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Jerry Ross and “Hernando’s Hideaway”

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Jerry Ross (March 9, 1926 – November 11, 1955), born Jerold Rosenberg, was an American lyricist and composer whose works with Richard Adler for the musical theater include The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees, winners of Tony Awards in 1955 and 1956, respectively, in both the “Best Musical” and “Best Composer and Lyricist” categories.  Ross was born on March 9, 1926, to Russian immigrant parents, Lena and Jacob Rosenberg, in the Bronx, New York City, NY. Growing up, he was a professional singer and actor in the Yiddish theater, where he was billed as the “Boy Star.”  Following high school he studied at New York University under Rudolph Schramm. Introductions to singer Eddie Fisher and others brought him into contact with music publishers at the Brill Building, the center of songwriting activity in New York.   Fisher later had a hit with Ross’ The Newspaper Song.

Ross met Richard Adler in 1950, and as a duo they became protégés of the great composer, lyricist, and publisher Frank Loesser. Their song Rags to Riches was recorded by Tony Bennett and reached number 1 on the charts in 1953.  Adler and Ross began their career in the Broadway Theater with John Murray Anderson’s Almanac, a revue for which they provided most of the songs, resulting in recordings of Acorn in the Meadow by Harry Belafonte and Fini by Polly Bergen.  Adler and Ross’s second effort, The Pajama Game, opened in May 1954. It was a big popular as well as critical success, winning Tony Awards as well as the Donaldson Award and the Variety Drama Critics Award. Two songs from the show, Hernando’s Hideaway (for Archie Bleyer) and Hey There (for Rosemary Clooney), topped the Hit Parade. Other notable songs were Steam Heat (famously choreographed on stage by Bob Fosse), Small Talk, and Seven And A Half Cents.

Opening almost exactly a year later, Ross and Adler’s next vehicle, Damn Yankees, replicated the awards and success of the earlier show. Cross-over hits from the show were Heart, recorded by Eddie Fisher, and Whatever Lola Wants for Sarah Vaughan.  Both shows ran on Broadway for over 1000 performances.  Ross died aged 29 in New York City, NY, on November 11, 1955, at the age of 29, from complications related to the lung disease bronchiectasis. In his short life Ross was extremely productive; he wrote, alone or in collaboration, more than 250 songs in addition to his theatre work.  Ross was entered posthumously into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1982, his wife, Judy, and daughter, Janie, accepting on his behalf.

The following works by Jerry Ross are contained in my collection:

Damn Yankees (1955): Whatever Lola Wants (Lola Gets).

The Pajama Game (1954): Hernando’s Hideaway.

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