Fred Ebb (April 8, 1928 – September 11, 2004) was an American musical theatre lyricist who had many successful collaborations with composer John Kander. The Kander and Ebb team frequently wrote for such performers as Liza Minnelli and Chita Rivera.
|Born||April 8, 1928|
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
|Died||September 11, 2004 (aged 76)|
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Genres||Musical theatre, film, television|
|Associated acts||Kander and Ebb|
He worked during the early 1950s bronzing baby shoes, as a trucker's assistant, and was also employed in a department store credit office and at a hosiery company. He graduated from New York University with a bachelor's degree in English Literature, and also earned his master's degree in English from Columbia University.
One of his early collaborators was Phil Springer, and a song they wrote together ("I Never Loved Him Anyhow") was recorded by Carmen McRae in 1956. Another song Ebb wrote with Springer was "Heartbroken" (1953), which was recorded by Judy Garland, the mother of his future protégée, Liza Minnelli. Other Springer-Ebb tunes include "Moonlight Gambler" and "Nevertheless I Never Lost the Blues". "Don't Forget", which he wrote with Norman Leyden, was recorded by singer Eddy Arnold in 1954.
On his first theatrical writing job, he co-wrote the lyrics for the musical revue Baker's Dozen in 1951. He wrote songs with Norman Martin for the Off-Broadway revue Put It in Writing (1962). He also worked with composer Paul Klein from the early 1950s onward, contributing songs to the cabaret revue Isn't America Fun (1959) and the Broadway revue From A to Z (1960), directed by Christopher Hewett.
With Klein, Ebb wrote his first book musical, Morning Sun. Originally, Bob Fosse was attached as director. Fosse eventually withdrew from the project, and the show ran for 6 performances Off-Broadway in October 1963.
Music publisher Tommy Valando introduced Ebb to Kander in 1962. After a few songs such as "My Coloring Book," Kander and Ebb wrote a stage musical, Golden Gate, that was never produced. However, the quality of the score convinced producer Harold Prince to hire them for their first professional production, the George Abbott-directed musical Flora the Red Menace (1965), based on Lester Atwell's novel Love is Just Around the Corner. Although it won star Liza Minnelli a Tony Award, the show closed after only 87 performances.
Their second collaboration, Cabaret, was considerably more successful, running for 1,165-performances. Directed by Prince and based on the John Van Druten play I Am a Camera (which, in turn, was based on the writing of Christopher Isherwood), the musical starred Jill Haworth as Sally Bowles, Bert Convy as Clifford Bradshaw, Lotte Lenya as Fräulein Schneider and Joel Grey as the emcee. The original Broadway production opened on November 20, 1966 and won eight of the 11 Tony Awards for which it was nominated, including Best Musical and Best Score. Adapted into a film by Bob Fosse, it won eight Academy Awards, though not Best Picture. It was revived three times, first in 1987 with Grey reprising his role and again in 1998 in a long-running revival, originally starring Alan Cumming as the emcee and Natasha Richardson as Sally Bowles. The third revival began in 2014 and also starred Alan Cumming this time alongside Michelle Williams.
Their next few works were less successful: The Happy Time (1968), directed by Gower Champion and starring Robert Goulet, ran for less than a year. Zorba (1968), directed by Prince, also ran less than a year, though it was more successful in its 1983 revival; and 70, Girls, 70 (1971), which was originally intended as an off-Broadway production, closed after 35 performances.
In 1972, he wrote the television special, Liza with a Z for Liza Minnelli. In 1974, Kander, Ebb and Fosse contributed to a concert for Liza Minnelli on Broadway. In 1973 Ebb wrote the television special that marked Frank Sinatra's comeback from retirement, Magnavox Presents Frank Sinatra (also known as Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back). The show featured Sinatra and guest star Gene Kelly in duet on the song "Can't Do That Anymore", written by Ebb for his abandoned musical with Kander and Dale Wasserman, Wait for Me, World!. In 1975, the team wrote the score to Funny Lady, the sequel to Funny Girl.
Chicago (1975) had mixed reviews but ran for more than two years on Broadway. Starring Chita Rivera, Jerry Orbach and Gwen Verdon in her last Broadway role, it suffered from a cynical attitude, which contrasted with the record-breaking popularity of A Chorus Line. Though rumors of a film production directed again by Fosse were heard, the show was revived in 1996 as part of the Encores! staged concert series. A hit, the minimalist production transferred to Broadway, starring Ann Reinking (Roxie) and Bebe Neuwirth (Velma). The revival holds the record as the longest-running musical revival and the longest-running American musical in Broadway history. It is the second longest-running show in Broadway history, behind only The Phantom of the Opera, having played its 7,486th performance on November 23, 2014, surpassing Cats.
Ebb wrote the book for Shirley MacLaine’s Broadway solo revue in 1976. The following year, Kander and Ebb worked with Minnelli and Martin Scorsese twice: first, in the film New York, New York, which had them write what is their best-known song, the title track; and, again in The Act (1977) a musical about a fictional nightclub act. It ran for under ten months. After contributing a song to Phyllis Newman’s one-woman musical, The Madwoman of Central Park West (1979), the team wrote Woman of the Year (1981), which starred Lauren Bacall and won the team their second Tony Award for Best Score.
The Rink (1984) teamed Kander and Ebb again with Minnelli and Rivera. The cast also included Jason Alexander and Rob Marshall. Following the closure of the show after six months, Kander and Ebb would not produce new material, save for a song in Hay Fever in 1985, for nine years.
In 1991, the revue And The World Goes 'Round opened Off-Broadway, featuring Karen Ziemba, Susan Stroman and Scott Ellis. The team's musical adaptation of Kiss of the Spider Woman opened in 1993, starring Chita Rivera. Reunited with director Harold Prince, the show ran for more than two years and won them their third and last Tony Award for best score.
The team's last original work to reach Broadway during Ebb's life opened in 1997. Steel Pier brought together Ziemba, Ellis and Stroman and though the show was nominated for 11 Tonys, it won none and closed after two months. It also featured Kristin Chenoweth. In 1997, Ebb reworked lyrics to Richard Rodgers' melody for the television production of Cinderella. Two decades earlier, Ebb refused the opportunity to write the musical Rex with Rodgers.
The team had two works produced outside New York. Over & Over, an adaptation of the Thornton Wilder play The Skin of Our Teeth, was performed at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia in 1999 and was revamped for a 2007 staging by the Westport Country Playhouse under the title All About Us.
At the time of his death, Ebb was working on a new musical with Kander, Curtains: A Backstage Murder Mystery Musical Comedy. The project had already lost its book writer, Peter Stone, who died in 2003. The show's orchestrator, Michael Gibson, also died (in 2005) while the project was underway. Coincidentally, the show is about a series of deaths during the production of a Broadway musical. Kander continued working on the project with a new librettist Rupert Holmes, writing new lyrics when necessary. The musical had its world premiere at the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles in July 2006, and ran on Broadway at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre from March 2007 through June 2008.
In 2010 The Scottsboro Boys, a musical with lyrics by Ebb, music by Kander, and book by David Thompson premiered, first Off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre, and then on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre.
Ebb is interred in a mausoleum with Edwin “Eddie” Aldridge (1929–1997) and Martin Cohen (1926–1995) on the banks of Sylvan Water at Green-Wood Cemetery, a National Historic Landmark in Brooklyn, New York. In addition to the names and dates of each man, the phrase, "Together Forever" is chiseled on the front of the mausoleum. On June 14, 2014, Ebb was featured in the first gay-themed tour of Green-Wood Cemetery.
The Fred Ebb Foundation, established in 2005 by instruction of Ebb's will, presents an annual award to an up-and-coming musical theatre writer (or team). The award has been presented for 14 consecutive years, and awards a total of $60,000 to the winners each year.
|2018||Will Reynolds, Eric Price|
|2016||Thomas Mizer, Curtis Moore|
|2015||Stacey Luftig, Phillip Palmer|
|2014||Chris Miller, Nathan Tysen|
|2013||Michael Kooman, Christopher Dimond|
|2010||Douglas J. Cohen|
|2009||Marcy Heisler, Zina Goldrich|
|2006||Robert L. Freedman, Steven Lutvak|
"All That Jazz" (alternatively "And All That Jazz") is a song from the 1975 musical Chicago. It has music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb, and is the opening song of the musical. The title of the 1979 film, starring Roy Scheider as a character strongly resembling choreographer/stage and film director Bob Fosse, is derived from the song.Bleu Raeders Drum and Bugle Corps
The Bleu Raeders also known as Regiment Militaire in 1974, were a drum corps based out of New Orleans from 1971-1981.
The Raeders made their DCI Finals debut in their first year of competition (1972). Their performance in the Finals was only the 18th in their history; this remains the quickest ascent ever to a DCI Finals position. They were also the first Southern corps to reach Finals.
In 1974, the organization merged with Stardusters splitting with that group and re-establishing the Raeders name in 1975 only to merge with the Stardusters again in 1981 to become the Louisiana Southernairs. (This name was taken from a New Orleans corps from the 1950s).Cabaret (Cabaret song)
"Cabaret" is the title song from the 1966 musical of the same name. It is sung by the character Sally Bowles. The music was composed by John Kander and the lyrics by Fred Ebb.Cell Block Tango
"Cell Block Tango" is a song from the 1975 musical Chicago, with music composed by John Kander and lyrics written by Fred Ebb.Chicago (musical)
Chicago (Chicago: A Musical Vaudeville) is an American musical with music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and book by Ebb and Bob Fosse. Set in Jazz-age Chicago, the musical is based on a 1926 play of the same name by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins about actual criminals and crimes she reported on. The story is a satire on corruption in the administration of criminal justice and the concept of the "celebrity criminal".
The original Broadway production opened in 1975 at the 46th Street Theatre and ran for 936 performances until 1977. Bob Fosse choreographed the original production, and his style is strongly identified with the show. Following a West End debut in 1979 which ran for 600 performances, Chicago was revived on Broadway in 1996, and a year later in the West End.
The 1996 Broadway production holds the record as the longest-running musical revival and the longest-running American musical in Broadway history. It is the second longest-running show to ever run on Broadway, behind only The Phantom of the Opera, having played its 7,486th performance on November 23, 2014, surpassing Cats. The West End revival became the longest-running American musical in West End history. Chicago has been staged in numerous productions around the world, and has toured extensively in the United States and United Kingdom. The 2002 film version of the musical won the Academy Award for Best Picture.Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics
The Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics is an annual award presented by Drama Desk in recognition of achievements in the theatre among Broadway, Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway productions.
† – indicates the performance won the Tony Award
‡ – indicates the performance was also nominated for the Tony AwardDrama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical
The Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical is an annual award presented by Drama Desk in recognition of achievements in the theatre among Broadway, Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway productions.
† - indicates the performance won the Tony Award
‡ - indicates the performance was also nominated for the Tony AwardFrom A to Z
From A to Z is a musical revue with a book by Woody Allen, Herbert Farjeon, and Nina Warner Hook and songs by Jerry Herman, Fred Ebb, Mary Rodgers, Everett Sloane, Jay Thompson, Dickson Hughes, Jack Holmes, Paul Klein, Norman Martin, William Dyer, and Charles Zwar.Kander and Ebb
Kander and Ebb were a highly successful American songwriting team consisting of composer John Kander (born March 18, 1927) and lyricist Fred Ebb (April 8, 1928 – September 11, 2004). Known primarily for their stage musicals, which include Cabaret and Chicago, Kander and Ebb also scored several movies, including Martin Scorsese's New York, New York. Their most famous song is the theme song of that movie. Recorded by many artists, "New York, New York" became a signature song for Frank Sinatra. The team also became associated with two actresses, Liza Minnelli and Chita Rivera, for whom they wrote a considerable amount of material for the stage, concerts and television.Live at Carnegie Hall (Liza Minnelli album)
Live at Carnegie Hall is the fourth live album by American singer Liza Minnelli. It was recorded at Carnegie Hall, New York City in September 1979 and released in 1981. The live show was one of the eleven sold-out shows, the longest guest appearance that an artist ever held in Carnegie Hall. The album cover was made by the artist Andy Warhol.Live at the Winter Garden
Live at the Winter Garden is Liza Minnelli's second solo live album and the first under her Columbia contract. The album was released for the first time in 1974. It was released on CD in April 2012, the release contain three "live" bonus tracks that did not appear on the album: "You and I","It Had to Be You" and "My Shining Hour".Liza's Back
Liza's Back is a live album by Liza Minnelli recorded on April 2, 2002.
It was produced by her then husband, David Gest, and released on CD in the same year by J Records.Minnelli performed many songs associated with her, and introduced "Liza's Back," written by Minnelli's longtime collaborators, John Kander and Fred Ebb.Maybe This Time (song)
"Maybe This Time" is a song written by John Kander and Fred Ebb for actress Kaye Ballard. It was later included in the 1972 film Cabaret, where it is sung by the character Sally Bowles, played by Liza Minnelli. It had already been recorded and released twice, in similar arrangements, on Minnelli's debut studio album Liza! Liza! (1964), and subsequently New Feelin' (1970), but it turned into a traditional pop standard after its 1972 inclusion in Cabaret.The Rink (musical)
The Rink is a musical with a book by Terrence McNally, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and music by John Kander, the tenth Kander and Ebb collaboration.
The musical focuses on Anna, the owner of a dilapidated roller skating rink on the boardwalk of a decaying seaside resort, who has decided to sell it to developers. Complicating her plans are her prodigal daughter Angel, who returns to town seeking to reconnect with the people and places she long ago left behind. Through a series of flashbacks, revelations, and minimal forward-moving plot development, the two deal with their pasts in their attempt to reconcile and move on with their lives.Theme from New York, New York
"Theme from New York, New York" (or "New York, New York") is the theme song from the Martin Scorsese film New York, New York (1977), composed by John Kander, with lyrics by Fred Ebb. It was written for and performed in the film by Liza Minnelli. It remains one of the best-known songs about New York City. In 2004 it finished #31 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top tunes in American Cinema.Tony Award for Best Musical
The Tony Awards are yearly awards that recognize achievement in live Broadway theatre. The award for Best Musical is one of the ceremony's longest-standing awards, having been presented each year since 1949. The award goes to the producers of the winning musical. A musical is eligible for consideration in a given year if it has not previously been produced on Broadway and is not "determined... to be a 'classic' or in the historical or popular repertoire."
Best Musical is the final award presented at the Tony Awards ceremony. Excerpts from the musicals that are nominated for this award are usually performed during the ceremony before this award is presented.
This is a list of winners and nominations for the Tony Award for Best Musical.Tony Award for Best Original Score
The Tony Award for Best Original Score is the Tony Award given to the composers and lyricists of the best original score written for a musical or play in that year. The score consists of music and lyrics. To be eligible, a score must be written specifically for the theatre and must be original; compilations of non-theatrical music or compilations of earlier theatrical music are not eligible for consideration.Willkommen
"Willkommen" is a song from the 1966 musical Cabaret. It is performed by The Emcee. The music was written by John Kander; the lyrics by Fred Ebb.Woman of the Year (musical)
Woman of the Year is a musical with a book by Peter Stone and score by John Kander and Fred Ebb.
Based on the Ring Lardner Jr.-Michael Kanin screenplay for the 1942 Katharine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy film Woman of the Year, the musical changes the newspaper reporters of the original to television personality Tess Harding and cartoonist Sam Craig, who experience difficulty merging their careers with their marriage. The musical ran on Broadway in 1981 and starred Lauren Bacall.
Awards for Fred Ebb