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Classiscsonline Home » Composers » R » Rose, Billy

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Billy Rose (9/06/1899 - 2/10/1966)

William Samuel Rosenberg
Composer, Lyricist, Night Club and Theater Owner, Film and Broadway Producer, Columnist

Billy Rose was not only a successful nightclub owner but enjoyed a career on Broadway as a songwriter, lyricist, producer. During the 1920’s he wrote a string of hits including “You Tell Her, I Stutter” (1920), “Does the Spearmint Lose Its Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight?” (1924), “Tonight You Belong to Me” (1926), and “Me and My Shadow” (1927).

While Rose has been described as small in stature he more than made up for it in largesse of ego and bravado. His nickname “the little Napoleon of showmanship” was well earned, and while his co-writers would sometimes dispute his contribution they were more than willing to allow him to negotiate with the music publishers on their behalf.

In 1935 Rose became a household name after producing the musical extravaganza Jumbo complete with circus acts, wild animals and a Rodgers and Hart score. After the Second World War Rose wrote a weekly syndicated column called “Pitching Horseshoes” which ran in over 200 newspapers across the United States. The Billy Rose Theatre Collection of The New York Public Library is one of the largest and most comprehensive archives devoted to the theatrical arts. His divorce from the actress Eleanor Holm would be coined “the war of the Roses” by the press.

-- Ben Maycock



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