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Overview for Betty Comden
Betty Comden

Betty Comden


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Also Known As: Elizabeth Cohen Died: November 23, 2006
Born: May 3, 1919 Cause of Death: heart failure
Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York, USA Profession: Music ... lyricist screenwriter playwright actor


With her writing partner Adolph Green (to whom she is not married), Betty Comden has been responsible for some of the most acclaimed and beloved musicals both on film and on stage. She and Green began their collaboration in 1939 when they formed (with Judy Holliday) "The Revuers," a cabaret act. Their success in such venues as the Village Vanguard and the Blue Angel led to several TV appearances as well. In 1944, Comden and Green wrote their first stage musical, "On the Town," adapted from a Jerome Robbins' ballet that traced one day in the life of three sailors on leave in NYC. They subsequently provided the lyrics (for composers ranging from Leonard Bernstein to Jule Styne to Cy Coleman), book or both for "Wonderful Town" (1953), "Bells Are Ringing" (1957), written especially for Judy Holliday, "Do Re Mi" (1960), "Hallelujah Baby!" (1967), "Applause" (1970), "On the Twentieth Century" (1978), "A Doll's Life" (1982) and "The Will Rogers Follies" (1991). Many of their memorable songs from these shows have become minor classics, like "Ohio" from "Wonderful Town," "The Party's Over" from "Bells Are Ringing" and "Make Someone Happy" from "Do Re Mi."

Comden and Green segued to the big screen with their screenplay for the remake of the 20s hit "Good News" (1947). The pair also wrote the witty musical "The Barkleys of Broadway" (1949), which brought Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers together after ten years. The same year, they provide lyrics for the Gene Kelly vehicle "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." In 1952, they provided the brilliant structure for what many consider to be the greatest movie musical, "Singin' in the Rain." The following year, Comden and Green adapted the stage musical "The Band Wagon" and provided Astaire with one of his best screen roles. The duo adapted their own "Bells Are Ringing" (1960) and wrote the non-musical screenplay for "Auntie Mame" (1958).

Comden has sporadically worked as a performer. On stage, she was featured in "On the Town" and she and Green won kudos for their revue "A Party With Betty Comden and Adolph Green" (first performed in 1957), a collection of sketches and songs. Comden turned in a fine comic portrayal of a Jewish mother in Wendy Wasserstein's off-Broadway hit, "Isn't It Romantic" (1984- 85). On film, the petite, dark-haired, throaty-voiced Comden was featured in "Greenwich Village" (1944), played the reclusive screen legend in "Garbo Talks" (1984) and appeared in James Ivory's "Slaves of New York" (1989).

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