Richard Adler (born August 3, 1921) is an American lyricist, composer and producer of several Broadway shows.
Born in New York City, Adler had a musical upbringing, his father being a concert pianist. After serving in the navy he began his career as a lyricist, teaming up with Jerry Ross in 1950. As a duo they worked in tandem, both taking credit for lyrics and music.
The Adler & Ross Years (1950-1955)
After establishing their partnership, Adler and Ross quickly became proteges of composer/lyricist/publisher Frank Loesser. Their first notable composition was the song Rags to Riches, which was recorded by Tony Bennett and reached number 1 on the charts in late 1953.
At the same time Bennett's recording was topping the charts, Adler and Ross began their career in the Broadway Theater with John Murray Anderson's Almanac, a revue for which they provided most of the songs.
Adler and Ross's second Broadway effort, The Pajama Game, opened in May 1954 and was a big popular as well as a critical success, winning Tony Awards as well as the Donaldson Award and the Variety Drama Critics Award. Three songs from the show were covered by popular artists and made the upper reaches of the US Hit Parade: Patti Page's version of "Steam Heat" reached #9; Archie Bleyer took "Hernando's Hideaway" to #2; and Rosemary Clooney's recording of "Hey There" made it all the way to #1.
Opening almost exactly a year later, their next vehicle, Damn Yankees replicated the awards and success of the earlier show. Cross-over hits from the show were "Heart", recorded by Eddie Fisher and "Whatever Lola Wants", by Sarah Vaughan.
The duo had authored the music and lyrics for three great Broadway successes in three years, and had seen over a half-dozen of their songs reach the US top ten, two of them peaking at #1. However, their partnership was cut short when Ross died in November 1955, aged 29.
Adler continued to write both alone and with other partners, and composed a major 1958 hit in collaboration with Robert Allen: "Everybody Loves a Lover", as recorded by Doris Day. However, after 1955 Adler had no further successes on Broadway either as a composer or a producer, although revivals of The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees have proved popular. He wrote the musical Olympus 7-0000 for the show ABC Stage 67. The 1973 revival of The Pajama Game included one new Adler song, which was retained for the 2006 revival.
Adler's last original Broadway musical was 1976's Music Is (lyrics by Will Holt, music by Adler) which was based on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.
In 2000, Debelah Morgan based her song "Dance With Me" on a sample of the Adler & Ross song "Hernando's Hideaway" from The Pajama Game. Adler & Ross consequently received co-composer credits on the track, which reached #8 on the US Billboard charts -- and made Adler the unlikely 79-year-old co-composer of a 21st-century popular R&B hit.
In 2001, some Adler & Ross songs originally written for The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees were featured in the Broadway musical Fosse, about the work of Bob Fosse.
Adler has two sons Andrew and Christopher (d. 1984), and a daughter Katherine Adler.
Broadway and television work
As composer/lyricist, unless otherwise noted:
John Murray Anderson's Almanac – Musical December 10, 1953–June 26, 1954 (with Jerry Ross)
The Pajama Game – Musical, Comedy May 13, 1954–November 24, 1956 (with Jerry Ross)
Damn Yankees – Musical, Comedy May 5, 1955–October 12, 1957 (with Jerry Ross)
The Sin of Pat Muldoon – Play March 13, 1957–March 16, 1957 (Producer only - no music in play)
Gift of the Magi – TV musical featuring then wife Sally Ann Howes. December 9, 1958
Kwamina – Musical. Featured then-wife Sally Ann Howes. October 23, 1961–November 18, 1961
A Mother's Kisses – September 21 to October 19, 1968 – three weeks of out-of-town tryouts in New Haven and Baltimore only. It was cancelled before it reached Broadway. Featured Bea Arthur and Bernadette Peters
Rex – Musical April 25, 1976–June 5, 1976 (Producer only. Music by Richard Rogers, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick)
Music Is – Musical comedy December 20, 1976–December 26, 1976 (Composer only. Lyrics by Will Holt.)
Fosse – Musical, Revue, Dance January 14, 1999–August 25, 2001 (Includes Adler & Ross works originally written for Damn Yankees and The Pajama Game)
Awards, nominations and honors
Richard Adler with Lee Davis (1990). You Gotta Have Heart. Donald I. Fine, Inc.. ISBN 1-55611-201-7.