In six decades, Sammy Cahn's career spanned every aspect of show business.
He was born in New York City on June 18, 1913. At age 15, holding the record for truancy at Seward Park High, he began playing violin in the pit of the Bowery Burlesque.
He wrote songs with Saul Chaplin for the famed Cotton Club, which produced "Shoe Shine Boy" for Louis Armstrong and the songs "Rhythm Is Our Business" and "Until the Real Thing Comes Along" for the Jimmy Lunceford Band, as well as scores for "Connie's Hot Chocolates".
After parting amicably with Chaplin, Sammy began writing for the Tommy Dorsey orchestra, whose vocalist was then Frank Sinatra.
With composer Jule Styne, Sammy wrote a series of hits for Sinatra that included "I've Heard that Song Before", "I'll Walk Alone", "Saturday Night is the Loneliest Night of the Week", "Time After Time" and dozens of others.
After Styne decided to return to broadway, Sammy began a collaboration with James Van Heusen at Sinatra's request, which produced such Sinatra hits as "All the Way", "The Tender Trap", "My Kind of Town", "Only the Lonely" and "September of my Years".
Of all the writers, Sammy's words fit my mouth the best.
Awards & Nominations
With 26 Academy Award nominations to his credit, Sammy earned more nominations than any other lyric writer in the history of the academy and four wins, with "Three Coins in the Fountain", "All the Way", "Call me Irresponsible", and "High Hopes", which became the John F. Kennedy campaign song.
In 1955, Sammy was awarded an Oscar for "Three Coins in the Fountain". That same year, he won the first Emmy awarded to a song, for "Love and Marriage", written for the producers showcase musical version of Thornton Wilder's, "Our Town" starring Frank Sinatra and Paul Newman.
Sammy and Frank
Sammy became the official lyricist for the Rat Pack, writing "Come Fly with Me", "Ain't That a Kick in the Head", and "Ring-a-ding Ding", among many others.
Sinatra recorded 81 Sammy Cahn songs, putting Sammy in the lead of any other Sinatra writer by a wide margin. The singer said of Sammy, "of all the writers, Sammy's words fit my mouth the best".
Sammy also wrote the Mario Lanza hits "Be My Love" and "Because You're Mine," as well as "It's Magic" for Doris Day and the "Second Time Around", for Bing Crosby.
The song I'm proudest of is 'Call Me Irresponsible'—it contains five syllable words and I come from a one syllable neighborhood.
In 1972, Sammy realized a lifelong ambition when, at age 60, he did the 92nd Street Y's, "Lyrics and Lyricists" series. An audio recording of the event resulted in his opening on broadway at the Golden Theater in 1974 with a one-man (plus three singers and a pianist) show called "Words and Music". The unanimous rave reviews started Sammy making appearances in London at the Duke of York's Theater, as well as a tour of the USA. In 1988 he began a second national tour to even more remarkable reviews.
In 1992, Sammy was the first recipient of the Golden Word Award, created by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) for outstanding achievement in lyric writing.