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THE LIFE OF JIMMY MCHUGH
This first biography of Jimmy McHugh captures a lively and significant contributor to American songwriting. Creator of favorite tunes such as "I'm in the Mood for Love" and "On the Sunny Side of the Street," McHugh was a one-man history of twentieth-century popular music: in his prolific composing career, he wrote songs for Duke Ellington, Shirley Temple, Bobby Breen, Carmen Miranda, Deanna Durbin, Frank Sinatra, Ethel Waters, Adelaide Hall, and scores of other entertainers. His last works were turned into smash hits by Pat Boone and Fats Domino, making McHugh one of the few musicians to have written successfully for numerous genres from ragtime to rock 'n' roll.
Following McHugh from humble Irish-American beginnings in Boston to eventual success in New York, Europe, and Los Angeles, Alyn Shipton deftly evokes the lively milieus of Tin Pan Alley, the Cotton Club, Broadway, and Hollywood. McHugh began his career in the classical world working alongside such superstars as Enrico Caruso, but he soon became a song plugger for Irving Berlin and began writing his own popular songs during World War I. He crossed the color line frequently, writing revues for African American casts at the Cotton Club as well as for Gertrude Lawrence, Bob Crosby, and Florenz Ziegfeld. He and his songwriting partner Dorothy Fields were also among the first to create Hollywood musical films.
In the 1940s, McHugh began heroic efforts at fundraising for the war effort and for the crusade against polio, and as a result he became a leading member of the Beverly Hills community. His involvement extended to the East Coast as well, as he had political and friendly social ties in New England politics and with the Kennedy family in particular, and he also wrote the official state song of Massachusetts. He continued to write songs for shows, movies, and revues and managed up-and-coming singers late in his life.
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