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The following is a list of the principal sources used in creating the content of this website.

Pick Yourself Up: Dorothy Fields and the American Musical

This new biography, published by Oxford University Press as one of the first titles in their Broadway Legacies series is the most detailed account yet of Dorothy Fields' life and work.

It's a well-written and well-researched work with much detail on Dorothy's family, particularly the parallel writing careers of her brothers Herbert and Joseph. I appreciate Greenspan's meticulous documentation of her sources which has put me on to a number of interesting leads for me in my own research.

Unfortunately Greenspan and her publishers, to the author's evident regret, did not secure the rights to present the Fields lyrics. Only the briefest snippets are quoted, which is a pity, because Greenspan's comments on the lyrics are consistently fresh and interesting. She brings considerable knowledge of the work of other songwriters to her analysis, for example on different lyricists' preferences for terms of endearment - "baby", "honey", "dear". And she made me think about "Diamond bracelets Woolworths doesn't sell" in a new way.

Other useful insights are provided as a result of Greenspan returning to the source works for the musicals A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Arms and the Girl, showing how Fields wove previous written material into the fabric of her lyrics.

The book gives more detail than I have seen before on Dorothy's work as a librettist - together with her brother Herb she wrote the books for four musicals with scores by other songwriters: most famously Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun, but also Cole Porter's Let's Face It, Something For the Boys and Mexican Hayride.

Dorothy Fields' greatest theatrical success was of course Sweet Charity, and the author naturally devotes a number of pages to recounting the story of its creation, and most interestingly in an analysis of the score, where she interestingly (and for the most part convincingly) points out a symmetry between the two acts: each song in the first act is mirrored by a thematically realted song in the first act in a different mood.

The main events in Dorothy's personal life are of course covered here. However just as in Deborah Grace Winer's biography from 1997, the true character of the woman remains highly elusive. Anecdotes are told, including some from Dorothy Fields' daughter, but they do not build up to a clear idea of what this woman was really like. A surprising omission is that no mention is made of the reported drinking problems in Fields' later life, which may have contributed to the fallow periods which occurred at different points in the 1950s and 1960s.

A slighly quirky but enjoyable aspect to the book is the author's sceptical approach to the well-told anecdotes. She forensically examines contradictory accounts and the plausibility of familiar stories such as the Cotton Club singer who embarassed Dorothy Fields by substituting a dirty song for the intended Fields number, or the message Jerome Kern left on his bathroom mirror in soap shortly before his fatal collapse. On a purely factual basis Greenspan has also established that Fields was born in 1904, instead of the year 1905 as reported by most sources, including my website (until now).

I'm very pleased to have this useful addition to my Dorothy Fields collection.

A radio interview with Charlotte Greenspan can be heard here.

On The Sunny Side of the Street by Deborah Grace Winer

The primary reference book on Dorothy Fields until publication of Greenspan's biography in 2010, and consequently the source for much of the material on this website is On The Sunny Side of the Street by Deborah Grace Winer.

Published in 1997, the book contains a wealth of material on Dorothy's life and work. The author conveys a clear picture of her subject's upbringing and later lifestyle, but Dorothy's character remains somewhat veiled; the reader is left with the impression of someone kindly, charming and urbane, but with nothing clearer than that.

This one reservation aside, I would recommend the book wholeheartedly. Winer packs a great deal of information into the text, while maintaining readability. Many of the anecdotes are fascinating, and there are hundreds of wonderful illustrations of the subject, her family and friends, and of her films and shows.
The lyrics to several songs are quoted in full; however since this is principally a biography, there is little detailed analysis of her work.
The book is published by Schirmer Books.

Ethan Mordden

Ethan Mordden is an authority on the Broadway musical. Among his most recent publications are four books each of which concentrates on Broadway musicals from a different decade: the 1920s, the 1930s, the 1940s, the 1950s and the 1960s.

Extensive research, breadth of knowledge, a confidence in his own opinions and writing skills of a high order enable Mordden to bring a succession of Broadway flops and triumphs to life. The books covering the 30s to the 70s contain peachy descriptions of Fields' shows as follows:

Sing For Your Supper: The Broadway Musical in the 1930s has Hello, Daddy and Stars in Your Eyes.

Coming up Roses : The Broadway Musical in the 1950s has Arms and the Girl, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, By the Beautiful Sea and Redhead.

Open a New Window: The Broadway Musical in the 1960s has Sweet Charity.

One More Kiss: The Broadway Musical in the 1970s has Seesaw.

Max Wilk : They're Playing Our Song

Max Wilk has written several books on popular song and songwriters. This work is a unique collection of interviews he carried out with the greatest American songwriters, mostly in the 1960s and 1970s. The Dorothy Fields interview is particularly interesting - the reader gains an impression of her personality, and there are several great anecdotes.
This book is highly recommended.

Henry Kane: How To Write A Song

This book, published in 1962, consists principally of interviews with 10 successful songwriters. Dorothy Fields is one of them, along with Johnny Mercer, Hoagy Carmichael and Noel Coward.
The interviews focus on advice for budding songwriters. Kane writes well (he describes Johnny Mercer's accent ) and one gains a good impression of the personalities of the subjects. The interview with Fields (spread over 3 different occasions) appears to have occurred in 1955 or 1956.

Show Music on Record: The First One Hundred Years

“A comprehensive list of original cast and studio cast performances issued on comerical phonograph records, covering music of the American stage, scereen, and television, with composer perrfomances and other selected collateral recordings.”
This is a wonderful reference work by Jack Raymond, available in book form or as a CD-ROM.

Hollywood Song : The Complete Film & Musical Companion by Ken Bloom

An astounding reference work which lists all songs featured in the movies Aaron Slick from Punkin Crick to Zorro's Fighting Legion with 7037 other films in between.
This is a companion volume to Bloom's American Song: The Complete Musical Theatre Companion

Not Since Carrie : 40 Years of Broadway Flops by Ken Mandelbaum

Lots of fascinating detail is provided on two hundred flops, including Arms and the Girl and Carnival in Flanders, to the book of which Dorothy Fields made a contribution. Some of Mandelbaum's speculations on the reasons for the shows' failures are less than persuasive.

Broadway Babies Say Goodnight by Mark Steyn

A collection of essays on musicals by an outstanding critic and writer. His view is strikingly individual, but is usually convincingly argued, particularly when he writes about lyrics. Sometimes I am less clear on his arguments, as in the chapter on gays and the musical, entitled “The Fags”, which has offended many.

Ladies Don't Write Lyrics by Mark Steyn

For Dorothy Fields' centenary Mark Steyn produced a 48-page booklet which can be bought at his site. The booklet is cheaply produced but has lots of illustrations. Most importantly it's full of great insights, starting with a short general section and followed by pieces on 20 of her songs. The price includes a copy of the CD An Evening with Dorothy Fields.

Note (October 2010) : The edition described above is no longer available. However it has been reprinted as part of Mark Steyn's American Songbook which can be obtained from this page on his website.

Song by Song – 14 Great Lyric Writers by Caryl Brahms and Ned Sherrin

Short essays on 14 lyricists (Berlin, Porter, Gershwin, Hart, Hammerstein, Fields, Dietz, Harburg, Coward, Mercer, Loesser, Lerner, Harnick, Sondheim), packed with information, and some telling anecdotes (reliable old Sherrin) and comments. Published 1984

Radio programmes on Dorothy Fields

1. In July 2000 National Public Radio paid tribute to Dorothy Fields. The tribute is accessible via the Internet.

2. In June 2002, Angela Richards and I appeared on Woman's Hour to talk about Dorothy Fields.

3. In 2006, Mark Steyn spoke about Dorothy Fields on Australian radio. The interview and a transcipt can be found here.

TV program on women songwriters

In 1999 PBS broadcast a documentary about women songwriters, in which Dorothy features prominently,now available on both VHS and DVD. The program is called Yours for a Song: The Women of Tin Pan Alley.

It's a very interesting program, and includes a lot of archive photos and some clips of Dorothy, including her singing Blue Again in the 1930s (with McHugh at the piano) and making a TV appearance on Perry Como's show in the 1950s.

Stage Door Canteen

In 1943 Dorothy (along with hundreds of other celebrities) made a guest appearance in this film comedy.

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