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Betty Comden, 1915-2006 November 26, 2006

Posted by Jeff in 1946 through 1960, Comden and Green, In memoriam, Movies, Musicals, Theater.

Comden and GreenRight: Betty Comden and Adolph Green

For the next few days it may seem that the non-blog is taking a morbid turn. They say death comes in threes; last week it came in four …

Along with Adolph Green, Betty Comden was the last of a generation of classic Broadway lyricists and book writers. For such quintessentially New York characters, they were uniquely at home both in Broadway and Hollywood; they would have been acclaimed if if they had written nothing else but the screenplays of The Band Wagon, It’s Always Fair Weather and Singin’ In The Rain.

A few facts: They were never married nor were they ever romantically involved, yet their partnership lasted over sixty years. They were performers themselves (I saw then in their revue A Night With Betty Comden and Adolph Green), and they originated the characters of Claire De Loon and Ozzie in their first Broadway musical, On The Town, with music by Leonard Bernstein. Here’s their first number “Carried Away” (remember that Comden had opera training):


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Adolph Green understood one reason the movie version of On The Town was a failure: The Freed unit set it in peacetime. The original musical opened in 1944; audiences knew that when the sailors and their girls sang “Oh well, we’ll catch up some other time” as they returned to their ship, there was a distinct possibility that some other time would never happen.

Comden and Green’s rendition of “Some Other Time,” along with Nancy Walker and Cris Alexander:


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From a concert version of On The Town, Comden and Green introduce the opening number, their best known work as lyricists, performed by Thomas Hampson, David Garrison and Kurt Ollmann:

Green died in 2002. I’m going to do more Comden and Green posts when the sadness of their passing has worn off.

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