Betty Comden (born Basya Cohen) was born in Brooklyn, NY 98 years ago today on May 3, 1917. When she was just 21, she was introduced to Adolph Green, and one of the greatest writing partnerships ever was born. The pair hooked up with Leonard Bernstein and Judy Holliday to form a group called the Revuers, who performed at the Village Vanguard.
Their first Broadway show, written with Leonard Bernstein, was the 1944 On The Town. Their next two productions weren’t as successful, so the pair headed to Hollywood to adapt On The Town for film. While in Hollywood, they wrote the script for one of Hollywood’s greatest movies, Singing’ in the Rain, for which they won the Screen Writers Guild award.
They continued to work in both Hollywood and on Broadway and wrote some of our great musicals, including Bells Are Ringing, Peter Pan, Wonderful Town and Applause. They received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1991.
Betty Comden died in 2006 and the age of 89. Her songs were wonderful and are still sung today. On The Town is enjoying an enormously popular revival in New York right now, a testament to the great work that she, Green and Bernstein created over 70 years ago.
Here is Tony Bennett singing one of my favorite of their songs from one my favorite of his albums: “The Party’s Over” from Hometown, My Town.