b. 24 March 1912, London, England, d. 25 April 1963, Rochester, Kent, England. After gaining experience as an actor, Hassall performed in several West End productions, eventually becoming understudy to Ivor Novello. Learning of Hassall’s untested ability as a lyricist, Novello asked him to collaborate on a new musical comedy. This was Glamorous Night (1935), which became a huge success and launched a partnership that brought to the West End some of the most popular musical shows in the history of the British theatre. The shows, and the songs by Novello and Hassall, remained in the repertoire for decades and became the epitome of the English musical of the period, a factor that somewhat diminished their appeal to audiences in other countries. In America in particular, the nature of musical comedy had changed and the English form, often mildly fantastic melodramas interspersed with songs, was out of fashion. Nevertheless, Novello himself retained his popularity and his shows with Hassall delighted home audiences. These shows included Careless Rapture (1936), Crest Of The Wave (1937), The Dancing Years (1939), Arc De Triomphe (1943) and the massively popular King’s Rhapsody (1949). Among the songs from these shows are ‘Fold Your Wings’, ‘Music In May’, ‘Rose Of England’, ‘Waltz Of My Heart’ and ‘Some Day My Heart’. When Novello died in 1951, Hassall worked on Dear Miss Pheobe (1950), writing the libretto and lyrics. He also wrote the screenplay when King’s Rhapsody was filmed in 1955. Hassall died of a heart attack in 1963.
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