DOROTHY FIELDS (1905 - 1974)
Dorothy Fields came from a prominent show business family and became a brilliant lyricist in a male-dominated profession. She was the first woman inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and was honored with a U.S. postage stamp.
Her seven-year collaboration with Jimmy McHugh enjoyed its first success with the revue, Blackbirds of 1928, which featured “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.” Later shows and films gave us “On the Sunny Side of the Street” and “Exactly Like You” (1930), “Don’t Blame Me” (1933), and “I’m in the Mood for Love” (1935).
Fields collaborated with Jerome Kern on the Astaire/Rogers film Swing Time (1936), winning an Academy Award for “The Way You Look Tonight.” The clever songs included “Never Gonna Dance,” “Pick Yourself Up,” and “A Fine Romance.” Kern, whose leanings were classically European, was inspired to some of his best work here by the lively lyricist 20 years his junior.
Fields returned to Broadway and partnered with her librettist brother, Herbert, to write the book for Annie Get Your Gun and collaborate on three Cole Porter musicals. Herbert died while they were writing the book for Redhead (1959) with composer Albert Hague. The show became a commercial success and won a Tony for Musical Play and a Grammy for Musical Show Album.
Other collaborations produced the songs “Close as Pages in a Book” (1945) with Sigmund Romberg and “Make the Man Love Me” (1951) with Arthur Schwartz. She wrote two shows with composer Cy Coleman. Sweet Charity (1966) was an enormous success and was made into a movie starring Shirley MacLaine. Fields’ lyrics for the hit songs “Big Spender” and “If My Friends Could See Me Now” display her knack for capturing colloquial speech. Seesaw (1973), her last show, won a Tony for Best Musical and enjoyed a respectable run despite a paucity of hit songs.
Fields was the first woman to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
-- Sandra Burlingame
Courtesy of JazzStandards.com