Edward Eliscu

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Distinguished American author, songwriter, director, producer and actor.
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Lyricist Edward Eliscu was a playwright, actor, and producer who worked on Broadway and in Hollywood. Born in N.Y.C., in 1902, Eliscu studied at CCNY, then worked as a minor actor on Broadway, appearing in such plays as The Racket and Quarantine. As a playwright, Eliscu wrote The Holdup Man and They Can't Get You Down and also wrote comedy sketches for such reviews as The Third Little Show (1931). By this time, he had scored his first show, 1929's Great Day, which he co-wrote with composer Vincent Youmans and lyricist William Rose. Besides the popular title song, this show also included the successful songs "More Than You Know" and "Without a Song." Brought west by RKO, Eliscu wrote music and lyrics for a handful of RKO films: the best and most memorable of these was Flying Down to Rio (1933), which featured Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. He then moved to 20th Century-Fox, where, among other assignments, he was principal scenarist for the Jane Withers films. At Universal in the late '30s, he worked on such assignments as Charlie McCarthy, Detective, and Little Tough Guys in Society (both 1939). After working as composer and librettist of the Broadway revues Frederika (1937) and Meet the People (1940), Eliscu settled down at Columbia, where he wrote several "B" musicals and comedies and served as producer for the 1944 Ann Miller vehicle Hey, Rookie. Eliscu also wrote the screenplays for the films The Gay Divorcee (1933), Out of the Blue (1947), and, his last credit, United Artists' Three Husbands (1950). He was subsequently blacklisted for his political opinions; Eliscu did, however, continue to work in theater and television. As a lyricist, his best-known songs were those used in Great Day, as well as "Carioca" (1933) and "Damn the Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead" (1943). Over the course of his career, Eliscu collaborated with many songwriters including Jay Gorney, Johnny Green, Gus Kahn, and Vernon Duke. Late in life, Eliscu was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Between 1968 and 1973, he served as the president of the American Guild of Authors & Composers.