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Neil Simon

Memories of working with Dorothy Fields (extract from Rewrites: A Memoir)


Working with lyricist Dorothy Fields was a major joy and surprise for me. When I met her, she was in her sixties and reminded me a little of Lillian Hellman. She was tough, all business, and could meet a crisis with the best of them. She was the exception to the rule I mentioned before about lyricists. It was easier for her to rewrite a song than to fight for one. And took less time. What I didn’t know about her was that she was fond of a drink at dinner. She was even fonder of two or three drinks even without dinner. When she appeared at the theater every night for the evening performance, she was dressed in her Park Avenue best, always looking elegant. She didn’t stand too well, however, as a result of a martini or two, and often leaned on a friendly arm or a bannister to give her balance, although she never lost her dignity. Be that as it may, at nine o’clock in the morning she was fresh, alert, and had already written a new set of lyrics that would knock your socks off. Whether it was a ballad or a comedy song, she always delivered overnight and first-class. I'm sorry I only had one opportunity to work with her.

 

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