b. 20 September 1886, St. John’s, Newfoundland, d. 30 January 1954, New York, USA. An innovative director, producer, author and lyricist for the musical theatre, Anderson was educated in Glasgow, Scotland, and Lausanne, Switzerland, before serving with the American Bureau of Information during World War I. He made his initial impact as a director on Broadway with a series of lavish revues entitled Greenwich Village Follies (1919-24), for which he also served as lyricist and librettist. From then on, over the next 20 years, Anderson staged a mixture of revue and musical comedy for which he often wrote the sketches and books. His work for Broadway included Jack And Jill (1923), Music Box Revue (1924), Dearest Enemy (1925), Hello, Daddy (1928), John Murray Anderson’s Almanac (1929, also producer), Ziegfeld Follies (1934), Life Begins At 8:40 (1934), Thumbs Up! (1934), Jumbo (1935), Ziegfeld Follies (1936), One For The Money (1939), Two For The Show (1940), Sunny River (1941), Ziegfeld Follies (1943), Laffing Room Only (1944), The Firebrand Of Florence (1945), Three To Make Ready (1946), Heaven On Earth (1948), New Faces Of 1952 (1952), Two’s Company (1952) and John Murray Anderson’s Almanac (1953), while London audiences saw League Of Notions (1921), Bow Bells (1932), Fanfare (1932), Over The Page and Home And Beauty (1937).
In addition to his association with the flamboyant Billy Rose on the extravagant circus musical Jumbo, Anderson was the director of Rose’s renowned Diamond Horseshoe nightspot in New York from 1938-50, and also worked for Ringling Brothers Circus and Radio City Music Hall. He spent hardly any time in Hollywood, apart from handling special projects such as the water ballet in Bathing Beauty (1944), starring Esther Williams, and the circus sequences in The Greatest Show On Earth (1942). He also devised and directed the spectacular 1930 movie musical The King Of Jazz, with its multi-star cast headed by another master showman, Paul Whiteman. As a lyricist, Anderson’s best-known song is probably ‘A Young Man’s Fancy’ (with Jack Yellen and Milton Ager), which was introduced by Rosalind Fuller in the 1920 revue What’s In A Name? The same trio was also responsible for various other items in the show, including the title number. Among Anderson’s other compositions were ‘The Last Waltz’, ‘The Valley Of Dreams’, ‘Marimba’, ‘The Girl In The Moon’, ‘Eileen’, ‘That Reminiscent Melody’ and ‘Come To Vienna’. His chief songwriting collaborators were A. Baldwin Sloane and Carey Morgan.