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Ira Gershwin
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    (December 6, 1896-August 17, 1983)
    Born in New York City, New York
    Birth name was Israel Gershowitz
    With his brother George, wrote the musicals 'Lady Be Good' (1924), 'Oh Kay' (1925), 'Strike Up The Band' (1927), 'Funny Face' (1927), 'Girl Crazy' (1928), 'Of Thee I Sing' (1931) and 'Porgy and Bess' (1937)
    Also wrote lyrics for the musicals 'Two Little Girls in Blue' (music by Vincent Youmans and Paul Lannin, 1921), 'Life Begins at 8:40' (with Harold Arlen, 1934), 'The Ziegfeld Follies of 1936' (with Vernon Duke, 1936), 'Lady in the Dark' (with Kurt Weill, 1944) and 'Park Avenue' (with Arthur Schwartz, 1946)
    Songs include 'I Got Rhythm,' 'Someone to Watch Over Me,' 'They Can't Take That Away from Me,' 'Fascinating Rhythm,' 'The Man I Love,' 'Nice Work if You Can Get It,' 'Long Ago (And Far Away)' and 'The Man That Got Away'
    Because his family always called him 'Izzy,' he thought his name was 'Isidore' until he applied for a passport in 1928 and learned his birth name.
    To avoid accusations he was cashing in on his brother's fame, he began writing under the name 'Arthur Francis,' borrowing the names of his younger brother and sister.
    He was nominated for the Oscar for Best Song three times without winning.
    After his last Broadway musical, Park Avenue, flopped, he said 'I am reading a couple of stories for possible musicalization but I hope I don't like them as I think I deserve a long rest.'
    He was married to Leonore Strunsky for 56 years until his death.
    He, George S. Kaufmann and Morrie Ryskind received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for 'Of Thee I Sing,' the first musical comedy to win.
    He did not resent his more outgoing brother getting most of the limelight.
    The Encyclopedia of the Musical Theater praised his lyrics' 'agile wit, originality of phrase and rhyming ingenuity.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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