ARTHUR FREED (1894 - 1973)
Arthur Freed was a highly successful lyricist whose first hit was “I Cried for You” (1923). He teamed with
Nacio Herb Brown for Hollywood Music Box Revue of 1928, which produced “Singin’ in the Rain,” and
they scored The Broadway Melody of 1929, which won an Academy Award for Best Picture.
After two follow-ups to that film, in 1936 and 1938, Freed was itching to produce movies. He convinced Louis B. Mayer to
purchase the rights to The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, and Mayer made him associate producer. But Freed’s
genius in selecting E.Y. (Yip) Harburg and Harold Arlen to create the lyrics and music for the film put his stamp on it. He
went on to produce several Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney vehicles, Academy Award winners An American in Paris and
Gigi and many other hits.
His legendary coterie of musical colleagues at MGM, known as the “Freed Unit” (the subject of a documentary
called Musicals Great Musicals), is often credited with lending a distinctive sound to the Hollywood musical.
However, Freed’s success as a producer didn’t stop him from writing, and in 1952 he teamed again with Brown to
score the quintessential musical Singin' in the Rain.
-- Sandra Burlingame
Courtesy of JazzStandards.com