Com­poser penned time­less songs that re­main old friends

Orlando Sentinel - - PEOPLE & ARTS - By Hal Boedeker Email me at [email protected]­lan­dosen­ Want more TV and movie news? Go to or­lan­dosen­

Com­poser Jerry Her­man's songs thrive out­side his Broad­way mu­si­cals.

The words and mu­sic of Her­man, who died Thurs­day at 88, will cap­ti­vate gen­er­a­tions to come. He cer­tainly got a thrilling fore­taste of his legacy when “Wall-E” opened in 2008. In that Dis­ney-Pixar clas­sic, a ro­bot 700 years in the fu­ture loves hear­ing “Put on Your Sun­day Clothes” and “It Only Takes a Mo­ment” from “Hello, Dolly!”

You never had to go near a Broad­way theater to ap­pre­ci­ate the ti­tle song of “Hello, Dolly!” Louis Arm­strong trans­formed it into a stan­dard in 1964 and helped Her­man win the Grammy for Song of the Year.

“I Am What I Am” from “La Cage aux Folles” has be­come an en­dur­ing gay an­them prized for Her­man's lyrics. They in­clude “Your life is a sham/Till you can shout out/I am what I am.” Ge­orge Hearn in­tro­duced the song on Broad­way, then Glo­ria Gaynor and Shirley Bassey put their stamps on it. The Bassey ver­sion is par­tic­u­larly rous­ing.

Her­man knew how to write a torch song. Ey­die Gormé won a Grammy for her soaring take on “If He Walked into My Life” from “Mame.”

The show “Mack & Ma­bel” was a flop, yet “Time Heals Ev­ery­thing” is a glo­ri­ous stan­dard. In­tro­duced by Ber­nadette Peters, the num­ber is beloved by per­form­ers. Check the Bar­bara Cook ver­sion.

Jerry Her­man stands in the tra­di­tion of Irv­ing Ber­lin. Both com­posers are di­rect, op­ti­mistic and de­cep­tively sim­ple. Ber­lin gave us “Blue Skies,” and Her­man left us “The Best of Times” and “Be­fore the Pa­rade Passes By.”

Hol­ly­wood never did right by Her­man. Bar­bra Streisand is too young for the gar­gan­tuan “Hello, Dolly!” al­though she de­liv­ers the songs beau­ti­fully. Lu­cille Ball was mis­cast in “Mame.” Yet the songs live be­yond the movies, too.

When Her­man re­ceived the Kennedy Cen­ter Hon­ors in 2010, Carol Chan­ning,

Angela Lans­bury and Chita Rivera ser­e­naded him with “The Best of Times.”

Her­man's songs are like old friends, and they re­mind us, “Make this mo­ment last/ Be­cause the best of times is now.”


Ca­role Chan­ning, left, and tele­vi­sion per­son­al­ity Bar­bara Wal­ters look over a pro­gram with Her­man at a Broad­way Theater on Sept. 1, 1981.


Award-win­ning com­poser Jerry Her­man died on Thurs­day at age 88. His songs con­tinue to thrive out­side of Broad­way.

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