On this date in 1910, Frank Loesser was born in New York City. Loesser came from a musical family: His father taught classical piano, and his brother, Arthur Loesser, was a concert pianist. Loesser wrote his first song when he was 4 years old, and soon taught himself to play harmonica and piano. He briefly attended the City College of New York, but dropped out and turned to various jobs, including becoming a newspaper editor. In 1931, he teamed up with William Schuman to write his first lyrics for the song “In Love With a Memory of You.” Loesser became an accomplished lyricist, composing lyrics for such well-known songs as “Moon of Manakoora” (1943), with music by Alfred Newman, “Two Sleepy People” (1938) and “Heart and Soul” (1938), both with music by Hoagy Carmichael. His musical work is just as famous, including such hits as “If I Were a Bell” (1950), “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (1944), “Luck Be A Lady” (1950) and “On a Slow Boat to China” (1948). Loesser composed the scores for many celebrated Broadway musicals, including “Guys and Dolls” (1950), “The Most Happy Fella” (1956) and “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” (1961). He also wrote the score for Hollywood film, “Hans Christian Andersen” (1952), comprised of songs such as “Wonderful Copenhagen” and “Anywhere I Wander.” He married Lynn Loesser and had two children, Susan and John. Loesser and Lynn were divorced in 1957. He married Jo Sullivan in 1959 and had two more daughters, Hannah and Emily.
In Susan Loesser’s book A Most Remarkable Fella: Frank Loesser and the Guys and Dolls in His Life (1993), she writes that Loesser’s family was not religious. His grandparents “were Jewish by blood, but not by thought or deed. No religion was practiced at home.” Loesser’s father, Henry Loesser, “cultivated intellectual, not theological, fields.” Before Loesser died, he wrote that he wanted his body to be disposed of “without benefit of ceremony, [or] religion.” D. 1969.
“What a blessing to know there’s a devil, and that I’m but a pawn in his game / that my impulse to sin doesn’t come from within, and so I’m not exactly to blame.”
—Frank Loesser wrote ironically in “What a Blessing” (1960)
Compiled by Sabrina Gaylor
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