Sammy Cahn - Writer

Lyricist. Nationality: American. Born: Samuel Cohen in New York City, 18 June 1913. Family: Married 1) Gloria Delson, 1945 (divorced 1964); one son and one daughter; 2) Tita Curtis, 1970. Career: Violinist in vaudeville band, then formed band with Saul Chaplin; lyricist from 1935, often working with composers Jules Styne, Jimmy Van Heusen; 1974—appeared on Broadway in Words and Music . Awards: Academy Awards for songs "Three Coins in the Fountain," 1954; "All the Way," 1957; "High Hopes," 1959; "Call Me Irresponsible," 1963. Died: 15 January 1993.

Films as Lyricist:


Argentine Nights (Rogell); Ladies Must Live (Smith)


Time Out for Rhythm (Salkow); Go West , Young Lady (Strayer); Sing for Your Supper (Barton); Rookies on Parade (Santley); Two Latins from Manhattan (Barton); Honolulu Lu (Barton)

Sammy Cahn
Sammy Cahn


Two Yanks in Trinidad (Ratoff); Johnny Doughboy (Auer); Blondie Goes to College (Strayer); Blondie's Blessed Event (Strayer); Youth on Parade (Rogell)


Crazy House (Cline); Lady of Burlesque (Wellman); Let's Face It (Lanfield); Thumbs Up (Santley); The Heat's On (Ratoff)


Follow the Boys (Sutherland); Knickerbocker Holiday (Brown); Jam Session (Barton); Carolina Blues (Jason); Step Lively (Whelan); Jamie (Curtiz); A Song to Remember (C. Vidor); Tonight and Every Night (Saville)


Anchors Aweigh (Sidney); The Stork Club (Walker); Thrill of a Romance (Thorpe)


The Kid from Brooklyn (McLeod); Cinderella Jones (Berkeley); Earl Carroll Sketchbook (Rogell); Tars and Spars (Green); The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi (Bernhard); It Happened in Brooklyn (Whorf)


Ladies Man (Russell)


Romance on the High Seas (Curtiz); Sons of Adventure (Canutt); Two Guys from Texas (Butler); Miracle of the Bells (Pichel)


It's a Great Feeling (Butler); Borderline (Seiter); Always Leave Them Laughing (Del Ruth); Anna Lucasta (Rapper)


Young Man with a Horn (Curtiz); The Toast of New Orleans (Taurog); The West Point Story (Del Ruth)


Rich, Young and Pretty (Taurog); Sugarfoot (Marin); Two Tickets to Broadway (Kern); Double Dynamite (Cummings)


April in Paris (Butler); She's Working Her Way Through College (Humberstone); Stazione Termini ( Indiscretion of an American Wife ) (De Sica)


Because You're Mine (Hall); Peter Pan (Luske, Geronimi, and Jackson); Three Sailors and a Girl (Del Ruth) (+ pr)


Three Coins in the Fountain (Negulesco); Vera Cruz (Aldrich)


The Tender Trap (Walters); Love Me or Leave Me (C. Vidor); The Court Jester (Panama and Frank); Anything Goes (Lewis); Pete Kelly's Blues (Webb); You're Never Too Young (Taurog); How to Be Very, Very Popular (Johnson); Ain't Misbehavin' (Buzzell); The Seven Year Itch (Wilder)


Meet Me in Las Vegas (Rowland); Written on the Wind (Sirk); Quincannon, Frontier Scout (Selander); Serenade (A. Mann); Somebody Up There Likes Me (Wise); Forever Darling (Hall); The Opposite Sex (Miller) Pardners (Taurog); Beau James (Shavelson)


Pal Joey (Sidney); The Joker Is Wild (C. Vidor); Until They Sail (Wise); Ten Thousand Bedrooms (Thorpe); Don't Go Near the Water (Walters); This Could Be the Night (Wise)


The Long Hot Summer (Ritt); Indiscreet (Donen); Paris Holiday (Oswald); Some Came Running (Minnelli); Home Before Dark (LeRoy); Rock-a-Bye Baby (Tashlin); The Sound and the Fury (Ritt); Party Girl (Ray); Kings Go Forth (Daves)


A Hole in the Head (Capra); Who Was That Lady? (Sidney); The Best of Everything (Negulesco); Career (Anthony); They Came to Cordura (Rossen); This Earth Is Mine (H. King); Say One for Me (Tashlin); Holiday for Lovers (Levin); Journey to the Center of the Earth (Levin); Night of the Quarter Moon (Haas)


High Time (Edwards); Wake Me When It's Over (LeRoy); Let's Make Love (Cukor); Oceans Eleven (Milestone); The World of Suzie Wong (Quine)


The Pleasure of His Company (Seaton); Pocketful of Miracles (Capra); By Love Possessed (J. Sturges)


Boys' Night Out (Gordon); The Road to Hong Kong (Panama); How the West Was Won (Ford, Marshall, and Hathaway); Gigot (Kelly)


My Six Loves (Champion); Papa's Delicate Condition (Marshall); Come Fly with Me (Levin); Come Blow Your Horn (Yorkin); Johnny Cool (Asher); Under the Yum Yum Tree (Swift); 4 for Texas (Aldrich)


Robin and the 7 Hoods (Douglas); Honeymoon Hotel (Levin); Looking for Love (Weis); The Pleasure Seekers (Negulesco); Where Love Has Gone (Dmytryk)


Licensed to Kill ( The Second Best Secret Agent in the Whole Wide World ) (Shonteff) (song in US version)


The Oscar (Rouse); Texas Across the River (Gordon)


The Bobo (Parrish); Thoroughly Modern Millie (Hill); The Cool Ones (Nelson); The Odd Couple (Saks); Jack and the Beanstalk (Kelly)


Star! (Wise); A Flea in Her Ear (Charon); Bandolero! (McLaglen)


The Great Bank Robbery (Averback)


Journey Back to Oz (Sutherland)


The Heartbreak Kid (May); A Touch of Class (Frank)


Paper Tiger (Annakin)


Whiffs (Post); I Will, I Will . . . for Now (Panama)


The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox (Frank) (co)


Fingers (Toback)


The Stud (Masters)


Heidi's Song (Taylor—animation)


By CAHN: book—

I Should Care (autobiography), New York, 1974.

On CAHN: articles—

Craig, Warren, in The Great Songwriters of Hollywood , San Diego, California, 1980.

Schwartz, Jonathan, "Call him irreplaceable," in Gentleman's Quarterly , July 1991.

Frank, Michael, "Sammy Cahn," in Architectural Digest , April 1992.

Obituary in Variety , 25 January 1993.

Obituary in Classic Images (Muscatine), April 1993.

* * *

Sammy Cahn was one of the mainstays of Hollywood's popular music industry during its Golden Age from the 1930s to the 1960s. In a remarkable career from 1942 to 1975 he worked as a lyricist with four different composers to garner some 25 Academy Award nominations for best original song. He won four times and will always be remembered for the words to such popular classics as "Three Coins in the Fountain," "All the Way," and "High Hopes." Cahn proved to be a survivor by adapting to the changing musical tastes of a nation. From the Broadway-inspired musical tunes of the 1940s he moved smoothly to ballads for the 1950s and 1960s.

Songwriter Jules Styne and lyricist Cahn churned out hit after hit during the 1940s. They were one of a select team of composer/lyricists who wrote the year's top ten hits, year in and year out. In the 1940s the movies, by and large, introduced the major popular musical hits, and Styne and Cahn contrived their share for such stars as Frank Sinatra in Anchors Aweigh and Danny Kaye in The Kid from Brooklyn .

But movie music moved into different forms, and Cahn, ever the professional, adapted. In the 1950s he teamed with Nicholas Brodszky to write several forgettable songs from movies such as The Toast of New Orleans and Love Me or Leave Me . But with "Three Coins in the Fountain," a major hit in 1953, Cahn's career was off again. The reason was a new partner, Jimmy Van Heusen, and the renewed career of hit-maker Frank Sinatra.

The late 1950s and the early 1960s were a "Golden Age" for Cahn and Van Heusen. Together with Sinatra they provided hit after hit in the face of a revolution in popular music—rock and roll. "All the Way" and "High Hopes" came to be Sinatra standards. Unfortunately the Sinatra rage ended with the coming of the Beatles. Yet Cahn and Van Heusen kept on with the formula music which had worked so well before, and provided the forgettable theme song from the gigantic bust Star! Musical idioms had changed and the contributions of Sammy Cahn would fade into the world of nostalgia.

Sammy Cahn, thus, stands as yet another example of the multitude of top professionals who labored to create the great Hollywood movies of the past. Though working in a niche of the business that is not often taken very seriously, Cahn does deserve a note as one of the film industry's (as well as the popular music industry's) great talents.

—Douglas Gomery

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