimed it the Official Song of the City of New York.

In 1981, Kander and Ebb's score and stars Lauren Bacall and Marilyn Cooper won Tonys for Woman of the Year . This was followed by The Rink (1984), which starred Chita Rivera and Liza Minnelli. Their next show, Kiss of the Spiderwoman (1993) was another triumph starring Rivera. The show, which was directed by Hal Prince, ran 904 performances and won Tonys for its three stars, Rivera, Brent Carver and Anthony Crivello as well as for Kander and Ebb’s score and the musical itself. Ebb's final show to open on Broadway was Steel Pier (1997), but two other Kander and Ebb projects, The Visit and The Skin of Our Teeth / Over and Over, had regional theater productions after that. One project, Curtains, that Kander, Ebb and librettist Peter Stone worked on for 20 years, was produced after Ebb and Stone's deaths in 2006 at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.

Fred Ebb died of a heart attack on September 11, 2004 in New York, NY. On September 14, the lights of Broadway were dimmed in his honor.

From the guide to the Fred Ebb papers, 1927-2004, (The New York Public Library. Music Division.)

Dorothy Loudon (1925-2003) was a singer, comedienne and Tony Award-winning actress, who appeared in supper clubs, television shows, films, summer stock and on Broadway. She was born on September 25, 1925 in Boston, Massachusetts and grew up and attended high school in Claremont, New Hampshire. Her mother was a pianist, and her grandmother taught speech and drama at a private school in New England.

After attending Syracuse University, Loudon worked in summer stock and on the national nightclub circuit for several years. She moved to Manhattan in the early 1950s, and worked as a nightclub singer, eventually headlining at such clubs as Jimmy Ryan's on 52nd Street, The Blue Angel and the Persian Room of the Plaza Hotel. She sang with Louis Armstrong and toured in concert with Ray Bolger and George Burns. Loudon honed her skills as a comedienne under the guidance of cabaret entrepreneur Julius Monk.

Loudon made her first appearance on the legitimate stage in the 1962 Off-Broadway production of The World of Jules Feiffer, directed by Mike Nichols. Her first Broadway show was the 1962 musical Nowhere to Go but Up, which was directed by Sidney Lumet and only ran for a week, but Loudon won a Theatre World Award for her performance. Later the same year Loudon garnered more attention for her debut on television's The Garry Moore Show, where whe was a regular for two seasons (1962-1964).

Loudon continued to be well-received in unsuccessful shows. She earned her first Tony nomination for her performance in the 1969 musical, The Fig Leaves are Falling, directed by George Abbott. In 1971, she played the mother of the title character in Lolita, My Love, a musical version of the famous Nabokov novel, written by Alan Jay Lerner and John Barry, which closed out of town. She also appeared on Broadway in short-lived revivals of the plays Three Men on a Horse (1969) and The Women (1973).

Loudon's big break came in 1977 when her campy performance as Miss Hannigan in the 1977 blockbuster Annie, garnered her Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards for best performance by an actress in a musical and catapulted her to stardom. This was followed by Michael Bennett's Ballroom, for which she received a Tony Award nomination. In 1980 she was chosen to succeed Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Lovett in Stephen Sondheim's Tony Award-winning musical Sweeney Todd . In 1985 she co-starred with Chita Rivera and Leslie Uggams in Jerry's Girls, a revue of Jerry Herman songs. Loudon also played Parthy in the Chicago engagement of Harold Prince's 1996 revival of Kern and Hammerstein's Show Boat .

Throughout her career, she continued to appear in straight plays as well as musicals. In 1981 Loudon co-starred with Katharine Hepburn in The West Side Waltz on Broadway and on tour and had another smash hit in Michael Frayn's farce Noises Off (1983.) Loudon starred in the national companies of Driving Miss Daisy (1989) and The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (1981.) In 1991 she played Dolly Levi in an off-Broadway revival of Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker . Her final Broadway appearance would have been as Carlotta Vance in the 2002 Lincoln Center Theater revival of Dinner at Eight, but medical problems forced her to withdraw from the show during previews.

Loudon released cabaret albums, such as Broadway Baby (1986), Saloon (1991) and Something to Remember Me By (2003) as well as recording individual tracks for compilation albums, including several editions of Ben Bagley's "Revisited" series. She had roles in such films as Garbo Talks (1984) and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997).

Concert appearances of Loudon's include A Salute to Broadway Showstoppers at the White House in 1988; tributes to George Abbott, Jerry Herman, Jule Styne, Irving Berlin, Michael Bennett, Richard Rodgers, Charles Strouse and Gwen Verdon, "Lyrics and Lyricists" at the 92nd Street Y; and the tribute, Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall (1992).

Loudon was the recipient of several service awards, including "Woman of Achievement" from the Anti-Defamation League, "Woman of the Year" from the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and participated in benefits for the New York City Gay Men's Chorus, Broadway Cares: Equity Fights AIDS, Lupus Research, Alzheimer's Disease Association, the Actors' Fund, Hospital Audiences Inc., the New Dramatists Guild, PBS, The New York Public Library and Museum of the City of New York, among others.

Loudon was married to composer-arranger Norman Paris, whose jazz group, The Norman Paris Trio, had frequently accompanied her in her nightclub days. After being in a relationship for several years before their marriage, Paris and Loudon were married from 1971 until his death in 1977. Loudon died in New York City on November 15, 2003.

From the guide to the Dorothy Loudon papers, 1885-2003, 1940-2003, (The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.)

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Subjects:

  • Actresses
  • Musical films--United States
  • Musical theater--New York (State)--New York
  • Popular music
  • Librettists--United States
  • Singers--United States
  • Jazz
  • Television actors and actresses
  • Musicals
  • Musical films
  • Women singers
  • Revues
  • Musical theater
  • Television musicals--United States
  • Theater--United States--History--20th century
  • Lyricists--United States
  • Television musicals
  • Librettists
  • Lyricists

Occupations:

  • Lyricists
  • Librettists

Places:

  • United States (as recorded)
  • New York (State)--New York (as recorded)