Rome, Harold, 1908-1993

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Harold Jacob "Hecky" Rome (May 27, 1908 – October 26, 1993) was an American composer, lyricist, and writer for musical theater.

He was born in Hartford, Connecticut and graduated from Hartford Public High School. Originally, he chose to go to Trinity College, but transferred because he felt like a "townie". Rome played piano in local dance bands such as Eddie Wittstein's and was already writing music while studying architecture and law at Yale University. While at Yale, he also pledged to Tau Epsilon Phi. He graduated in 1929 with a Bachelor of Arts, and continued into Yale Law School.

After graduation, he worked as an architect in New York City, but continued to pursue his musical interests, arranging music for local bands and writing material for revues at Green Mansions, a Jewish summer resort in the Adirondacks. Much of the music Rome was writing at this time was socially conscious and of little interest to Tin Pan Alley.

In 1937, he made his Broadway debut as co-writer, composer, and lyricist of the topical revue Pins and Needles. Pins and Needles was originally written for a small theatrical production directed by Samuel Roland. After a 2-week professional run, it was adapted for performances by members of the then-striking International Garment Workers' Union as an entertainment for its members. Because Roland was associated with left-wing causes, he was asked by ILGWU president David Dubinsky to withdraw. The show was a huge success, running for 1108 performances, and prompted George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart to invite Rome to collaborate on another topical revue, Sing Out the News, in 1938.

In 1949, he wrote the English lyrics of the French song "Mais qu’est-ce que j’ai?". The title song became "What Can I Do?" and the song was recorded by Madelyn Russell with Mitch Miller and his Orchestra.

In the early 1940s, Rome wrote songs for several revues and shows, but it was not until after the end of World War II that he had his next real success with Call Me Mister. His first full-fledged musical was Wish You Were Here in 1952. Additional Broadway credits include Fanny (1954), Destry Rides Again (1959), I Can Get It for You Wholesale (1962), in which Barbra Streisand made her Broadway debut, and The Zulu and the Zayda (1965), which dealt with racial and religious intolerance. He also wrote the lyrics for La Grosse Valise (composer Gérard Calvi), which enjoyed a short run at the 54th Street Theater in 1965.

In 1970, he wrote a musical adaptation of Gone with the Wind entitled Scarlett for a Tokyo production with a Japanese cast. It later was staged in English with little success in London and Los Angeles.

Rome's music and/or lyrics can be heard in such films as Babes on Broadway (1941), Thousands Cheer (1943), Anchors Aweigh (1945), and Rear Window (1954).

In 1991, Rome was presented with a special Drama Desk Award for his "distinctive contribution to musical theater." Later that same year, he was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.

Rome also was a painter and art collector. He died of a stroke in New York City at the age of 85.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn The Railroad hour, radio program [sound recording], 1948-1954 The New York Public Library. Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.
creatorOf The Harold Rome Papers, 1873-1988 (inclusive) Irving S. Gilmore Music Library
referencedIn Lucille Lortel papers, 1902-2000 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn The Harold Rome Papers, 1873-1988 (inclusive) Irving S. Gilmore Music Library
referencedIn Duke, Vernon, 1903-1969. Vernon Duke collection, 1918-1968. Library of Congress
creatorOf Elisofon, Eliot. Papers, 1930-1988 (bulk, 1942-1973). Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Rome, Harold, 1908-1993. Blissful Christmas / Harold Rome. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Rome, Harold, 1908-1993,. [The Harold and Florence Rome collection of African art] [realia]. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Ruth and Augustus Goetz papers, 1930-1966 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Jo Mielziner designs and technical drawings, 1924-1976 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Walter Slezak papers, 1905-1983 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Pins and Needles Collection, 1938-1940 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
referencedIn Vernon Duke Collection, 1918-1968 Library of Congress. Music Division
referencedIn Jo Mielziner papers, 1903-1976 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
creatorOf Rittman, Trude. [Original compositions and arrangements / Trude Rittman]. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Irving Berlin collection of non-commercial sound recordings [sound recording] The New York Public Library. Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.
referencedIn Robert A. Wilson slides, 1956-1969 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
creatorOf Merrick, David, 1911-2000. David Merrick collection 1956-1970 (bulk 1960-1969). Library of Congress
referencedIn Biography: Melvyn Douglas, 1972-1980 Indiana University, Bloomington. Center for the Study of History and Memory
referencedIn Valente, Alfredo. Alfredo Valente papers, 1941-1978. Archives of American Art
creatorOf Rome, Harold, 1908-1993. Gone with the Wind : the epic musical / music and lyrics by Harold Rome ; adaptation by Horton Foote ; based on the novel by Margaret Mitchell, 1971. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Wiener, Bruce F. A Rome with a view : three sample chapters of a proposed biography of Broadway composer-lyricist Harold Rome: typescript, 2001. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Levin, Herman, 1907-1990. Herman Levin papers, 1943-1981. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
creatorOf Rome, Harold, 1908-1993,. [The Harold and Florence Rome collection of African art] [realia]. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Oliver, Sy. Sy Oliver papers, [ca. 1933-1990]. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Meredith, Scott. Research files [microform], 1971-1974. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
creatorOf Mitchell, Margaret, 1900-1949. Margaret Mitchell collection, 1936-1990. Emory University Library, Special Collect Department
creatorOf Rome, Harold, 1908-1993. Every night / Harold Rome. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Trude Rittman scores, ca. 1934-ca. 1975 The New York Public Library. Music Division.
referencedIn Johnny Green additional papers, 1923-1989. Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
creatorOf Rome, Harold, 1908-1993. Flowers for Polly painting, 1968. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Gypsy Rose Lee papers, 1910-1970 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Sy Oliver papers, ca. 1933-1990 The New York Public Library. Music Division.
creatorOf Rome, Harold, 1908-1993. The Harold Rome papers, 1873-1988 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
referencedIn Vernon Duke Collection, 1918-1968 Library of Congress. Music Division
creatorOf Rome, Harold, 1908-1993. The lady is lucky : [from] G.W.T.W. : revised / [words and music by] Harold Rome. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Rome, Harold, 1908-1993. The Harold Rome papers, 1873-1988 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
referencedIn Correspondence and other papers of Arthur Sullivan, W. S. (William Schwenck) Gilbert, and related persons, 1834-1979. Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn Leo Reisman collection of sound recordings [sound recording], 1932-1948 The New York Public Library. Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.
creatorOf Rome, Harold, 1908-1993. Harold Rome collection, 1937-1969. Library of Congress
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Arlen, Harold, 1905-1986 person
correspondedWith Arlen, Harold, 1905-1986 person
associatedWith Baruch, Bernard M. (Bernard Mannes), 1870-1965. person
associatedWith Bennett, Tony, 1926- person
associatedWith Berlin, Irving, 1888- person
associatedWith Berlin, Irving, 1888-1989. person
correspondedWith Bernstein, Leonard, 1918-1990 person
correspondedWith Blitzstein, Marc person
associatedWith Carlisle, Kitty, 1910-2007. person
associatedWith Carlyle, Kitty, 1915- person
associatedWith Chasins, Abram, 1903-1987. person
associatedWith Chevalier, Maurice, 1888-1972. person
associatedWith Chodorov, Jerome. person
associatedWith Comden, Betty. person
associatedWith Crawford, Joan, 1908-1977. person
associatedWith De Mille, Agnes. person
associatedWith De Mille, Agnes. person
associatedWith Dietz, Howard, 1896-1983. person
associatedWith Douglas, Melvyn. person
associatedWith Drake, Alfred, 1914- person
associatedWith Drake, Alfred, 1914-1992. person
correspondedWith Duke, Vernon, 1903-1969. person
associatedWith Elisofon, Eliot. person
associatedWith Engel, Lehman, 1910- person
associatedWith Foote, Horton. person
associatedWith Francis, Arlene. person
associatedWith Freeman, Paul, 1936- person
associatedWith Furness, Betty, 1916-1994 person
associatedWith Gershwin, Ira, 1896- person
associatedWith Gershwin, Ira, 1896-1983. person
associatedWith Goetz, Ruth person
associatedWith Goldman, Harry Merton person
associatedWith Goodman, Benny, 1909- person
associatedWith Goodman, Benny, 1909-1986. person
associatedWith Gorme, Eydie. person
associatedWith Grauer, Ben. person
associatedWith Green, Adolph. person
associatedWith Green, Johnny, 1908-1989 person
associatedWith Green, Stanley. person
associatedWith Hammerstein, Oscar, 1895-1960 person
correspondedWith Hart, Moss, 1904-1961 person
associatedWith Herlie, Eileen. person
associatedWith Herlie, Eileen. person
associatedWith Indiana University Center for the Study of History and Memory corporateBody
associatedWith International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. corporateBody
associatedWith Ionesco, Eugène. person
associatedWith Ionesco, Eugène. person
associatedWith Javits, Jacob K. (Jacob Koppel), 1904-1986. person
associatedWith Kapp, David. person
associatedWith Kazan, Elia. person
associatedWith Kert, Larry. person
associatedWith Kert, Larry. person
associatedWith Kober, Arthur, 1900-1975. person
associatedWith Kroll, Lucy. person
associatedWith Lane, Burton, 1912-1997. person
associatedWith Lawrence, Steve, 1935- person
associatedWith Layton, Joe, 1931- person
associatedWith Lee, Gypsy Rose, 1914-1970 person
associatedWith Leinsdorf, Erich, 1912-1993. person
associatedWith Lerner, Alan Jay, 1918-1986. person
associatedWith Levin, Herman, 1907-1990. person
associatedWith Lieberson, Goddard, 1911- person
associatedWith Lieberson, Goddard, 1911-1977. person
associatedWith Lortel, Lucille person
associatedWith Mercer, Johnny. person
associatedWith Mercer, Johnny. person
associatedWith Meredith, Scott. person
associatedWith Merrick, David, 1911- person
associatedWith Merrick, David, 1911-2000. person
associatedWith Mielziner, Jo, 1901-1976 person
associatedWith Mitchell, Margaret, 1900-1949. person
associatedWith Novotná, Jarmila, 1907-1994. person
associatedWith Oliver, Sy person
associatedWith Oliver, Sy. person
associatedWith Osborn, Paul, 1901- person
correspondedWith Porter, Cole, 1891-1964 person
associatedWith Railroad Hour Radio Program corporateBody
associatedWith Reisman, Leo, 1897-1961 person
associatedWith Resnik, Regina, 1922- person
associatedWith Rigby, Harry. person
associatedWith Rittman, Trude. person
associatedWith Robbins, Jerome. person
associatedWith Robbins, Warren M. person
associatedWith Rodgers, Dorothy F., 1909- person
associatedWith Rodgers, Richard, 1902- person
correspondedWith Rodgers, Richard, 1902-1979 person
associatedWith Rome, Florence person
associatedWith Saddler, Donald person
associatedWith Sardi, Vincent, 1915- person
associatedWith Sardi, Vincent, 1915-2007. person
associatedWith Schlesinger, Arthur Meier, 1917- person
associatedWith Schubert, Bernard. person
associatedWith Schwartz, Arthur, 1900-1984. person
associatedWith Segáll, Bernardo. person
associatedWith Segáll, Bernardo. person
associatedWith Silber, Irwin, 1925-2010. person
associatedWith Slezak, Walter, 1902- person
associatedWith Vacha, John. person
associatedWith Valente, Alfredo. person
associatedWith Weidman, Jerome, 1913-1998. person
associatedWith Wiener, Bruce F. person
associatedWith Wilson, Robert A. (Robert Alfred), 1922- person
associatedWith Wood, Audrey, 1905- person
correspondedWith Wouk, Herman, 1915- person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Republic of Liberia 00 LR
Gabonese Republic 00 GA
Côte d'Ivoire
Republic of Cameroon 00 CM
Republic of Mali 00 ML
Republic of the Congo 00 CG
Republic of Niger 00 NE
Africa
Republic of Ghana 00 GH
Republic of Benin 00 BJ
Republic of Sierra Leone 00 SL
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia 00 ET
Subject
Bembe (Congolese (Democratic Republic) people)
Teke (African people)
Baoulte (African people)
Mangbetu (African people)
Board games
Pende (African people)
Yoruka (African people)
Luba (African people)
Fang (West African people)
Pipes (Tobacco)
Kota (African people)
Masks
Tobacco pipes
Songwriters
Mende (African people)
Songye (African people)
Statues
Lobi (African people)
Mossi (African people)
Musical instruments
Ivories
Stools
staff
Fon (African people)
Broadway (New York, N.Y.)
Figurines
Goldweights, Ashanti
Combs
Miniature objects
Popular music
Ashanti (African people)
Musicals--20th century
Doors
Guro (African People)
Igbo (African people)
Implements, utensils, etc
Musical revues, comedies, etc.--Excerpts--Vocal scores with piano
Dan (African people)
Goldweights
Kuba (African people)
Senufo (African people)
Dogon (African people)
Goldweights, Akan
Arms and armor
Bells
Occupation
Lyricist
Collector
Composers
Writer
Activity

Person

Birth 1908-05-27

Death 1993-10-26

Male

Americans

English

Information

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SNAC ID: 85692105