Robert Wright teamed with partner George "Chet" Forrest to forge one of the longest and most celebrated songwriting collaborations in the history of the American musical theater. Born in Daytona Beach, FL, on September 25, 1914, Wright and Forrest first met as high school classmates in Miami, soon collaborating on their first production, Hail to Miami High! Both also attended the University of Miami, and following graduation moved to Hollywood, where they made their film debut writing for 1937's Maytime; The Firefly and Sweethearts appeared later that same year, respectively launching the hits "Donkey Serenade" and "Pretty as a Picture." Despite their success in Hollywood, in 1944 Wright and Forrest turned their focus to Broadway with Song of Norway, which was inspired by the life (and featuring the music) of composer Edvard Grieg. The production was the first in a series of musicals created by the duo which adapted the music of classical composers, most famous among them 1953's Alexander Borodin-inspired Kismet, which yielded the hits "Strangers in Paradise," "And This Is My Beloved," and "Bangles, Baubles and Beads." 1961's Kean featured their first original Broadway score, but 1965's Anya -- the last production mounted at the legendary Ziegfeld Theater -- drew from the work of Sergei Rachmaninoff; the musical underwent numerous revisions in the years to follow, revived under the titles I, Anastasia, The Anastasia Game, and finally The Anastasia Affaire. Wright and Forrest returned to prominence in 1989 when their musical Grand Hotel emerged as a runaway hit, enjoying a Broadway run of nearly three years. The duo was working on another new musical when Forrest's death on October 10, 1999, finally ended a partnership extending well over half a century.
Share this page