Fred Spielman

Austrian-born composer of popular songs for the stage, films, and Tin Pan Alley.
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Artist Biography

b. Fritz Spielman(n), 20 November 1906, Vienna, Austria, d. 21 March 1997, New York City, New York, USA. A composer of popular songs for the stage, films, and Tin Pan Alley, Spielman studied composition with Joseph Marx at the Academy of Music in Vienna. After graduating with a Master Degree in Piano he gave some recitals, but then eschewed the classics in favour of earning a living playing the piano in nightclubs and writing his own songs. The prevailing economic climate was ironically reflected in one of his most notable efforts around this time, ‘Warum Spielt Bei Den Schinkenfleckerl Alleweil Das Fleisch Versteckerl?’, which, roughly translated, means: ‘Why is the meat always playing hide and seek in the noodle and ham dish?’ Shortly after the German entry into Austria in March 1938, Spielman went to Paris, and then, with World War II imminent, managed to board one of the last ships to Cuba. There he married, and took his wife to New York in 1939. Rapidly coming to terms with the American culture and language, by the early 40s he was composing the music for many popular songs, one of the first of which, ‘Shepherd Serenade’ (lyric: Kermit Goell), was recorded successfully by Horace Heidt And His Musical Knights, Art Jarrett, and Bing Crosby. He collaborated with Goell again on ‘You Better Give Me Lots Of Loving’ for the 1943 Andrews Sisters movie, Swingtime Johnny, and for ‘Every Time I Give My Heart’, ‘All You Gotta Do’, and ‘I Love It Out Here In The West’, which were delivered by Ann Dvorak, playing a warm-hearted saloon singer, in the robust Randolph Scott western, Abiline Town (1946). By this time Spielman was signed to the MGM studio, and in the late 40s he worked with Janice Torre to provide occasional numbers for films such as Big City (1948, ‘I’m Gonna See A Lot Of You’), Luxury Liner (1948, ‘Spring Came Back To Vienna’, sung by the 20-year-old Jane Powell), and In The Good Old Summertime (1949), in which Judy Garland rendered their spirited ‘Merry Christmas’. Spielman’s other film work included ‘Time And Time Again’ (with Earl Brent), for another Powell picture, Nancy Goes To Rio (1950), several numbers with Goell and Torre for Tom Thumb (1958), starring Russ Tamblyn, Peter Sellers, and Terry-Thomas, and ‘I Don’t Want To’ (with Torre) for the Elvis Presley vehicle Girls! Girls! Girls! (1962). In 1950, Goell and Al Hoffman adapted a tune that Spielman had composed during his teenage years for the gentle ‘One Finger Melody’, and Frank Sinatra’s recording of it spent 16 weeks in the US Hit Parade. Other prominent numbers among Spielman’s prolific output were ‘Go To Sleep, Go To Sleep, Go To Sleep’ (1950, with Sammy Cahn, a novelty song recorded in the USA by Mary Martin and Arthur Godfrey, and in the UK by Lita Roza and Jack Parnell with the Ted Heath Orchestra), ‘It Only Hurts For A Little While’ (1956, Mack David), ‘The Longest Walk’ (Eddie Pola), a 1955 US hit for Jaye P. Morgan, and the country-styled ‘Paper Roses’, written with Janice Torre in 1960, and profitably revived by Marie Osmond in 1973. There was also ‘Who Killed ’Er’, an amusing piece for which Spielman collaborated with Torre and Hoagy Carmichael, who gave it an inimitable reading on record. In addition, Spielman provided some material with George Gershwin’s brother, Arthur, for the unsuccessful 1945 Broadway musical, A Lady Says Yes, and worked on various off-Broadway projects. In 1969, he and Torre supplied the music and lyrics for the television musical The Stingiest Man In Town, which was based on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Walter Matthau dubbed the voice of Scrooge, and also involved were Theodore Bikel, Robert Morse, and Dennis Day. When it was adapted for the stage, the Chicago production won the Joseph Jefferson Award. This was a rare instance of recognition for a composer whose work often went unappreciated. Further recognition came in 1990, when the renowned American jazz singer, Shirley Horn, recorded Spielman and Goell’s ‘You Won’t Forget Me’, after spotting it in the 1953 Joan Crawford movie The Torch Song, on late-night television. The number was also part of the score for the 1950 Esther Williams -Van Johnson picture, The Duchess Of Idaho.