Composer-lyricist and Broadway legend, Richard Adler, died Thursday, June 21st at his Southampton, New York home. He was 90.
Mr. Adler, son of Clarence and Elsa Adler, was born in New York City in 1921. A graduate of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1943, he served in the U.S. Naval Reserve during World War II.
Mr. Adler co-composed the music and lyrics for Pajama Game and Damn Yankees, both of which won Tony Awards for Best Musical and Best Score. He also earned a Tony Award nomination for his musical, Kwamina. Some of his biggest hit songs are You Gotta Have Heart, Hey, There, Hernando’s Hideaway, Whatever Lola Wants, Steam Heat, Rags to Riches, and Everybody Loves a Lover.
During the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, Richard Adler staged and produced numerous presidential entertainments, including the unforgettable birthday celebration for President Kennedy featuring Marilyn Monroe singing Happy Birthday, Mr. President.
Mr. Adler composed many symphonic works, including Wilderness Suite, commissioned by the U.S. Department of the Interior, and The Lady Remembers, commissioned by the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation celebrating the statue’s centennial. He was commissioned to compose two ballets for the Chicago City Ballet, Emmy Award-winning Eight by Adler in 1984, and Chicago, a jazz ballet. The Miami City Ballet commissioned Mr. Adler to compose a ballet based on Garcia-Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba in 1998.
Mr. Adler is the recipient of many other awards and honors, including two Donaldsons, two Variety Critics, The London Evening Standard, as well as the coveted National Parks Service Honorary Ranger Award in 1984. He is a member of the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, a recipient of the ASCAP-Richard Rodgers Award, and in 2003, Wagner College awarded him an honorary doctorate.
He is survived by his wife, Susan A. Ivory; his children, Andrew Adler, Katherine Adler, and Charles Shipman; and his grandchildren, Damien and Scarlett Adler and Lola Jane Shipman. He was preceded in death by his son, Christopher in 1984.
Memorial services will be held on Wednesday, June 27th at 4 p.m. at St. Bartholomew’s Church, located at 325 Park Avenue in New York City. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the National Park Trust, 401 East Jefferson Street, Suite 109, Rockville, MD, 20850 www.donate.parktrust.org.