Paul Francis Webster

Biography by

+ Follow Artist

An important American lyricist for movie songs from the 40s through to the 60s.
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

The Oscar-winning lyricist behind such classic movie themes as "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing," "The Shadow of Your Smile," and "Somewhere My Love (Lara's Theme)," Paul Francis Webster was born December 20, 1907, in New York City. After dropping out of NYU, he set sail for Asia as a merchant seaman, and upon returning to the U.S. worked as an Arthur Murray dance instructor; in 1932, Webster teamed with composer John Jacob Loeb to score his first hit, "Masquerade," followed by successful collaborations with William Scotti ("My Moonlight Madonna") and Lew Pollack ("Two Cigarettes in the Dark"). In 1935, Webster was contracted for his first film, the Shirley Temple vehicle Our Little Girl; while in Hollywood, he also worked with Duke Ellington on Jump for Joy, an all-black musical which premiered at Los Angeles' Mayan Theater in 1941 with a cast including Ivie Anderson and Dorothy Dandridge. Webster also worked with Ted Fio Rito ("Lily of Laguna") before launching a successful partnership with Hoagy Carmichael which yielded songs like "Baltimore Oriole," "Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief," and "Memphis in June." He won his first Academy Award in 1953 for "Secret Love," written with Sammy Fain for the film Calamity Jane; Webster and Fain later reunited to collaborate on projects including Lucky Me ("I Speak to the Stars"), Marjorie Morningstar ("A Very Precious Love"), and April Love (the title tune). Perhaps the most famous fruits of their partnership was the title theme to 1955's Love Is a Many Splendored Thing, which earned Webster a second Oscar. His other major collaborator of the period was Dimitri Tiomkin, with whom Webster worked on pictures including Rio Bravo, The Alamo, and The Guns of Navarone; he teamed with composer Johnny Mandel to author 1965's Oscar-winning "The Shadow of Your Smile," from The Sandpiper, and that same year also partnered with Maurice Jarre for Dr. Zhivago's "Somewhere My Love (Lara's Theme)." Elected into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972, Webster died in Beverly Hills on March 18, 1984.