Perhaps best remembered as the writer and composer of the ever-popular Guys and Dolls and the Pulitzer Prize–winning How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Frank Loesser was one of the great songwriters of the twentieth century. Lyricist of over 700 songs—among them such cherished favorites as “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” “Once in Love with Amy,” and “I Believe in You”—his work has received both Tony and Academy Awards. Here Thomas L. Riis, in a deeply informed and lively discussion of Loesser’s life and musical career, presents a critical look at one of the most important—though often overshadowed—Broadway composers.
Immensely prolific and a personally magnetic man, Loesser was a major figure during the Broadway golden age that included Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe, and Bernstein. Riis traces Loesser’s early career as a Hollywood songwriter and a noted contributor to the war effort. He discusses in depth each of Loesser’s musicals and provides a look at the legacy of a man admired as a mentor who inspired dozens of assistants, protégés, young songwriters, novice singer-actors, and aspiring producers. This book offers a concise look at Loesser’s life along with an engaging examination of the totality of his works.