b. 27 September 1885, Somerville, Massachusetts, USA, d. 18 December 1943, New York, USA. An important lyricist in the 20s and 30s, McCarthy sang in cafes and worked for music publishers before writing songs such as ‘That Dreamy Italian Waltz’, ‘That’s How I Need You’ and ‘I Miss You Most Of All’. In 1913, with Jimmy Monaco, he produced one of popular music’s all-time standards, ‘You Made Me Love You’, memorably sung and recorded by hundreds of artists, including Al Jolson, Harry James, Judy Garland and Grace La Rue. Three years later, again with Monaco, and Howard Johnson, McCarthy wrote ‘What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For?’ for Betty Hutton to sing in the 1945 movie Incendiary Blonde, the biopic of nightclub queen Texas Guinan. The song resurfaced in the UK in 1959, as a number 1 for Emile Ford And The Checkmates, and again in 1987, when it was a hit for rock ‘n’ roll revivalist, Shakin’ Stevens.
In 1919, McCarthy and Harry Tierney contributed songs to the Ziegfeld Follies of that year, and wrote the score for the hugely successful Irene, which 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 had several numbers, including ‘Why Don’t You?’, interpolated in the European score of Charles Cuvillier’s Afgar when it was staged on Broadway, starring the toast of London and Paris, Alice Delysia. They also contributed to the revues The Broadway Whirl, Up She Goes and Glory, before writing the score for Florenz Ziegfeld’s 1923 hit, Kid Boots. After a brief break, McCarthy resumed his association with Tierney in 1927 for the operetta Rio Rita, the season’s biggest musical success. McCarthy and Tierney’s songs 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’, which was sung by Ethelind Terry and J. Harold Murray. It ran for nearly 500 performances and was filmed in 1929, and again in 1942. Tierney and McCarthy’s last Broadway show together was Cross My Heart in 1928, which closed after only eight weeks.
In the 30s, McCarthy collaborated with James Hanley on the songs for the film High Society Blues (‘I’m In The Market for You’, ‘Eleanor’, ‘Just Like A Story Book’, ‘I Don’t Know You Well Enough For That’) and Listen, Darling, starring Judy Garland (‘Ten Pins In the Sky’), and in 1940 had ‘You Think Of Ev’rything and ‘When The Spirit Moves Me’ in Billy Rose’s Aquacade water carnival. McCarthy’s other songs included the poignant ballad ‘I’m Always Chasing Rainbows’ (with Harry Carroll), ‘They Go Wild, Simply Wild, Over Me’ (a hit for Marion Harris), ‘Through’, ‘Ireland Must Be Heaven For My Mother Came From There’, Night Time In Italy’, ‘I’m In The Market For You’, and ‘Underneath The Arches’. Among his other collaborators were Fred Fisher and Al Piantadosi.
McCarthy’s son, Joseph A. McCarthy, was also a songwriter who studied at the Juilliard School of Music. He collaborated with various composers including Cy Coleman (‘I’m Gonna Laugh You Right Out Of My Life’, ‘Why Try To Change Me Now’, ‘The Riviera’) and Marvin Fisher (‘Cloudy Morning’).