Cy Coleman

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Cy Coleman (14 June 1929 - 18 November 2004) was an American composer and musician who worked chiefly in the fields of jazz and musical theatre. Coleman is best remembered for his collaborations with lyricist Carolyn Leigh which included the songs 'Witchcraft' and 'The Best Is Yet To Come' and for the score to the musical Sweet Charity, which introduced the number 'Big Spender'.


Born and raised in the Bronx, New York City, as Seymour Kaufman, son of Russian immigrant parents, he was a child prodigy, playing prestigious piano recitals at venues including Carnegie Hall before the age of 10. He was classically trained in performance, composition and orchestration at the New York College of Music, but discovered a passion for jazz and formed the Cy Coleman Trio, which became popular both live and on record.

During the 1950s, he began to experience success writing popular songs alongside lyricists Joseph A. McCarthy and Carolyn Leigh, their songs being recorded by prominent artists such as Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett.

In 1997, he married Shelby Brown. Their daughter, Lily Cye, was born in 2000. He continued to work on new recordings and musicals and to be a part of the New York theatrical 'scene' until he died of a heart attack in November 2004, only days after being honoured at the second annual Johnny Mercer Award Gala.



Film scores

Theatre scores

Following interpolations into revues and incidental music, Cy Coleman's first full score for Broadway was for Wildcat, a 1960 vehicle for Lucille Ball (as an oil prospector) with lyrics by Carolyn Leigh and book by N. Richard Nash. The musical was not a big success and closed when the star departed early due to illness, but it did create a hit song in 'Hey, Look Me Over', a jaunty march which opened the show.

Coleman's next score with Leigh was more accomplished, but it was also their final theatrical collaboration. Little Me had a book by Neil Simon, adapted from Patrick Dennis' novel, and chronicled the rise and rise of heroine Belle Poitrine, though the true star of the show was Sid Caesar, who played seven different roles, each of the most significant men in Belle's life. More successful than Wildcat, the show was still not a huge success on Broadway, but a London production starring Bruce Forsyth achieved a lengthy run. The Coleman-Leigh score was strongest where comedy was concerned, but it also included a sweet waltz about a first dance, 'Real Live Girl', which was recorded a number of times.