Photo Tribute: Betty Comden

By: Nov. 24, 2006

BroadwayWorld presents a photo tribute to Betty Comden, whose work with the late Adolph Green epitomized Broadway's Golden Age. 

The Tony Award-winning lyricist and librettist died at New York-Presbyterian Hospital on November 23rd at the age of 89; the cause of death was heart failure. 

Comden and Green were known for books and lyrics rich in urbane wit, sophistication and joie de vivre.  Throughout five decades, they worked together on over a dozen shows.  They shared in a 1968 Best Composer and Lyricist Tony for Hallelujah, Baby! (written with Styne), a 1978 Best Original Score Tony for On the Twentieth Century (written with Coleman), and a 1991 Best Original Score Tony for The Will Rogers Follies (again, written with Coleman).  With Morton Gould, they wrote Billion Dollar Baby; with Bernstein, On the Town and Wonderful Town; with Styne, they contributed songs to Peter Pan, as well as penned Two on the Aisle, Say, Darling, Bells Are Ringing, Do Re Mi, Subways are for Sleeping, Fade Out-Fade In and Lorelei; with Charles Strouse and Lee Adams, Applause; and with Larry Grossman, the ambitious A Doll's Life.

Comden, with Green, also contributed lyrics and screenplays to movie musicals during their Golden Age in Hollywood.  In 1952, they wrote the screenplay to what is arguably the greatest movie musical of all time--Singin' in the Rain.  They would later adapt the classic for a short-lived Broadway musical.  Other film credits included Good News, The Barkleys of Broadway (the film that reuninted Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire), the classic The Band Wagon, featuring the songs of Schwartz and Dietz, It's Always Fair Weather, Auntie Mame (adapting the screenplay from the originAl Lee-Lawrence play), Bells Are Ringing, adapted from their Broadway hit, and What a Way to Go!.

To read Comden's full BroadwayWorld obituary, visit this link.

Photos by Walter McBride/Retna Ltd.

Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Leonard Bernstein attending a gala at the Sheraton Center Hotel in New York City, October of 1983

 Betty Comden attending the American Theatre Wing Gala Annual Luncheon at the Pierre Hotel in New York City, April 16, 2001

Betty Comden attending the opening night of the revival of Wonderful Town on November 23, 2003

 Wendy Wasserstein presents Betty Comden with The Lifetime Achievement Award at The Theatre Museum's Awards for Excellence at the Historic Players Club of Gramercy Park in New York City, September 27, 2004

Wendy Wasserstein and Betty Comden

Betty Comden attending the Theatre Museum's Awards for Excellence at The Players Club

Betty Comden attending the Theatre Museum's Awards for Excellence at The Players Club

Betty Comden and Margaret Styne at The Players Club

Betty Comden

Betty Comden