Jerome Kern was hired by producer Charles Frohman to add a few songs to the
score of a British comedy, The Girl From Utah (1914), that was about to
open at the "Knickerbocker" theater. Kern added They Didn't Believe Me.
Kern and lyricist Guy Bolton moved to Ray Comstock's "Princess" theater where
they partnered with British librettist Pelham-Grenville Wodehouse.
Kern's melodies highlighted musicals that were relatively humble and ordinary
compared with the opulence of the extravaganzas that were being staged
by the larger theaters:
Oh Boy (1917), featuring Till the Clouds Roll By,
Leave It To Jane (1917),
Oh Lady Lady (1918), with the first version of Bill,
Oh My Dear (1918),
and Sally (1920), with Look for the Silver Lining (the song that
turned Marilyn Miller into a star),
produced instead by Florenz Ziegfeld at the "New Amsterdam" theater.
Jerome Kern had re-invented the "musical" by integrating music and story
in everyday settings (not the fantasy lands of the operettas),
thus wedding Sullivan's aesthetics and Cohan's aesthetics.
He then began a collaboration with lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II that started
with Sunny (1925), with Who,
and peaked with
Show Boat (1927), based on the novel by Edna Ferber, his masterpiece, a realistic saga produced by Ziegfeld that included several moments of high pathos (the spiritual Ol' Man River, Make Believe, You Are Love, the cakewalk Can't Help Lovin' That Man and Bill, the latter two the songs that turned Helen Morgan into a star).
Kern then scored two operettas set in modern times,
The Cat and the Fiddle (1931), with She Didn't Say Yes and
I've Told Every Little Star,
Music in the Air (1932),
Roberta (1933), with Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, one of his classics,
Mark Sandrich's film Top Hat (1935), with
The Piccolino, Isn't This A Lovely Day, Cheek to Cheek and
Top Hat White Tie and Tails,
Swing Time (1936), with The Way You Look Tonight,
the ambitious and experimental High Wide And Handsome (1937), with The Folks Who Live On The Hill,
Lady Be Good (1941), with The Last Time I Saw Paris,
You Were Never Lovelier (1942), with Dearly Beloved,
For Cover Girl (1944), with Long Ago and Far Away.
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