Richard A. Whiting

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Playful tune-writer of a bygone era, wrote many early standards from the '10s through the '30s, thrived in Hollywood.
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Important American pop and musicals composer Richard Whiting wrote hit songs from the mid-'10s through the '30s, when he focused on Hollywood. Born in 1891 in Peoria, IL, Whiting was raised in a musical family in which both of the parents played instruments. He attended an L.A. military school and then worked as a singer in vaudeville. A self-taught pianist and composer, Whiting formed a vaudeville act with Marshall Neilan, who later became a movie director. In 1913, Whiting got a job in the Detroit, MI, office of a publishing company and supplemented his income by playing piano at a nearby hotel. Lyricists Gus Kahn and Ray Egan came from Chicago, IL, to work with Whiting during this time. Among the hits to come of this team were "Till We Meet Again" (1918), a multi-million seller with lyrics by Egan, and the Al Jolson hit "Some Sunday Morning." Whiting's first hit came with 1914's "I Wonder Where My Lovin' Man Has Gone." He wrote songs for several Broadway musicals during that decade and also had a few independently successful songs. Whiting moved to New York in the late '20s and then was out sent to Hollywood to work with Paramount Pictures. He returned to New York and scored two Broadway musicals in 1931, returned to Hollywood and worked for Fox studios, and then worked for Warner Bros., where he teamed up with lyricist Johnny Mercer. Whiting was responsible for over 50 hits in less than a decade of working in Hollywood. Some of the Broadway musicals he wrote for include Toot Sweet (1919) and Take a Chance (1932). Some of his best-known songs are "Ain't We Got Fun?" (1921), "She's Funny That Way" (1928), "Beyond the Blue Horizon" (1930), "One Hour With You" (1932), "On the Good Ship Lollipop" (1934), "Too Marvelous for Words" (1937), and "Hooray for Hollywood" (1938). Whiting worked with many composers over the years, including Leo Robin, George Marion, Jr., Arthur Jackson, Haven Gillespie, and Buddy DeSylva. His two daughters also went into show business: singer/actress Barbara Whiting and pop vocalist Margaret Whiting. Richard Whiting is a member of Songwriters National Hall of Fame.