TCM throws Loesser a 100th birthday party

Los Angeles: Broadway wizard Frank Loesser remains in style as the 100th anniversary of his birth approaches.

His 1962 "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," which captured both the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Awards, is returning to Broadway with Daniel Radcliffe. Loesser`s 1951 "Guys and Dolls," another Tony winner, has been revived repeatedly to the same cheers that greeted its debut.

Loesser, who was born June 29, 1910, in New York and died in 1969, will be feted by TCM on his birthday with a marathon of films that kicks off with 1967`s "How to Succeed" with original Broadway star Robert Morse (8 p.m. EDT).

Other movies airing include 1949`s "Neptune`s Daughter" with Esther Williams (and the witty tune "Baby, It`s Cold Outside") at midnight EDT and "Red, Hot and Blue" from 1949, starring Betty Hutton and with Loesser showing his hammy side as tough guy Hair-do Lempke (1:45 a.m. June 30).

"Heart & Soul: The Life and Music of Frank Loesser, a 2006 documentary airing 10:15 p.m. June 29, details his life and career, with memories from fellow songwriters and family, including daughter Susan, author of the Frank Loesser biography "A Most Remarkable Fella."

Loesser, who crafted both words and music for his stage shows and other popular tunes, was a hot-tempered genius. Among his admirers is jazzman Dave Frishberg ("Peel Me a Grape," "My Attorney Bernie"), who met Loesser in New York in the early years of Frishberg`s career.

"He was unique among all" of his contemporaries, Frishberg said. "He wrote in every style, but there was always a Loesser style to what he did."

Loesser had a surprising view of his own gifts, Frishberg discovered in conversation with him.

"I`m not a music guy, I`m a word guy," Loesser told him, perhaps the result of coming from a family that excelled in classical music.

Decades later, Frishberg still disagrees. In 2008, he and vocalist Rebecca Kilgore collaborated on the CD "Why Fight the Feeling? Songs by Frank Loesser."

"I just love the way he designed his songs. ... He was a very audacious composer. He wrote strange intervals and odd notes that may have been daunting for people to sing but gave the song such a distinct flavour," Frishberg said.

"He wrote stuff that`s going to last forever," he said.

Bureau Report


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