Carolyn Leigh inducted into Songwriters Hall of Fame
January 1, 1985
Carolyn Leigh wrote hundreds of tunes for Broadway, TV, and film and was twice nominated for a Tony award. She was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame two years after her death.
New York-born Leigh began her music career early, writing her first songs at the age of nine. By the time she was 25, she had already written more than 200 songs. Her first hit was “Young At Heart,” originally written for Johnny Richards but popularized by Frank Sinatra.
After her success with “Young at Heart,” Leigh went on to write songs for such musical greats as Rosemary Clooney, Pat Boone, and Peggy Lee. Among her most famous works are the songs she co-wrote for the Broadway show “Peter Pan” starring Mary Martin, including the classic “I Won't Grow Up.”
Leigh formed an often rocky partnership with composer Cy Coleman on Broadway shows “Wildcat” and “Little Me”; the pair was nominated for a 1963 Tony Award for Best Composer and Lyricist for “Little Me,” which was also nominated for Best Musical. Following her stormy relationship with Coleman, Leigh went on to work with composer Elmer Bernstein on the score of the Broadway show “How Now, Dow Jones,” which was based on her story ideas. The show initially received poor reviews, but Leigh and Bernstein received a 1968 Tony Award nomination for Best Composer and Lyricist.
Leigh was not limited to Broadway; her work also appeared in a number of movies and in the TV special “Heidi.” Although she originally penned the hit “The Best is Yet to Come” for Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, and Michael Bublé have all recorded it.
Carolyn Leigh died of a heart attack in 1983 while working with Marvin Hamlisch on a musical adaptation of the film “Smile.”