Lew Fields (1867-1941)
After parting ways with Joe Weber, Lew Fields starred in, produced and booked revues, suchs as About Town (1906.29) into his Herald Square Theatre.
Fields quickly outgrew his vaudeville background and produced musicals by many composers, including:
John Raymond Hubbell (The Midnight Sons, 1909.11 and The Jolly Bachelors, 1910.01, both orchestrated by Frank Saddler);
Victor Herbert (The Rose of Algeria, 1909.23);
Silvio Hein (The Yankee Girl, 1910.08);
Alfred Baldwin Sloane (The Summer Widowers, 1910.16; The Hen-Pecks, 1911.05; The Never Homes, 1911.35; and Hanky Panky, 1912.25);
Richard Rodgers (Poor Little Ritz Girl, 1920.25; The Girl Friend, 1926.07; Peggy-Ann, 1926.50; A Connecticut Yankee, 1927.56; Present Arms, 1928.16; and Chee-Chee, 1928.30);
Vincent Youmans (Hit the Deck!, 1927.16);
Jimmy McHugh (Hello Daddy, 1928.50).
Fields’ children, Joseph, Herbert and Dorothy, were also active in the musical theatre.
Lew’s younger son, Herb, was a close friend of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart; together, they would work as a team on many shows, starting with Dearest Enemy (1925.31), and continuing with a series of shows produced by Herb’s father. Starting in 1929, Herb became the librettist for many of the Cole Porter shows, finishing with Mexican Hayride (1944.02). His last major show was Annie Get Your Gun (1946.12), when he teamed up with his sister, Dorothy, on the book.
The older son, Joseph, served in WWI, stayed in France for a number of years and then returned to the United States to work on films in Hollywood. He was drawn back to New York and began a long-term collaboration with Jerome Chodorov, with whom he wrote a number of plays and musicals, such as My Sister Eileen and its musical adaptation, the Tony-award winning Wonderful Town (1953.03), with music by Leonard Bernstein. Joseph teamed up with Anita Loos to adapt her novel into the libretto for Gentlemen Prefer Blonds (1949.18, with music by Jule Styne). His last major effort was to co-author the libretto with Oscar Hammerstein II for the Rodgers and Hammerstein hit, Flower Drum Song (1958.19).
Lew’s daughter, Dorothy, overcame opposition from her father to become one of the greatest lyricists of her era. She started writing lyrics for McHugh in 1928 for some of the songs in Blackbirds of 1928 and continued working with McHugh until 1935. Some of their great collaborations gave us such memorable songs as: “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” “Exactly Like You” and “On the Sunny Side of the Street.”
In addition, Dorothy wrote the lyrics for the songs added to the movie version of Jerome Kern’s Roberta (“I Won’t Dance” and “Lovely to Look At” in 1935) and wrote the lyrics for Kern’s songs in the movie Swing Time in 1936.
Listen to Nina Simone play and sing “Exactly Like You.”
Now listen to the song “I Won’t Dance” from the movie adaptation of the stage show, Roberta (1935).
Dorothy (lyrics), Herb (book) and Lew (producer) worked together on McHugh’s Hello Daddy (1928.50), with the musical numbers staged by Busby Berkeley.
Dorothy’s later works included Annie Get Your Gun (with brother Herb) in 1946, Redhead in 1959, Sweet Charity in 1966 and Seesaw in 1973.