Memorial to Jule Styne

Jule Styne (1905-1994)


a life well lived

Jule Styne (Archive) Styne portrait

Jule (pronounced JOO-lee) Styne was born December 31st, 1905 in London, England, was a brilliant, prolific tunesmith who, over the course of a nearly 75-year long career, composed 2,000 songs, published 1,500 of them, and had somewhere around 200 of them become enormous hits or later song standards. Jule was a stocky, feisty man much loved in showbiz circles for his sputtered, incomplete sentences, his wit, adaptability and showmanship.

With the scores of such Broadway classics as GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES, PETER PAN, BELLS ARE RINGING, GYPSY and FUNNY GIRL to his credit, composer Jule Styne ranks as one of the undisputed architects of the American musical theatre.  Although he was born in London’s East End, Styne’s family moved to the United States in 1912.

Young Julius showed such a talent for the piano that he had performed with the Chicago, St. Louis, and Detroit Symphonies by age 10. He developed his feel for popular music working with the jazz bands of 1920s Chicago, and as vocal coach to such 1930s Hollywood stars as Shirley Temple and Alice Faye.

Teaming with lyricist Sammy Cahn in the 1940s, he created a string of Hit Parade leaders including the Oscar-winning “Three Coins In The Fountain.”

In addition to Sammy Cahn, Styne’s collaborators include Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Stephen Sondheim, Bob Merrill, Leo Robin and E.Y. Harburg, and their combined efforts have produced such showstoppers as “The Party’s Over,” “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” “People” and “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend.”

Famous lyricists collaborated with Jule: Frank Loesser, Sammy Cahn, Leo Robin, E.Y. Harburg, Stephen Sondheim, Susan Birkenhead, Betty Comden and Adolph Green and Bob Merrill.

Jule was elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972, the Theatre Hall of Fame in 1981, and became a Kennedy Center Honoree in 1990. On the occasion of his 25th anniversary in show business, the following tribute was read into the Congressional Record: “The lives of Americans throughout our land, as well as the lives of people throughout the corners of the world, have been enriched by the artistry and genius of Jule Styne.”

The creator of songs ranging from the joyous “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” and “Make Someone Happy” to the heartbreaking melancholy of “Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry” to the triumph of “Just in Time” received many deserved honors before his death at age 88.

Jule Styne postcard from Ethel Merman in Rome how do you like them eggroles WWW

It would be difficult to conceive of the careers of Broadway’s brightest female stars – Carol Channing as Lorelei Lee in GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES, Judy Holliday as the daffy telephone operator in BELLS ARE RINGING, Mary Martin as PETER PAN, Barbra Streisand as Fanny Brice in FUNNY GIRL, or Ethel Merman singing “Rose’s Turn” in GYPSY – without the show-stopping songs, so precisely molded to the outstanding talents of each, of Jule Styne.

Jule died on September 20, 1994 in New York City.

Key Shows









Key Artists

Carol Channing
Sammy Davis Jr.
Marvin Hamlisch
Angela Lansbury
Arthur Laurents
Mary Martin
Ethel Merman
David Merrick
Cole Porter
Chita Rivera
Jerome Robbins
Frank Sinatra
Stephen Sondheim
Barbra Streisand
Elaine Stritch

My Memories

Jule Styne Composer Poster

Jule Styne score Everythings Coming Up RosesI was engaged by Jule’s widow Margaret Styne to catalog and digitize legendary pop, film and musical composer Jule Styne’s personal and professional documents, awards, compositions, diaries etc.. to ensure his legacy was not lost, then utilize some of these digital assets to create an enduring web presence.

Here, I spent weeks inside his musty old offices with the Actors Equity building, sifting through filing cabinets and cardboard boxes stuffed with original hand notated scores, diaries (“lunch with E. to discuss G.” ) [E = Ethel Merman   G = GYPSY] etc…

I was photographing, scanning and discussing with Margaret in determining what should be sent to the Ransom Center at The University of Texas in Austin, The Smithsonian Archive, and/or making recommendations on what should be considered family legacy items.

Finding his original Oscar statuette in a box inside an old filing cabinet with Margaret exclaiming “I wondered where that was“.

This was an American Theatre treasure trove.

Toby Awards Trophy Margaret Stynetoby awards
In 1999, Margaret Styne was the recipient of a Toby Award.

Click for details.

Just some of the +17,000 artifacts

Jule Styne Archive Photo Styne Channing WWWJule Styne Archive Photo Sydney Chaplin Barbra Streisand and Jule Styne listen to a playback during the Funny Girl recording session at Manhattan Center Studios in 1964 WWW  Jule Styne Archive Styne son Nicky Ethel Merman at BahMitz  Jule Styne Archive Styne party animal Jule Styne Archive Styne Streisand Jule Styne Archive Styne Sid Caesar Jule Styne Archive Styne Phil Silvers Jule Styne Archive Styne David Merrick Ethel Merman Phil Silvers Jule Styne Archive Styne Ethel Merman VP Nixon Jule Styne Archive Styne Funny Girl Barbra Streisand Jule Styne Archive Styne Liza M Feinstein Jule Styne Archive Styne Liza may 1974 Jule Styne Archive Styne Betty Adolph Jule Styne Archive Styne Carol Channing Jule Styne Archive Styne Arther Angela Steve Jule Styne Archive Ethel MermanJule Styne Archive Photo Jule Styne and Judy Garland at the cast party following the Broadway opening of Oliver WWW Jule Styne Archive Shelving Sheet Music Jule Styne Archive Sheet Music Jule Styne Archive obituary NYT Jule Styne Archive Sinatra letter 88 Jule Styne Archive Sammy Cahn Parody Jule Styne Archive Streisand letter

Jule Styne Archive Jule head at 88  Jule Styne Archive Portrait 1962  Jule Styne Archive Styne portrait Jule Styne Archive OSCAR Jule Styne Archive TONY Jule Styne Archive GRAMMY Jule Styne Archive SONGWRITERS HALL OF FAME Jule Styne Archive Songwrighter Award Jule Styne Archive GOVERNORS AWARD Jule Styne Archive KENNEDY CENTER AWARD        Jule Styne Composer Poster

(even the Oscar statuette was found stuffed in the bottom of a box inside a musty filing cabinet)

Jule Styne Closing Night recording of GYPSY on reel to reel

When I was sorting Jule Styne’s estate, I came across a private reel to reel recording that Jule made himself of the final night of Ethel Merman’s performance in GYPSY on March 25, 1961, according to his diary, he was sitting alone in the front row, with an empty seat next to him for his portable recording machine. I digitized it from his reel to reel to CD format, and it’s wonderful to listen to since you hear exactly what Jule heard — a slower tempo than expected, but an un-mic’d Ethel Merman singing over the orchestra pit (with great orchestrations).  The quality is not great, but it’s the full show from top to bottom, I think a rare and only copy capturing the entire show.

Margaret agreed I could share this (all individual scenes and songs in 48 MP3 format files, all in ZIP file).

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