Harry Warren

Born Salvatore Guaragno in Brooklyn, composer Harry Warren changed his name while working as a drummer and pianist in various travelling bands. His first taste of Hollywood came via a series of handyman jobs at the Vitagraph Studios, but it wasn't until the arrival of talkies that Warren and Hollywood linked arms for keeps. From 1930 through 1967, Warren composed some 300 songs for over 50 films -- roughly a rate of 6 songs per picture. Writing the music for the Eddie Cantor musical Roman Scandals (1933), Warren so impressed the film's choreographer Busby Berkeley that Berkeley brought Warren with him to Warner Bros. for 42nd Street (1933). Working in collaboration with Al Dubin, Warren penned such everlasting tunes as "Shuffle Off to Buffalo," "Young and Healthy" and the title song "42nd Street." In rapid-fire order, Warren worked on two more Berkeley pictures within the same year: Footlight Parade ("By a Waterfall," "Honeymoon Hotel," "Shanghai Lil") and The Gold Diggers of 1933 ("We're In the Money," "Pettin' in the Park," "Remember My Forgotten Man"). The list of Harry Warren songs is virtually a shorthand history of movie musicals: "I Only Have Eyes for You," "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby," "Jeepers Creepers," "Chattanooga Choo Choo," "The More I See You," "That's Amore," and his three Oscar-winning numbers: "Lullaby of Broadway," "You'll Never Know" and "The Acheson Topeka and the Santa Fe." Despite the familiarity of his output, Harry Warren's name was never a household word: perhaps the more impressionable fans thought all those songs wrote themselves, or that someone more famous like Harold Arlen or Irving Berlin came up with them. Harry Warren's one chance for latter-day adulation was squelched when producer David Merrick, utilizing over a dozen Warren songs for his 1983 Broadway musical 42nd Street, perversely refused to put Warren's name on the advertising or in the programs! In recent years, singer/pianist Michael Feinstein has worked diligently in bringing the invaluable contributions of his late friend Harry Warren to the attention of audiences who'd grown up humming "Shuffle off to Buffalo" or "By a Waterfall" without ever knowing who'd put the notes on paper in the first place. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

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