Dietz, Howard

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Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz, writers and composers.

From the description of Revenge with music: typescript, 1934. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122532975

Howard Dietz (1896-1983) was an important musical theater lyricist and motion picture publicist, who is well-known for his professional partnership with composer Arthur Schwartz, as well as for his long association with the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studio.

Born in New York City, Dietz was educated in public schools and attended Columbia University's School of Journalism. He worked as a contributing journalist and writer for various publications while at Columbia and simultaneously was an assistant at Phillip Goodman's advertising agency. During World War I, Dietz left Columbia to enlist in the United States Navy and edited the magazine Navy Life. After the war, Dietz worked as a motion picture promoter and publicist, joining M-G-M in 1924, where he would remain for thirty years and serve in many capacities, including stints as director of advertising and publicity and as a vice-president of the company. Dietz's second career as a lyricist developed and thrived in tandem with his publicity work. His first major Broadway hit came with the revue, The Little Show (1929), which also was his first show with Arthur Schwartz, who would become his most frequent collaborator. Throughout the early 1930s, Dietz and Schwartz continued to write hit revues, including Three's A Crowd (1930), The Band Wagon (1931), Flying Colors (1932), and At Home Abroad (1935) as well as book shows, such as Revenge with Music (1934) and Between the Devil (1937). In later years, Dietz devoted more of his time to his career as a publicist, taking occasional breaks to work on book shows, including Sadie Thompson (1944) with Vernon Duke, as well as The Gay Life (1961) and Jennie (1963) with Schwartz. Dietz was married three times; to Elizabeth Bigelow Hall, Tanis Guines, and costume designer Lucinda Ballard. He also was involved with various other administrative positions throughout his career, including serving a term as director of the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP) from 1959-1961. In addition to his many other accomplishments, Dietz also was a painter, whose works received various exhibitions. In 1974, he published an autobiography, Dancing in the Dark: Words by Howard Dietz.

From the description of Howard Dietz papers, 1915-1976. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 86107908

Howard Dietz was born in New York City on September 6, 1896. He was educated in New York’s public schools and he enrolled in Columbia University’s School of Journalism, as a member of the class of 1917. He worked as a contributing journalist and writer for various publications while at Columbia and simultaneously was an assistant at Phillip Goodman’s advertising agency. During World War I, Dietz left Columbia to enlist in the United States Navy and edited the magazine Navy Life .

After the war Dietz worked as a motion picture promoter and publicist, becoming Publicity Director for Goldwyn Pictures Corporation. When assigned to create a trademark for the company Dietz used the mascot of his alma mater, Columbia as the basis for the “Leo the Lion,” which became the famous trademark of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer when Goldwyn merged with Metro Pictures Corporation and Louis B. Mayer Pictures. Howard Dietz also went to M-G-M in 1924, beginning his thirty year sojourn there as Director of Advertising and Publicity, eventually becoming a Vice-President and member of the Board of Directors. In addition to the Leo trademark, Dietz’s achievements at M-G-M include inventing Greta Garbo’s catch-phrase, “I want to be alone,” creating the advertising slogan “More stars than there are in the Heavens” and planning and orchestrating the 1939 premiere of Gone With the Wind in Atlanta, Georgia.

Dietz’ second career as a lyricist was developing and thriving simultaneously with his publicity career. Dietz’s first lyric to be heard on Broadway was a collaboration with composer Arthur Samuels, “Alibi Baby” for the W.C. Fields vehicle, Poppy (1923). Though that lyric was un-credited it brought Dietz to the attention of one of Broadway’s most successful composers, Jerome Kern and the two collaborated on the score for Dear Sir (1924). Dietz next job was filling in some lyrics for the Gershwins’ Oh, Kay! (1926) when Ira Gershwin was ill. In 1927, Dietz and Morrie Ryskind provided the lyrics for Henry Souvaine and Jay Gorney’s music for Merry-Go-Round .

Dietz’s first major hit came with the revue The Little Show (1929) which starred Clifton Webb, Libby Holman and Fred Allen and introduced such hits as “I Guess I’ll Have to Change My Plan” and “Moanin’ Low.” The Little Show was also Dietz’s first collaboration with Arthur Schwartz, his most frequent composer. Dietz and Schwartz followed The Little Show with a less successful sequel, The Second Little Show and the very successful Three’s a Crowd, both in 1930. Three’s a Crowd featured the stars of The Little Show and introduced another Dietz and Schwartz standard, “Something to Remember You By.” Their next collaboration was The Band Wagon (1931) which starred Fred and Adele Astaire and introduced their most famous song “Dancing in the Dark,” as well “High and Low” and “New Sun in the Sky.” The Band Wagon was made into an M-G-M film directed by Vincente Minnelli in 1953, again starring Astaire, with a script by Betty Comden and Adolph Green built around songs from various Dietz and Swartz shows.

Throughout the 1930s Dietz and Schwartz continued to write hit revues, including Flying Colors (1932), which featured “Alone Together” and “Louisiana Hayride” and At Home Abroad (1935) as well as musical comedies such as Revenge with Music (1934) with “If There is Someone Lovelier Than You” and “You and the Night and the Music” and Between the Devil (1937) which introduced “I See Your Face Before Me” and “By Myself.” In later years, Dietz devoted more of his time to his career as a publicist, taking occasional breaks to work on book shows, including Sadie Thompson (1944) with Vernon Duke and The Gay Life (1961) and Jennie (1963) with Schwartz. Dietz also wrote lyrics for English language productions of Die Fledermaus (1950) and La Bohème (1952) for the Metropolitan Opera Company.

Dietz was involved with various other administrative positions throughout his career, including serving as director of the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP) from 1959-1961. He also ran the publicity and promotion of war bonds for the United States Treasury during World War II. Dietz was also a painter, whose works received various exhibitions. In 1974 he published his autobiography, Dancing in the Dark: Words by Howard Dietz .

In 1917 Dietz married Elizabeth Bigelow Hall and they divorced in 1936. Shortly after his divorce, Dietz married Tanis Guiness and they had one daughter, Liza, born in 1938, but divorced after fourteen years. Dietz’s third marriage, to the Broadway costume designer, Lucinda Ballard, lasted until his death on July 30, 1983 from Parkinson’s Disease.

From the guide to the Howard Dietz papers, 1915-1976, (The New York Public Library. Music Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Lillie, Beatrice, 1894-1989. Beatrice Lillie papers, 1911-1995. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Schwartz, Arthur, 1900-1984. Reminiscences of Arthur Schwartz : oral history, 1958. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Vincent J. Donehue papers, 1946-1965 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
creatorOf Alstone, Alex. Montparnasse / book by Anita Loos and George Abbott ; lyrics by Howard Dietz ; music by [Alex] Alstone. HCL Technical Services, Harvard College Library
referencedIn Pinchot, Rosamond, 1904-1938. Rosamond Pinchot papers, 1918-1955 (bulk 1923-1937). Library of Congress
referencedIn Beatrice Lillie papers, 1911-1995 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
creatorOf Dietz, Howard, 1896-1983. Howard Dietz papers, 1915-1976. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer films and personalities scrapbooks, 1920-1944 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Rosamond Pinchot Papers, 1918-1955, (bulk 1923-1937) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Hammerstein, Oscar, 1895-1960. Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers: transcript, 1956. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Dietz, Howard, 1896-1983. Autograph card signed : 1924 July 28. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn The Railroad hour, radio program [sound recording], 1948-1954 The New York Public Library. Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.
referencedIn New Yorker records, ca.1924-1984 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Johnny Green additional papers, 1923-1989. Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn American Vaudeville Museum collection, 1845-2007, (bulk 1910-1940) University of Arizona Libraries, Library Special Collections
creatorOf Styne, Jule, 1905-1994. Buzz Miller collection of playscripts. 1956-[1968?] New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Dietz, Howard, 1896-1983. Inside U.S.A. Lyrics. 1948. 1 folder. (20 p.). New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Charles Mingus Collection, 1939-1979 Library of Congress. Music Division
referencedIn Museum of the City of New York. Personality files, [ca. 1800]-1986, 1900-1986 (bulk) Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn The Harold Rome Papers, 1873-1988 (inclusive) Irving S. Gilmore Music Library
referencedIn Nicolas Slonimsky Collection, 1873-1997, (bulk 1920-1990) Library of Congress. Music Division
creatorOf Alstone, Alex. Jacqueline : a play with music / music by Alstone ; lyrics by Howard Dietz ; play by Anita Loos. HCL Technical Services, Harvard College Library
referencedIn Vernon Duke Collection, 1918-1968 Library of Congress. Music Division
referencedIn Rome, Harold, 1908-1993. The Harold Rome papers, 1873-1988 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
referencedIn Rome, Harold, 1908-1993. The Harold Rome papers, 1873-1988 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
creatorOf Hall, George. Production photographs, ca. 1940-1950. Ohio State University Libraries
creatorOf Dietz, Howard, 1896-1983. Letter, 1948 Jan 6, [New York City], to Helen Tamiris, New York City. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Shumlin, Herman, 1898-. Papers, 1930-1968. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
creatorOf Howard Dietz papers, 1915-1976 The New York Public Library. Music Division.
creatorOf Weill, Kurt, 1900-1950. Lovemusik / music by Kurt Weill ; lyrics by Maxwell Anderson, Bertolt Brecht, Howard Dietz, Roger Fernay, Ira Gershwin, Oscar Hammerstein II, Langston Hughes, Alan Jay Lerner, Maurice Magre, Ogden Nash, Elmer Rice, Kurt Weill ; book by Alfred Uhry ; suggested by Speak low (when you speak love) the letters of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya edited and translated by Lys Symonette and Kim H. Kowalke, 2007. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Schwartz, Arthur, 1900-1984. That's not cricket / words by Howard Dietz ; music by Arthur Schwartz. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Ruth and Augustus Goetz papers, 1930-1966 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Vernon Duke Collection, 1918-1968 Library of Congress. Music Division
creatorOf Le Gai, Hilaire. Clifton Webb Collection, [ca. 1930-ca. 1960]. Ohio State University Libraries
referencedIn Gore Vidal papers, 1850-2020 (inclusive), 1936-2008 (bulk) Houghton Library
creatorOf Dietz, Howard, 1896-1983. Musical comedies. Band wagon [Programs] New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Sandburg, Carl, 1878-1967. Letters of tribute to Carl Sandburg [manuscript], 1951-1952. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Alexander Woollcott correspondence, ca. 1856-1943 (inclusive), 1920-1943 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Green, Johnny, 1908-. Typewritten letter signed, dated : Beverly Hills, 24 April 1958, to James J. Fuld, 1958 Apr. 24. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Dietz, Howard, 1896-1983. Revenge with music: typescript, 1934. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn John Mason Brown papers, 1922-1967. Houghton Library
creatorOf Shaw Festival Collection (University of Guelph). Sadie Thompson / music by Vernon Duke, lyrics by Howard Dietz, book by Howard Dietz and Rouben Mamoulian, base on the story "Rain" by W. Somerset Maugham and the play "Rain" by Coulton and Clemence Randolph, adapted by Paul Sportelli and Christopher Newton ; directed by Christopher Newton, 2000 - house program. University of Guelph
referencedIn Buzz Miller collection of playscripts, 1956-[1968? The New York Public Library. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.
referencedIn Jo Mielziner papers, 1903-1976 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Arthur Schwartz Papers, 1900-1983, (bulk 1931-1983) Library of Congress. Music Division
referencedIn Duke, Vernon, 1903-1969. Vernon Duke collection, 1918-1968. Library of Congress
creatorOf Strauss, Johann, 1825-1899. No. 3, Duo / lyrics by Howard Dietz ; [music by Johann Strauss]. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Gershwin, George, 1898-1937. Oh Kay : operett i 2 akter : partitur / av George Gershwin. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Robert Baral papers, 1876-1980 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Souvenir programs for theatrical productions, 1906-2005. Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn Johnny Green papers, 1920-1991. Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Alarcon, Pedro Antonio, 1883-1891. de person
associatedWith Alstone, Alex. person
associatedWith American Museum of Vaudeville corporateBody
associatedWith American Music Collection corporateBody
associatedWith Ballard, Lucinda. person
associatedWith Baral, Robert person
associatedWith Bettis, Valerie, 1920-1982. person
correspondedWith Brown, John Mason, 1900-1969 person
associatedWith Cullen, Frank, 1936- person
associatedWith Donehue, Vincent J., 1915-1966 person
correspondedWith Duke, Vernon, 1903-1969. person
associatedWith Gallagher, Irene, person
associatedWith Gershwin, George, 1898-1937. person
associatedWith Gershwin, Ira, 1896-1983. person
associatedWith Goetz, Ruth person
associatedWith Green, Johnny, 1908- person
associatedWith Hall, George. person
associatedWith Hammerstein, Oscar, 1895-1960. person
associatedWith Harold Rome person
associatedWith Kaufman, George S. (George Simon), 1889-1961. person
associatedWith Lillie, Beatrice, 1894-1989. person
associatedWith McNeilly, Donald, 1945- person
associatedWith Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer corporateBody
associatedWith Mielziner, Jo, 1901-1976 person
associatedWith Miller, Buzz person
associatedWith Mingus, Charles, 1922-1979 person
associatedWith Museum of the City of New York. corporateBody
associatedWith New Yorker Magazine, Inc corporateBody
associatedWith Parker, Dorothy, 1893-1967. person
associatedWith Pinchot, Rosamond, 1904-1938. person
associatedWith Porter, Cole, 1891-1964. person
associatedWith Railroad Hour Radio Program corporateBody
associatedWith Rodgers, Richard, 1902-1979 person
associatedWith Rome, Harold, 1908-1993. person
associatedWith Sandburg, Carl, 1878-1967. person
associatedWith Schwartz, Arthur. person
associatedWith Schwartz, Arthur, 1900-1984. person
associatedWith Shaw Festival Collection (University of Guelph) corporateBody
associatedWith Shumlin, Herman, 1898- person
associatedWith Slonimsky, Nicolas, 1894-1995 person
associatedWith Strauss, Johann, 1825-1899. person
associatedWith Tamiris, Helen, 1905-1966. person
associatedWith Vidal, Gore, 1925- person
associatedWith Webb, Clifton, 1893-1966. person
associatedWith Weill, Kurt, 1900-1950. person
associatedWith Wodehouse, P. G. (Pelham Grenville), 1881-1975. person
associatedWith Woollcott, Alexander, 1887-1943. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Subject
Lyricists
Lyricists--United States
Press agents--20th century
Press agents--United States--20th century
Occupation
Press agents
Composers
Lyricists
Activity

Person

Birth 1896-09-08

Death 1983-07-30

Americans

Information

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