Harry Tierney

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A popular composer for the Broadway musical stage during the 20s.
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b. Harry Austin Tierney, 21 May 1890, Perth Amboy, New Jersey, USA, d. 22 March 1965, New York, USA. A popular composer for the Broadway musical stage during the 20s, Tierney intended to study classical music, and attended the Virgil School of Music in New York. After touring the USA and other countries as a concert pianist, he worked for some time at the famous Remick’s publishing house in New York, and started to write popular songs. From 1916-18, he had several songs interpolated into Broadway shows, including The Passing Show Of 1916 (‘So This Is Paris’); Hitchy-Koo (‘M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I’, a hit for Ann Wheaton and Ada Jones); Everything (‘On Atlantic Beach’ and ‘Honky Tonk Town’); The Canary (‘Jazz Marimba’ and ‘Oh, Doctor’); So Long Letty and Follow Me. With his chief collaborator Joseph McCarthy, Tierney contributed ‘My Baby’s Arms’ to the Ziegfeld Follies Of 1919, which is generally held to be the best edition of the series. In the same year, Tierney and McCarthy wrote the songs for Irene, the season’s biggest hit, which starred Edith Day, and featured musical numbers such as ‘Alice Blue Gown’, ‘Talk Of The Town’ and ‘Castle Of Dreams’. It went on to become one of America’s most treasured musicals, and was filmed in 1940, starring Anna Neagle and Ray Milland, and successfully revived at the Minskoff Theatre in 1973 with Debbie Reynolds as Irene. In 1920, Tierney and McCarthy added several songs to the European score of Charles Cuvillier’s Afagar when it was staged on Broadway, starring the toast of London and Paris, Alice Delysia. After contributing to the revue The Broadway Whirl (‘All Girls Are Like A Rainbow’ and ‘Oh, Dearie’); Up She Goes (‘Let’s Kiss And Make Up’, ‘Journey’s End’ and ‘Lady Luck, Smile On Me’) and the disappointing Glory, the team wrote the score for Florenz Ziegfeld’s 1923 hit, Kid Boots, with songs such as ‘Someone Loves You’, ‘After All’ and ‘If Your Heart’s In The Game’. In 1924, Tierney teamed with Sigmund Romberg to ‘doctor’ Clare Kummer’s score to another Ziegfeld show, Annie Dear, and he also wrote ‘Adoring You’ for the impresario’s Follies of that year. Three years later, he was back with McCarthy for Rio Rita, one of the highlights of the theatrical year, which was the first show to be staged at ‘the finest musical playhouse ever constructed in America’, the Ziegfeld Theatre. Tierney’s robust and romantic score included ‘The Rangers’ Song’, ‘If You’re In Love, You’ll Waltz’, ‘You’re Always In My Arms’, ‘Following The Sun Around’, ‘The Kinkajou’ and the main duet, ‘Rio Rita’, sung by the show’s stars, Ethelind Terry and J. Harold Murray. It ran for nearly 500 performances and was filmed in 1929, starring Bebe Daniels, John Boles and Wheeler and Wolsey, and again in 1942, with Abbott And Costello, Kathryn Grayson and John Carroll. Tierney and McCarthy’s last Broadway show was Cross My Heart in 1928, which ran for only eight weeks. After that, Tierney worked in Hollywood during the 30s on films such as Dixiana, which produced the title song (with Benny Davis), ‘Here’s To The Old Days’, ‘A Tear, A Kiss, A Smile’, ‘My One Ambition Is You’, and ‘A Lady Loved A Soldier’ (with Anne Caldwell); and Half Shot At Sunrise (the Bert Wheeler/Robert Woolsey comedy). Further attempts by Tierney to write another Broadway show were unsuccessful, and his career declined in what, ironically, was a golden era of popular song.