PAUL FRANCIS WEBSTER (1907 - 1984)
Paul Francis Webster may not be a familiar name, but his credits as a lyricist indicate it should be. After college, Navy service, and a stint as a dance instructor, he began his career as a lyricist and hit pay dirt with the enduring standard, “Masquerade” (1932), written with John Jacob Loeb and first popularized by aul Whiteman’s orchestra.
He went to Hollywood in 1934 and freelanced on several pictures, but his big successes were independent tunes: “I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good),” written with Duke Ellington (1941); “Baltimore Oriole (1942), music by Hoagy Carmichael; and 1948’s “Black Coffee,” written with Reginald “Sonny” Burke, which was a hit for Sarah Vaughan, Julie London, and Peggy Lee.
The ‘50s were good to Webster. “The Loveliest Night of the Year,” adapted by Webster and Irving Aronson from a Juvenito Rosas composition for The Great Caruso (1951), won a gold disc for Mario Lanza. Webster and Sammy Fain won two Grammys--for “Secret Love” from Calamity Jane (1953) and for “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing,” the title of a 1955 film. They also wrote the title song for April Love starring Pat Boone who took the song to number one in 1957.
Webster’s collaboration with Dimitri Tiomkin on the title song for Friendly Persuasion (1956) earned an Oscar nomination, and their theme song for The Alamo, “Green Leaves of Summer,” was a popular hit in 1960. In 1965 Webster wrote “A Time for Love” with Johnny Mandel, and they won the Oscar for “The Shadow of Your Smile,” written for The Sandpiper. In 1966 he contributed lyrics to Maurice Jarre’s Lara’s theme, “Somewhere My Love,” for Dr. Zhivago.
Webster holds the record among lyricists for the most number of Academy Award nominations—sixteen.
-- Sandra Burlingame
Courtesy of JazzStandards.com