American pop and show tunes composer/lyricist Sam Coslow was an important part of pop music during the '20s & '30s, writing such hits as "My Old Flame" and music for successful films of the time. Born in N.Y.C. in 1902, Coslow started writing songs shortly after graduating from high school. He had his first hit song in 1920, "It Might Have Been You," and worked as the lyricist on his only Broadway production Artists and Models of 1924, but very few hits followed until Coslow moved out to Hollywood in 1929. That same year, he worked on his first film, The Dance of Life, with many more to follow. In 1933, Coslow teamed up with his chief collaborator, composer Arthur Johnston, and the duo successfully scored Bing Crosby's first leading roles in College Humor and Too Much Harmony. Other films containing hit songs by Coslow include Murder at the Vanities (1934), Turn Off the Moon (1937), Thrill of a Lifetime (1938), Dreaming Out Loud (1940), Copacabana (1947), and 1953's Affair With a Stranger, which was his final title song. Most of Coslow's best-known songs are from the early to mid-'30s, including "Sing You Sinners," "Just One More Chance," "Thanks," "Moon Song," "Learn to Croon," and "Cocktails for Two." Throughout his career, Coslow worked with various composers such as Harry Woods, Fred Hollander, and Abner Silver. In addition to songwriting, Coslow recorded several songs as a vocalist for the Vocalion and Victor labels from the late '20s through the mid-'30s, including "Say It Isn't So," "I Wanna Be Loved by You," and his own "Learn to Croon." In 1940, Coslow co-founded a business, with Col. James Roosevelt, of coin-operated song/movie shorts called "soundies." Coslow also produced some movies during the 1940s. He eventually left the music business and became a successful publisher until he retired. Although Sam Coslow spent his retirement years in Florida, he was back in N.Y.C. by the time of his death at the age of 79.
by Joslyn Layne