Luella Gear

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b. 5 September 1897, New York City, New York, USA, d. 3 April 1980, New York City, New York, USA. Among Gear’s earliest Broadway appearances was the musical Love O’ Mike (1917), book by Thomas Sydney,…
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b. 5 September 1897, New York City, New York, USA, d. 3 April 1980, New York City, New York, USA. Among Gear’s earliest Broadway appearances was the musical Love O’ Mike (1917), book by Thomas Sydney, music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Harry B. Smith. She was in a comedy, The Gold Diggers (1919), and a farce, A Bachelor Night (1921), before appearing inElsie at the Vanderbilt Theatre (1923). Although this show closed after only 40 performances it had interesting credits: book by Charles W. Bell, music and lyrics by Noble Sissle, Eubie Blake, Monte Carlo and Alma M. Sanders. Gear then went into Poppy, starring W.C. Fields, book and lyrics by Dorothy Donnelly, music by Stephen Jones and Arthur Samuels. Next came Queen High (1926), book by Laurence Schwab and Buddy De Sylva, music by Lewis E. Gensler with lyrics by De Sylva, plus additional songs by James Hanley. Gear followed this with a flop musical, The Optimists (1928) and barely any more successful was Ups-A Daisy (1928), with book and lyrics by Clifford Grey and Robert A. Simon, music by Gensler. A hit followed for Gear when she appeared in Gay Divorce (1932), starring Fred Astaire and Claire Luce and which ran for 248 performances.

In the mid-30s Gear was in the revue, Life Begins At 8:40 (1934), On Your Toes (1936), and Love In My Fashion (1937). In 1939 she was in Streets Of Paris, which had a 274-performance run at the Broadhurst Theatre. With music by Jimmy McHugh, lyrics by Al Dubin, with Harold Rome, and vocal arrangements by Hugh Martin, the show featured Abbott And Costello, Bobby Clark, Carmen Miranda and Gower Champion. In the 40s Gear was in the troubled musical Crazy With The Heat (1941), which opened and closed in four days, then reopened two weeks later with a different producer, Ed Sullivan, only to close again after a total of 92 performances. Then came a play, Pie In The Sky (1942), and the musicals, Count Me In (1942) and My Romance (1948). The latter had music by Sigmund Romberg, book and lyrics by Rowland Leigh, with Gear singing ‘Little Emmaline’. The following decade found Gear mostly in non-musical productions, including To Be Continued (1952), Sabrina Fair (1953) and Four Winds (1957).