born Seymour Kaufman, was brought up in the Bronx. He was a child
prodigy and had given piano recitals in Carnegie Hall and Steinway
Hall by the ripe old age of 9 .
Despite the early classical success, he decided to build a career
in popular music. His first collaborator was Joseph Allen McCarthy
but his most successful early partnership, albeit a turbulent one,
was with Carolyn Leigh. The pair wrote many pop hits including Witchcraft
and The Best Is Yet To Come, and
also wrote two Broadway musicals : Wildcat,
which starred Lucille Ball, and Little Me.
1964, Coleman met Dorothy Fields at a party, and asked if she would
like to collaborate with him. She is reported to have answered Thank
God somebody asked. Fields was revitalised by working with the
much younger Coleman, and by the contemporary nature of their first
project, which was to become Sweet Charity.
The show was a fabulous success and Coleman found working with Fields
much easier than with Leigh. The partnership was to work on two
more shows an aborted project about Eleanor
Roosevelt, and Seesaw, which reached
Broadway on 1973, after one of those troubled out-of-town tours.
Dorothy Fields's delight in working with Coleman was described
by her son David Lahm:
There was one piece of sheet music that I found
song In Tune which is from
Seesaw and one of the lines
is something like "Three completely
different instruments but when they play together they're in tune"
and on this piece of music are the words "That's us!"
in Dorothy Fields's handwriting and it just seemed like a spontaneous
expression of how great it was to have somebody who could really
keep up with her and challenge her and she knew when she set out
to do something with Cy Coleman that it was going to be of high
quality and it was going to be exciting and it was going to feel
good to work on the lyric.
The Fields/Coleman association was cut short by Fields' death in
Coleman continued to write for the stage, writing the scores for
the following shows:
1977 I Love My Wife (lyrics Michael
1978 On The Twentieth Century (lyrics
Betty Comden and Adolph Green)
1979 Home Again, Home Again (lyrics
Barbara Fried) did not reach Broadway
1980 Barnum (lyrics Michael Stewart)
1988 Welcome to the Club (lyrics
Coleman, AE Hotchner)
1989 City of Angels (lyrics David
1991 Will Rogers Follies ( lyrics
Betty Comden, Adolph Green)
1997 The Life ( lyrics Ira Gasman)
Cy Coleman died on 18th November 2004.
Full obituary of Cy Coleman