Edgar Leslie

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Tin Pan Alley lyricist Edgar Leslie enjoyed a long and successful career co-authoring songs for stage and screen, with "Moon Over Miami" ranking as perhaps his best-remembered work. Leslie was born December…
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Tin Pan Alley lyricist Edgar Leslie enjoyed a long and successful career co-authoring songs for stage and screen, with "Moon Over Miami" ranking as perhaps his best-remembered work. Leslie was born December 31, 1885, in Stamford, CT, and raised in New York, where he began penning songs for vaudeville acts; he got his start as a professional songwriter in 1909 with the publication of "Lonesome." He soon began working frequently with the young Irving Berlin, setting lyrics to "I Didn't Go Home at All," "Sadie Salome (Go Home!)," and "Someone's Waiting for Me (We'll Wait, Wait, Wait)" the same year; his other collaborations with Berlin included "Don't Put Out the Light" (1911), "There's a Girl in Arizona" (1913), and "Let's All Be Americans Now" (1917). In addition to the latter, Leslie wrote a number of other American-themed songs early in his career, including "America, I Love You" (1915), "Rose of the Rio Grande," "When Kentucky Bids the World Good Morning," "In the Gold Fields of Nevada," and others. He found his greatest early success writing for Al Jolson, penning the hit "He'd Have to Get Under - Get Out and Get Under (To Fix Up His Automobile)" with Grant Clarke and composer Maurice Abrahams in 1913, as well as 1923's "Dirty Hands, Dirty Face" with Clarke and composer Jimmy Monaco; this latter song was featured in Jolson's seminal talkie film The Jazz Singer. Additionally, in 1917, he wrote "For Me and My Gal" with lyricist Ray Goetz and composer George Meyer, which was also recorded by Jolson but remains most associated with Judy Garland, since it was used as the title song for her 1942 film with Gene Kelly.

Leslie took a trip to England in 1927, where he teamed up with composer Horatio Nicholls (actually the pen name of music publisher Lawrence Wright) on several songs, most notably "Among My Souvenirs," a popular tune that became a hit all over again for Connie Francis in 1959. In 1931, Leslie co-founded the Songwriters Protective Association, which evolved into the present-day Songwriters Guild of America union. He continued on as a successful hitmaker through the '30s, having a hand in such songs as "Midnight Blue" (1936), "Were You Foolin'?," "In a Little Gypsy Tearoom" (a hit for singer Arthur Tracy), "The Moon Was Yellow," "'Tain't No Sin," and many more. His most enduring success of the era was probably 1935's "Moon Over Miami," written with composer Joe Burke and taken to the top of the charts by bandleader Eddy Duchin. 1945's "Romance," written with Walter Donaldson, was one of Leslie's last efforts; he subsequently retired from songwriting and made a living off of publishing. He passed away in 1976.