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Musicals

Dorothy Fields

A lyricist and librettist whose work embraces the bouncy optimism of “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” the brassy seductiveness of “Hey, Big Spender,” and the tender musings of “The Way You Look Tonight,” Dorothy Fields wrote the words to more than four hundred songs in a career that spanned half a century.

Louise Dresser

Louise Dresser was a celebrated singer in vaudeville and musical comedy, as well as a star in early motion pictures. She adopted the stage name of Louise Dresser after the songwriter Paul Dresser, an acquaintance of her father, encouraged her to use his name as a strategy for her to gain greater recognition on stage. This ruse, along with several of Paul Dresser’s famous songs, indeed improved Dresser’s drawing power in vaudeville, and she was often believed to be the sister both of Paul Dresser and novelist Theodore Dreiser (Paul Dresser’s brother). Known largely for her rendition of Paul Dresser’s song “My Gal Sal,” she also sang his “On the Banks of the Wabash.”

Betty Comden

Beginning with On the Town (1944) and continuing with The Will Rogers Follies (1991), Betty Comden’s long career as librettist and lyricist for Broadway and Hollywood has included many classics of American musical comedy. With her partner Adolph Green, Comden has written lyrics and/or librettos for such hits of stage and screen as The Barkleys of Broadway (1949), Singin’ in the Rain (1952), Wonderful Town (1953), The Band Wagon (1953), Peter Pan (1953), Bells Are Ringing (1956), the film version of Auntie Mame (1958), Say Darling (1958), Applause (1970), and On the Twentieth Century (1978).

Nora Bayes

Nora Bayes was an international singing star in vaudeville and musical comedy during the first twenty-five years of the twentieth century. Known as a willful and temperamental star, Bayes relied on her own charisma and popularity as she resisted managerial control and ignored the details of legal contracts.

Belle Baker

Belle Baker has been described as a famed torch singer and vaudeville star, as well as a Yiddish, Broadway, and motion picture actor.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Musicals." (Viewed on December 18, 2017) <https://jwa.org/topics/musicals>.

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