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Overview for Hugh Martin
Hugh Martin

Hugh Martin



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Also Known As: Died:
Born: August 11, 1914 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Birmingham, Alabama, USA Profession: Music ... composer musician arranger actor singer


After making his Broadway acting debut in the short-lived musical "Hooray for What!" (1937), for which he also created the vocal arrangements, Hugh Martin went to work for Richard Rodgers on "The Boys from Syracuse" (1938), arranging the show-stopping "Sing for Your Supper." In 1941, he and writing partner Ralph Blane had a hit with "Best Foot Forward" starring Nancy Walker. The pair was invited to join MGM's illustrious music unit under Arthur Freed where they oversaw the 1943 film version of their Broadway success. Martin subsequently received Best Song Oscar nominations (with Blane) for "The Trolley Song" from "Meet Me in St. Louis" (1944) and "Pass the Peace Pipe" from "Good News" (1947, also with Roger Edens). Judy Garland's pianist for her NYC Palace appearances in 1951, he walked off the set of "A Star Is Born" (1954) when he clashed with the singer over her interpretation of the song "The Man That Got Away."

Preferring the collaboration of the theater over that of the movies, Martin was instrumental in the creation of shows like "Look Ma, I'm Dancin'" (1948) and "High Spirits" (1964), working with such theater luminaries as Jerome Robbins, George Abbott and Gower Champion. He reteamed with Blane to write 10 new songs for the 1989 Broadway production of "Meet Me in St. Louis," earning a Tony nomination, and is still busy in his 80s, having written new songs (with Timothy Gray) for "I Will Come Back," a 1998 off-Broadway tribute to Garland, as well as the music and lyrics for "Maggie & Jiggs," a new show workshopped in San Diego that same year.

Although the biggest hit from the "Meet Me in St. Louis" score was "The Trolley Song," Martin's favorite, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," has demonstrated much more staying power and is the composer's most recognizable tune. In the 80s and 90s, it graced "When Harry Met Sally ..." (1989), "While You Were Sleeping" (1995) and "Donnie Brasco" (1997), to name just a few of its movie appearances, proving it has become a modern Christmas classic, right up there with Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" and Mel Torme's "The Christmas Song" ("Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire"), among others.

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