Award winning Broadway composer Jerry Herman died December 26, 2019 in Miami at the age of 88.
The multi award winning star earned two Grammy Awards for the original cast recordings of “Mame” and “La Cage aux Folles”. The cause of death is being listed as pulmonary complications.
Along with his two Grammy Awards, Herman has more than filled his trophy case with three Tony Awards plus a special Lifetime Achievement Tony Award, two Drama Desk Awards, a Theatre World Special Award, the Johnny Mercer Award, the Richard Rodgers Award, the Oscar Hammerstein Award, and the Frederick Lowe Award. He is also a Kennedy Center Honor and a member of the Songwriters and Theatre Halls of Fame.
Over the years Herman worked with numerous Broadway actors and stars including Angela Lansbury, Carol Channing, Charles Nelson Reilly, Ginger Rogers, Betty Grable, Martha Raye, Cab Calloway, Ethel Merman, Pearly Bailey, and Bernadette Peters.
Of Russian Jewish descent, Gerald Herman was born July 10, 1931 in New York City to a musical home. He was raised in Jersery City and spent many summers in the “Borscht Belt” of the Catskills where his parents worked as musicians. He began his musical journey early learning to play the piano and later directed the theatrical productions of the Stissing Lake Camp. It is while spending time at the Camp that a young Jerry began writing music.
Herman’s first New York production was an Off-Broadway run of “Feel Wonderful” which was mostly written while he was in college. The show ran for 48 performances.
His first Broadway show was “Milk and Honey” which ran for over 500 performances and earned Herman his first Tony Award nomination.
His second Broadway hit is not only still being performed, it won a record setting 10 Tony Awards after Carol Channing played the lead role of Dolly in “Hello, Dolly”.
His final production ran for over four years on the Broadway stage and somewhat mirrored the life of its creator with the award winning “La Cage aux Folles”.
Herman himself appeared on Broadway in 2004 in “An Evening with Jerry Herman” and after writing a few songs for the television movie “Mrs. Santa Claus”, Herman himself had an uncredited role in the film as the piano player.
Many of Herman’s Broadway productions have been turned into hit movies including “Hello, Dolly” with Barbra Streisand and “La Cage aux Folles” with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane.
Herman is survived by his long time partner Terry Marler and goddaughters.
Jerry Herman Musicals and Productions:
“Milk and Honey”
“Mack & Mabel”
“The Grand Tour”
La Cage aux Folles”
“Mrs Santa Claus”
“A Day in Hollywood/ A Night in the Ukraine”
feature photo credit: By U.S. federal government – Kennedy Center Honorees at The White House 2010, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12486882