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(1900 - 1997)

Pianist, Composer, Orchestra Leader

Gerald Marks , a self-taught pianist, showed musical promise as a child and left school to pursue a career as a songwriter. He wrote for both stage and film, but his most enduring hit, “All of Me” with lyrics by Seymour Simons, was introduced in 1931 and won a “Towering Song” award in 2000 from the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame.

His next most memorable effort was “Is It True What They Say About Dixie?” written with Irving Caesar and Sammy Lerner, which made Your Hit Parade in 1936 and was a favorite vehicle for Al Jolson. That same year, with Caesar, he also wrote a song for Shirley Temple, “That’s What I Want for Christmas,” which she sang in the film Stowaway.

During the ‘30s Marks wrote the music for Caesar’s 22-song series for children, intended as teaching aids—“Sing a Song of Safety,” “Songs of Health,” and “Sing a Song of Friendship.” Caesar had been inspired by the efforts of the League of Nations and felt a need to promote tolerance and unity. His offer of the materials to the federal government was turned down, but they were later published by the Anti-Defamation League of the B’nai B’rith.

Marks enjoyed a long life and in his later years served on the board of the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame and lectured on his experiences as a songwriter during the heyday of Tin Pan Alley.

-- Sandra Burlingame

Courtesy of JazzStandards.com

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