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A Most Remarkable Fella: Frank Loesser and the Guys and Dolls in His Life: A Portrait by His Daughter Paperback – September 1, 2000
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From Publishers Weekly
In this engaging biography, the daughter of popular composer and lyricist Frank Loesser (1910-1969) recalls her father's life and work, weaving into the story an account of her own difficult childhood, which was marred by the alcoholism of her mother and the divorce of her parents. In his pursuit of a career in the theater, Loesser broke away from the conventions of his intellectual Manhattan family and affected a Lower East Side accent and a working-class persona. Nevertheless, even after achieving success with such Broadway hits as Guys and Dolls, The Most Happy Fella and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying , he struggled to win the respect of his brother, a critic and musicologist who disdained popular music, and of his mother, who was equally scornful of his work. Loesser was a difficult man with a violent temper, but he could be a loving father, and his daughter, a freelance writer, tells her tale with affection in a lively book studded with humorous anecdotes and numerous lyrics from her father's memorable songs. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Kirkus Reviews
Engaging life of brilliant lyricist, songwriter, and composer Frank Loesser (1910-69), whose genius with words brings life to this loving biography by his daughter (a journalist, editor, geologist, etc., who's been published in Life and Family Circle). Much of the charm here lies in Frank Loesser's never failing ingenuity as Susan Loesser quotes his lyrics, letters, and notes for stage productions. The composer spent his life in the emotional shadow of his older brother Arthur, a gifted classical pianist and teacher, and of their mother, Julia, for whom young Frank's Pulitzer-winning Broadway endeavors lacked intellectual refinement. Loesser could never satisfy either family member, even when his most ambitious work, The Most Happy Fella, was praised for its immense variety of musical forms and operatic scope. Loesser, though an apparent egomaniac, thought himself a comparative failure and would put himself down as just an entertainer writing for the moment, future glory not required. Meanwhile, the composer's first wife, Mary, Susan's mother, who was ``pathologically meticulous,'' survived her divorce from Frank by resorting to alcohol and working as a tough-talking Broadway producer. Loesser was a famous Hollywood lyricist before making the big leap to Broadway with Where's Charley?, writing both music and lyrics, then with the quintessential New York musical, Guys and Dolls, his greatest hit. Throughout, the author quotes passages cut out of her father's shows, including from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. The composer died of cancer at 59--when, we learn, he was already being swamped from all sides by detested rock music that was making him old hat. Though foulmouthed, Loesser grows on you wonderfully through his daughter's eyes. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Think of it this way: the same guy who wrote "Once in Love with Amy" wrote "Baby, It's Cold Outside," not to mention "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition" and "Inchworm." There were, of course, many, many other classics, but the variety alone is staggering. Over the years, as I grew up, I might hear my dad singing a bit of "Standing on the Corner," or my mom singing "A Bushel and a Peck" or "I Believe in You." When I found out later in life that all of these songs were written by the same person, I was astonished! And he wrote both music and lyrics for most of his songs.
Susan Loesser's book puts her dad's creative process in focus, but her book also paints an honest portrait of a man ruthlessly driven toward perfection and success. So clever, that his letters and conversations were sprinkled with great lines, it seems he was always "on." A Most Remarkable Fella is a compelling look at Frank Loesser as both an unsurpassed artist and a flawed man.
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Not much except perhaps passion.Read more