Tony-Nominated Songwriter Joel Hirschhorn Passes Away

Songwriter, author and critic Joel Hirschhorn, whose music was heard on Broadway as well as in films, has passed away at the age of 67. He died of a heart attack in Thousand Oaks, California, after sustaining a fall a few nights before that had caused a broken shoulder.

With regular collaborator Al Kasha, Hirschhorn received Tony nominations for contributing songs to the 1982 Broadway production of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers; the two were also nominated in 1981 for writing the book, lyrics and music of Copperfield, the musical based on the Dickens novel. While neither musical was a box office success, they fared better in Hollywood with two disaster movies, among others. The team won two Academy Awards for penning "The Morning After" and "We May Never Love Like This Again"--the respective theme songs of 1973's The Poseidon Adventure and 1975's The Towering Inferno.

Also with Kasha, Hirschhorn wrote songs for films such as Freaky Friday and Pete's Dragon; the two (with Irwin Kostal on one of them) received two Oscar nominations for their work on the latter animated Disney film. According to a New York Times obituary, his songs "sold more than 90 million records, were featured in 20 movies and were recorded by artists including Elvis Presley." Before becoming a songwriter, he had worked as a nightclub singer, pianist and had sung with the band The Highlighters.

Hirschhorn and Kasha wrote songs for TV series such as "Knots Landing" and "Kids, Inc.," and Hirschhorn wrote the lyrics for "Side by Side," the theme song of the long-running sitcom "Three's A Crowd." The erstwhile collaborators also expanded their writing to books, and wrote 
If They Ask You, You Can Write a Song, Notes on Broadway: Conversations the Great Songwriters and Reaching the Morning After. By himself, Hirschhorn wrote Rating the Movie Stars for Home Video, TV, Cable and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Songwriting. He was also a noted columnist and critic, and was Variety's Los Angeles theatre critic for the past six years.

Hirschhorn is survived by his wife Jennifer Carter Hirschhorn, her sons Kevin and Brent Carter, his mother Evelyn Hirschhorn, his sister Madeleine Desjardins and a grandson.

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