B. G. (Buddy) DeSylva (1895-1950)

Born in New York but raised in Southern California, Buddy DeSylva came to Broadway at the invitation of Al Jolson.  He wrote the lyrics for songs in collaboration with others, his best known collaboration being with Ray Henderson and Lew Brown.  He was also a Broadway producer, a Hollywood producer, the one time head of Paramount Pictures, a music publisher and a record executive at Capitol Records.

Times Magazine Cover Photo of Ethel Merman in Cole Porter's show Panama Hattie

Ethel Merman

As a producer, DeSylva worked to bring two Cole Porter shows to Broadway:  DuBarry Was a Lady (1939.30) and Panama Hattie (1940.19). He co-authored the books for both shows with Herb Fields.  Robert Russell Bennett and Ted Royal did the orchestrations for DuBarry Was a Lady; Hugh Martin wrote the choral arrangements; and Ethel Merman, Betty Grable and Bert Lahr starred in the show. It ran for 408 performances.  Bennett, Hans Spialek and Don Walker wrote the orchestrations for Panama Hattie, and Rags Ragland, Merman, Betty Hutton, James Dunn and Arthur Treacher were notables in the cast for a show that ran for 501 performances.

DeSylva also produced Irving Berlin’s Louisiana Purchase (1940.08); Morrie Ryskind wrote the book, based on a story by DeSylva.  The ballets were choreographed by George Balanchine; Bennett did the orchestrations; and William Gaxton, Victor Moore, Vera Zorina and Irene Bordoni starred.  It ran for a total of 444 performances.

Album Cover Art CD release of Irving Berlin's show Louisiana Purchase

Louisiana Purchase