Dolan, Robert Emmett, 1908-1972

Alternative names
Birth 1906-08-03
Death 1972-09-26

Biographical notes:

Abe Burrows, playwright, lyricist, director, screenwriter, comedian and play doctor was born Abram S. Burrows on December 18, 1910 in New York City to Louis and Julia Burrows. His father was in the paint and wallpaper business. He graduated from New Utrecht High School in Brooklyn and attended City College and New York University first in a pre-med program and then studying accounting. In 1931 he was hired by a brokerage firm on Wall Street where he worked for three years. He then worked in his father's paint business and as a traveling salesman for a maple syrup firm. During summers he was a popular entertainer in the Catskills and found he enjoyed making a living with his humor.

Burrows began selling radio sketches in 1938 and for four years was a writer for Ed Gardner's Duffy's Tavern, 1941-1945 . He also wrote pieces for CBS Texaco Theater, The Joan Davis Show, and The Ford Program . In Hollywood he became a hit at exclusive parties with his satirical songs and recitations with titles such as The Girl with the Three Blue Eyes and I'm Walking down Memory Lane without a Single Thing to Remember . During the course of his career, he appeared on many radio and TV programs, recorded two albums of songs and published An Abe Burrows Songbook . In 1948 and 1949 he toured the country performing in nightclubs and also had his own radio shows: The Abe Burrows Show and Breakfast with Burrows .

Burrows' biggest hits, however, were in the world of musical theater. At CBS in Hollywood he had worked for Ernest Martin who later joined with Cy Feuer to produce Guys and Dolls . It was Martin who brought Burrows to work on the Broadway show. The Guys and Dolls that opened in November 1950 with book and lyrics by Burrows and music by Frank Loesser, was an award-winning production and major hit that ran for years and was revived in London, on Broadway and on school stages around the country. Burrows' other major hit, again with Frank Loesser, was How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying which won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1962 .

From 1950 on Burrows' work was primarily for the Broadway stage as writer, director or both. In 1951 he doctored the musical Make a Wish, an adaption of Ferenc Molnar's The Good Fairy, and directed the revue, Two on the Aisle . In 1952 he was writer and director for Three Wishes for Jamie which he adapted with Charles O'Neal, in 1953 he wrote and directed Can-Can, and in 1954 he directed Reclining Figure . He adapted the screenplay of Ninotchka for the Cole Porter musical Silk Stockings and wrote the screenplay for Solid Gold Cadillac in 1955 and collaborated with Harry Kurnitz on Once More with Feeling in 1957 and with Richard and Marion Bissell on Say, Darling which he also directed in 1958 . He was also writer and director for First Impressions, an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and director of Golden Fleecing in 1959, for Cactus Flower, 1965, for Holly Golightly, 1966, a musical theater remake of the film Breakfast at Tiffany's which closed before its Broadway opening, and for Four on a Garden, 1971 . His other directing credits include Happy Hunting, Golden Fleecing, What Makes Sammy Run?, Forty Carats, and No Hard Feelings . He was a director for Good News, 1974 and co-writer and director for Hellzapoppin', 1976, but left both shows before their openings. He also did some directing work on the show Forty-Second Street in 1981 .

Burrows married his first wife Ruth in 1936. The couple had two children: James born in 1940 and Laurie in 1944, and were divorced in 1948. He married Carin Smith on October 2, 1950. Abe Burrows died on May 17, 1985 after a long illness.

From the guide to the Abe Burrows papers, 1904-1993, (The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.)


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  • Radio writers
  • Musical theater--New York (State)--New York
  • Musical revues, comedies, etc.--Vocal scores with piano
  • Theatrical producers and directors
  • Musicals--Excerpts--Scores
  • Humorous songs
  • Musical revues, comedies, etc.--Excerpts--Scores
  • Theater--New York (State)--New York


  • Dramatists
  • Comedians
  • Lyricists


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