Historic, but not famous

Harold Rome, composer, lyricist

Harold “Hecky” Jacob Rome (May 27, 1908 – October 26, 1993) was an American composer, lyricist, and writer for musical theater. He was born in Connecticut and played piano in local dance bands and was already writing music while studying architecture and law at Yale University. He graduated in 1929 with a Bachelor of Arts, and continued into Yale Law School. He moved to NYC as an architect, but continued to write music. Much of the music hewas writing at this time was socially conscious and of little interest to the mainstream audiences.

In 1937, he made his Broadway debut as co-writer, composer, and lyricist of the topical revue Pins and Needles. After a 2-week professional run, it was adapted for performances by members of the then-striking International Garment Workers’ Union as an entertainment for its members.  The show was a huge success, running for 1108 performances, and prompted George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart to invite Rome to collaborate on another topical revue, Sing Out the News, in 1938.

This began a long career in musical theater with his music and/or lyrics  heard in such films as Rear WindowAnchors AweighThousands Cheer, and Babes on Broadway. His Broadway song appearances include Call Me Mister, Wish You Were Here, Fanny, Destry Rides Again,  I Can Get It for You Wholesale,  and The Zulu and the Zayda.

In 1991, Rome was presented with a special Drama Desk Award for his “distinctive contribution to musical theater.” Later that same year, he was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame. He died of a stroke in New York City at the age of 85.

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