Mercer, Johnny

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Johnny Mercer (1910-1976) was born John H. Mercer in Savannah, Georgia, the son of George Anderson Mercer. He was educated in Savannah public schools and at Woodberry Forest School in Virginia. He worked with his father in the real estate loan business before heading to New York in 1929 with the Savannah Town Theater group for a National Little Theater contest. He remained in New York to try for a stage career. He became a well-known lyricist and moved to California, where he produced many hit songs for motion picture musical productions.

From the description of Johnny Mercer correspondence, 1955-1971. (Georgia Historical Society). WorldCat record id: 122932083

John Herndon Mercer (1909-1976), a native of Savannah, Georgia, was one of the foremost figures of 20th century American popular music. His song catalog includes many numbers that have become American classics, and his activities as lyricist, composer, performer and businessman span a period of nearly five decades. Throughout his life, Mercer painted in watercolor for his own enjoyment and relaxation. Some of his work was from photographs.

From the description of Johnny Mercer paintings reproduction collection. (Georgia State University). WorldCat record id: 191958375

Johnny Mercer was an American songwriter, singer, and composer. He was born John H. Mercer in Savannah, Georgia on 18 November 1909 and was the son of George Anderson and Lillian Mercer. He was educated in the Savannah public schools, the Woodberry Forest School in Virginia, and was destined to follow his family's tradition of attending Princeton University, but was unable to do so when his father's real estate business experienced financial setbacks in the late 1920s. As a result, Mercer began to help with his father's real estate business until he became bored with it and moved to New York in 1928 where he tried to pursue a career in show business. Mercer was able to earn roles in traveling performances, but soon made his mark in composing songs and lyrics for the variety shows. He soon became a well-known lyricist and moved to California where he produced many hit songs for motion picture musical productions and Broadway shows. Mercer died 25 June 1976 after losing a battle to brain cancer and is buried in his family's plot in Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah.

From the description of Johnny Mercer sheet music, 1931-1941. (Georgia Historical Society). WorldCat record id: 301806792

John Herndon Mercer (1909-1976) was born and raised in Savannah, Georgia. He moved to new York City in the late 1920s to pursue an acting career, and moved to Hollywood in 1935 to write songs and act in films. During his career he performed as a vocalist with the Benny Goodman and Paul Whiteman bands, co-founded Capitol Records, recorded songs for Capitol and other labels, and became one of America's foremost lyricists, with a documented catalog of over 1,700 songs.

From the description of Johnny Mercer Papers, 1885-1988. (Georgia State University). WorldCat record id: 30994644

Johnny Mercer was born in Savannah, Georgia on November 18, 1909. He spent his childhood in Savannah, then attended Woodbury Forest School in Virginia from 1922-1927. It was here that he wrote his first song at the age of 15. After graduating from Woodbury, he worked at his father's real estate business before traveling to New York as an actor with a theater group. He returned to New York in 1929 and 1930 to continue acting, but continued to write songs. Mercer wrote "Out of Breath and Scared to Death of You" for the Garrick Gaieties of 1930, and went from there to become one of America's major songwriters of the 1930s through the 1960s. (He was also active as an actor from the 1930s on, but not as much as he was active as a songwriter.) Mercer mostly worked in New York during the early 1930s, then moved to the west coast in 1935 after accepting an offer from RKO. In 1942, he founded Capitol Records with Glenn Wallichs and Buddy DeSylva. Mercer served as the company's first president. He continued writing music into the 1970s, despite the lack of films requiring popular music in their scores. Mercer underwent surgery for a brain tumor in October of 1975, and never recovered from the operation. He died on June 25, 1976 and was survived by his wife Elizabeth "Ginger" (Meehan) Mercer, to whom he was married in 1931, and their two children, Georgia Amanda (known as "Mandy") and John Jefferson (known as "Jeff").

Ginger Mercer was born Elizabeth Meltzer on June 25, 1909 in Brooklyn, New York, one of three daughters born to Anna and Joseph Meltzer. Specially gifted from childhood, Ginger studied piano and dance and made her stage debut at age 16 under the stage name "Ginger Meehan." From the mid-1920s through approximately 1930 Ginger appeared as a dancer in numerous shows, including Honeymoon Lane (1926), in which Kate Smith made her debut, and the 1930 production of Ruth Selwyn's Nine-Fifteen Review. While a member of the cast of the Garrick Gaieties of 1930 Ginger met an aspiring actor named Johnny Mercer, who had moved to New York from Savannah, Georgia to try his hand at a show business career. Mercer had hoped to win a role in the Gaieties, but instead placed one of his songs in the show and met Ginger, his future wife. Their courtship continued throughout 1930 and 1931, complicated by the separations they endured as each of their shows toured from city to city, and the two were finally married in New York City on June 8, 1931. They raised two children, Georgia Amanda (known as "Mandy," the inspiration for the Mercer song "Mandy is Two") and John Jefferson (known as "Jeff"), during a marriage that lasted 45 years, until Johnny's death on June 25, 1976. Following her husband's death, Ginger traveled widely and spent much of her time promoting her husband's legacy. In 1982, she founded the Johnny Mercer Foundation, a charitable foundation that awards grants to songwriters and contributes funds to charities and non-profit organizations in the arts, to selected medical sciences, and to projects commemorating Johnny Mercer.

From the description of Johnny and Ginger Mercer papers, 1925 - ca. 1992. (Georgia State University). WorldCat record id: 191823231

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Carmichael, Hoagy, 1899-1981. I'm off the wagon / music by Hoagy Carmichael ; lyric by Johnny Mercer. Library of Congress
creatorOf Carmichael, Hoagy, 1899-1981. Perfect Paris night [sound recording] / [music by] Hoagy Carmichael ; [lyrics by Johnny Mercer]. Indiana University, Archives of Traditional Music
creatorOf Hallahan, Bob. Jazz recital [sound recording] University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Semans Library
referencedIn Duke, Vernon, 1903-1969. Vernon Duke collection, 1918-1968. Library of Congress
creatorOf Carmichael, Hoagy, 1899-1981. Everything happens to me / music by Hoagy Carmichael ; lyric by Johnny Mercer. Library of Congress
referencedIn The Railroad hour, radio program [sound recording], 1948-1954 The New York Public Library. Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.
creatorOf Kosma, Joseph, 1905-1969. Autum leaves [music] / [music by] Joseph Kosma ; [English lyrics by] Johnny Mercer and [French lyrics by] Jacques Prevert ; arranged by Ted Harrison. Libraries Australia
creatorOf Wachsman, Robert A. Papers, [ca. 1933-ca. 1942]. Ohio State University Libraries
creatorOf Motion Picture and Television Fund. Screen Guild Players (Radio program), 1942-1948. University of California, Santa Barbara, UCSB Library
referencedIn Rennolds, Seymour. John and Seymour Rennolds collection, 1933-ca. 1992. Georgia State University
referencedIn DaCosta, Morton, 1914-1989. Papers, 1959. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
creatorOf Mercer, Johnny, 1909-1976. Johnny Mercer sheet music, 1931-1941. Georgia Historical Society
creatorOf Donaldson, Walter, 1893-1947. Pretty please / [lyric by] Johnny Mercer ; [music by] Walter Donaldson. Library of Congress
creatorOf Carmichael, Hoagy, 1899-1981. Drunkard's opera, part II [sound recording] ; [Maple leaf rag and unidentified piano solo]. Indiana University, Archives of Traditional Music
creatorOf Carmichael, Hoagy, 1899-1981. Fleur de lys [sound recording] / [music by] Hoagy Carmichael ; [lyrics by] J. Mercer. Indiana University, Archives of Traditional Music
creatorOf Carmichael, Hoagy, 1899-1981. Tied up [sound recording] ; Better not wait too long. Indiana University, Archives of Traditional Music
creatorOf Carmichael, Hoagy, 1899-1981. I guess it was you [sound recording] ; Don't care, for the heck of it. Indiana University, Archives of Traditional Music
creatorOf Kern, Jerome, 1885-1945. Never gonna dance / music by Jerome Kern ; lyrics by Dorothy Fields, Oscar Hammerstein II, Ira Gershwin, Otto Harbach, Bernard Dougall, Jimmy McHugh, Johnny Mercer, P. G. Wodehouse ; book by Jeffrey Hatcher ; based on the film Swing time [produced by RKO Pictures] ; screenplay by Howard Lindsay and Allan Scott ; [based on the story by Erwin Gelsey], 2003. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf NCSA Jazz Ensemble. Jazz Ensemble [sound recording]. University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Semans Library
referencedIn The Harold Rome Papers, 1873-1988 (inclusive) Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Yale University
referencedIn Lees, Gene. Gene Lees papers, 1924-2004 [bulk 1990-2004] Georgia State University
creatorOf Mercer, Johnny, 1909-1976. Johnny Mercer correspondence, 1955-1971. Georgia Historical Society
creatorOf Carmichael, Hoagy, 1899-1981. Darn clever, these Chinee / music by Hoagy Carmichael ; lyric by Johnny Mercer. Library of Congress
referencedIn Whiting, Richard A., 1891-1938. Richard A. Whiting collection, 1896-2006. Georgia State University
creatorOf Mercer, Johnny, 1909-1976. Johnny Mercer paintings reproduction collection. Georgia State University
creatorOf Donaldson, Walter, 1893-1947. Long time, no see / music by Walter Donaldson ; lyric by Johnny Mercer. Library of Congress
referencedIn Leo Reisman collection of sound recordings [sound recording], 1932-1948 The New York Public Library. Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.
referencedIn Smith, Windell M. Windell M. Smith papers, ca. 1960. Georgia State University
referencedIn Mercer, Ginger (Elizabeth Meltzer) 1909-1994. Ginger Mercer collection, circa 1960-1983; undated Georgia State University
referencedIn American Vaudeville Museum collection, 1845-2007, (bulk 1910-1940) University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections
creatorOf Carmichael, Hoagy, 1899-1981. One morning in May [sound recording] / Hoagy Carmichael. Indiana University, Archives of Traditional Music
referencedIn Parker, Geoffrey. Geoff Parker collection, 1946-1977. Georgia State University
creatorOf Kern, Jerome, 1885-1945. Never gonna dance: typescript, 2001. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Allen, Fred, 1894-1956. Mail call, radio program [sound recording]. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Mercer, Johnny, 1909-1976. Johnny and Ginger Mercer papers, 1925 - ca. 1992. Georgia State University
creatorOf Carmichael, Hoagy, 1899-1981. Where are you now [sound recording] / Hoagy Carmichael. Indiana University, Archives of Traditional Music
creatorOf NCSA Jazz Ensemble. Jazz Ensemble [sound recording] University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Semans Library
creatorOf Carmichael, Hoagy, 1899-1981. Cadillac [sound recording] ; He's dead. Indiana University, Archives of Traditional Music
creatorOf Carmichael, Hoagy, 1899-1981. Queenie [sound recording] ; Cool, cool of evening. Indiana University, Archives of Traditional Music
referencedIn Johnson, J. Rosamond (John Rosamond), 1873-1954. The J. Rosamond Johnson papers, 1879-1975 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
referencedIn Swift, Kay, 1897-1993. The Kay Swift papers, 1894-1993 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
creatorOf Armed Forces Radio Service. Command performance [sound recording]. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf NCSA Jazz Ensemble. North Carolina School of the Arts Jazz Ensemble [sound recording] University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Semans Library
creatorOf Mercer, Johnny, 1909-1976. Johnny Mercer Papers, 1885-1988. Georgia State University
referencedIn Joseph Schillinger collection of noncommercial recordings, 1937-1943 The New York Public Library. Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.
referencedIn Nicolas Slonimsky Collection, 1873-1997, (bulk 1920-1990) Music Division Library of Congress
creatorOf Carmichael, Hoagy, 1899-1981. How little we know [sound recording] / Hoagy Carmichael. Indiana University, Archives of Traditional Music
referencedIn Kelly, Emma (Emma Thompson), 1918-2001. [Emma Kelly collection], 1900-2001 (bulk 1980-1999). Georgia State University
referencedIn Johnson, J. Rosamond (John Rosamond), 1873-1954. The John Rosamond Johnson papers, 1879-1975 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
referencedIn Vernon Duke Collection, 1918-1968 Music Division Library of Congress
creatorOf Hamilton, David, 1955-. 2 jazz classics : arranged for solo voice (soprano or tenor) with mixed voice choir / arr. David Hamilton. National Library of New Zealand
referencedIn Whiting, Margaret. Margaret Whiting collection, circa 1950s-1999 ; undated. Georgia State University
creatorOf Dolan, Robert Emmett, 1908-1972. Foxy / [music by Robert Emmett Dolan ; lyrics by Johnny Mercer]. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Southern Folklife Collection Artist Name File, 1940-2005 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Folklife Collection.
creatorOf Carmichael, Hoagy, 1899-1981. Any similarity [sound recording]. Indiana University, Archives of Traditional Music
creatorOf Nokes, Mark. Mark Nokes, guitar, senior recital [sound recording] : Monday, November 28, 2005, 7:00 pm, Recital Hall. University of Central Oklahoma, Chambers Library
creatorOf Donaldson, Walter, 1893-1947. Little Cowboy Blue / music by Walter Donaldson ; lyric by Johnny Mercer. Library of Congress
referencedIn Lawrence Tibbett Collection, 1929-1945 Archive of Recorded Sound, Stanford University Libraries
referencedIn Rivers family. Papers, 1946-1974. University of West Florida, John C. Pace Library
creatorOf Green, Johnny, 1908-1989. Peek-a-boo / lyrics by Johnny Mercer ; music by Johnny Green. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Dream (Musical) [clippings] New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Avery, Ray,. Ray Avery Collection of Johnny Mercer Recordings, 1932-ca. 1974. Georgia State University
referencedIn Johnny Green additional papers, 1923-1989. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Jo Mielziner papers, 1903-1976 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Museum of Vaudeville corporateBody
correspondedWith Arlen, Harold, 1905-1986 person
associatedWith Armed Forces Radio Service. corporateBody
associatedWith Avery, Ray, person
associatedWith Capitol Records, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Carmichael, Hoagy, 1899-1981. person
correspondedWith Crosby, Bing, 1903-1977 person
associatedWith Cullen, Frank, 1936- person
associatedWith DaCosta, Morton, 1914-1989. person
associatedWith Dolan, Robert Emmett, 1908-1972. person
associatedWith Donaldson, Walter, 1893-1947. person
correspondedWith Duke, Vernon, 1903-1969. person
associatedWith G.A. Mercer Company (Savannah, Ga.) corporateBody
associatedWith Green, Johnny, 1908-1989. person
associatedWith Hamilton, David, 1955- person
associatedWith Harold Rome person
associatedWith Johnson, J. Rosamond (John Rosamond), 1873-1954. person
associatedWith Kelly, Emma (Emma Thompson), 1918-2001. person
associatedWith Kern, Jerome, 1885-1945. person
associatedWith Kosma, Joseph, 1905-1969. person
associatedWith Lees, Gene. person
associatedWith McNeilly, Donald, 1945- person
associatedWith Mercer, Ginger (Elizabeth Meltzer), 1909-1994. person
associatedWith Mielziner, Jo, 1901-1976 person
associatedWith Motion Picture and Television Fund. corporateBody
associatedWith NCSA Jazz Ensemble. corporateBody
associatedWith NCSA Jazz Ensemble. corporateBody
associatedWith NCSA Jazz Ensemble. corporateBody
associatedWith Nokes, Mark. person
associatedWith Parker, Geoffrey. person
correspondedWith Previn, André, 1929- person
associatedWith Railroad Hour Radio Program corporateBody
associatedWith Reisman, Leo, 1897-1961 person
associatedWith Rennolds, Seymour. person
correspondedWith Rivers family. family
correspondedWith Ruby, Harry person
associatedWith Savannah Bank and Trust Company (Savannah, Ga.) corporateBody
associatedWith Schillinger, Joseph, 1895-1943 person
associatedWith Slonimsky, Nicolas, 1894-1995 person
associatedWith Smith, Windell M. person
associatedWith Swift, Kay, 1897-1993. person
associatedWith Tibbett, Richard M. person
associatedWith Wachsman, Robert A. person
associatedWith Whiting, Margaret. person
associatedWith Whiting, Richard A., 1891-1938. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
United States
United States
United States
Subject
Debt
Mercer, Johnny--1909-1976--Sheet music
Lyricists--20th century--Archival resources
Charities
Popular music--20th century--Archival resources
Art, Amateur
Motion picture music
Popular music
Occupation
Lyricists
Performer
Function

Person

Birth 1909-11-18

Death 1976-06-25

Americans

Information

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SNAC ID: 25836313