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Stephen Sondheim Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (2) | Mini Bio (1) | Trivia (31) | Personal Quotes (5)

Overview (2)

Date of Birth 22 March 1930New York City, New York, USA
Birth NameStephen Joshua Sondheim

Mini Bio (1)

Sondheim's work as a composer-lyricist over the past four decades has set the standard for modern American musical theater. He has won a record seven Tony Awards for his songwriting, and received a Pulitzer Prize for Sunday in the Park with George. Sondheim was an unpaid and uncredited clapper boy on Beat the Devil (1953). He tried out as a contestant on The $64,000 Question (1955) in 1955. While not chosen, he did correctly identify 19 of the 21 films John Ford had directed up to that point.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Andrew Milner <ajm@bbs.cpcn.com>

Trivia (31)

Born at 3:30am-EST.
His very first job when he graduated Williams College was to head to Hollywood and work as an assistant writer on the hit early sitcom, Topper (1953). He donated the scripts to the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research in Madison.
Was taught by broadway legend, Oscar Hammerstein II.
Provides the voice of Rose's father on the original cast album to Gypsy (1962) in the song, Some People. He practically snarls the line "You ain't getting eighty-eight cents out of me, Rose!" Sondheim claims this is because he was incredibly frustrated with Ethel Merman, who refused to read the line "...and you can go to hell!".
His musical, Merrily We Roll Along, was awarded the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 2001 (2000 season) for Best New Musical.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (basis for the 1966 movie of the same name) was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 2000 (1999 season) for Outstanding Musical Production.
He was awarded the 2004 Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Outstanding Musical Production of 2003 for Pacific Overtures performed at the Donmar Warehouse.
He was awarded the 1989 London Evening Standard Theatre Award's Special Award for Lifetime Achievement to Theatre.
Katharine Hepburn was his neighbor in New York City for many years.
He was awarded the 1996 London Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Musical with James Lapine for Passion (1996).
Shares birthday with fellow musical composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Has won seven Tony Award: in 1971, as best score (musical) and best lyrics (musical) for Company; in 1972, as best score (composer and lyricist) for Follies; in 1973, as best score (musical-music and lyrics) for A Little Night Music; in 1979, as best score (music and lyrics) for Sweeney Todd; in 1988, as best score (musical-music and lyrics) for Into the Woods; and in 1994, as best score (music and lyrics) for Passion. He was also Tony-nominated six other times: in 1958, his lyrics as part of a best musical nomination for West Side Story; in 1960, his lyrics as part of a best musical nomination for Gypsy; in 1965, as best composer and lyricist with collaborator Richard Rodgers for Do I Hear a Waltz?; in 1976, as best score (music and lyrics) for Pacific Overtures; in 1982, as best score (music and lyrics) for Merrily We Roll Along; and in 1984, as best score (music and lyrics) for Sunday in the Park with George. Although A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum won the Tony for best musical in 1963, this is a producer's award.
Is aficionado of puzzles, according to The New York Times.
Stephen Sondheim was the Turner Classic Movies programmer for March 22, 2005, the cable network's way of honoring him on his 75th birthday. The six films he picked for his birthday tribute were The Mind Reader (1933), starring the under-appreciated Warren William as a con-man posing as a clairvoyant; The Clock (1945), Vincente Minnelli's classic film of war-time love, starring Judy Garland & Robert Walker; Smiles of a Summer Night (Smiles of a Summer Night (1955)), the Ingmar Bergman classic on which he based his A Little Night Music; Out of the Fog (1941), starring the great John Garfield, plus the always intriguing Ida Lupino; Night Must Fall (1937) , the classic thriller in which Robert Montgomery first played against type, as a serial killer who carries around a head in a hat-box; and Torchy Blane in Chinatown (1939), starring Glenda Farrell as a brassy female reporter who never goes near Chinatown.
Was mentor to the late Jonathan Larson, creator of Rent and Tick, Tick . . . BOOM!.
He was awarded the American National Medal of the Arts in 1996 by the National Endowment of the Arts in Washington D.C.
His two favorites among his own songs are Someone in a Tree (Pacific Overtures) and The Miller's Son (A Little Night Music).
The vast majority of Desperate Housewives (2004) episodes are named after after Sondheim shows, songs, or lyrics ("Desperate Housewives" creator Marc Cherry is a Sondheim fan). The cast of the show also participated in a video tribute to Sondheim shown at his 75th birthday concert on July 8, 2005, at the Hollywood Bowl. In the video, the cast (in their "Housewives" characters) listed their favorite Sondheim songs for comedic effect.
Alumni of George School in Newtown, Pennsylvania. His first musical was named By George about life at the Bucks Country Boarding School. It was written and performed when he was a student.
Member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity at Williams College.
Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1975.
His play, "Company," was awarded the 1977 Joseph Jefferson Citation for Play-Production at the Summer Comedy Theatre in Chicago, Illinois.
Won a 2008 Special Tony Award (New York City) lifetime achievement award.
Stephen Sondheim won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the musical 1985 "Sunday in the Park with George" collaborating with James Lapine.
His musical, "Merrily We Roll Along," at the Music Theatre Company in Chicago, Illinois was nominated for the 2011 Equity Joseph Jefferson Award for Musical (Midsize).
He has stated that his original ambition was to become a mathematician and that he became a composer largely by chance. A big influence was the fact that famed lyricist Oscar Hammerstein (of Rodgers & Hammerstein) was a neighbor of his when Sondheim was a boy. When he wrote a musical for a school production, he showed it to Hammerstein who told him it was the worst musical he had ever read. However, Hammerstein also told him that nonetheless it showed a lot of latent talent and proceeded to tell him everything that was wrong with it and how to fix it, for which Sondheim was always grateful.
His musical, "A Little Night Music" at the Writers' Theatre in Chicago, Illinois was nominated for a 2012 Equity Joseph Jefferson Award for Musical (Large).
His musical revue, "Stephen Sondheim's Putting It Together," at the Porchlight Music Theatre in Chicago, Illinois was nominated for a 2012 Equity Joseph Jefferson Award for Musical Production (Midsize).
His musical, "Sweeney Todd" at the Drury Lane Oakbrook Theatre in Oakbrook, Illinois was nominated for a 2012 Equity Joseph Jefferson Award for Musical Production (Large).
His musical, "Follies" at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater in Chicago, Illinois was awarded the 2012 Equity Joseph Jefferson Award for Musical Production (Large).
His musical, "Sunday In the Park With George," at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater in Chicago, Illinois was awarded the 2013 Equity Joseph Jefferson Award for Large Musical Production.

Personal Quotes (5)

My idea of heaven is not writing.
On stage, generally speaking, the story is stopped or held back by songs, because that's the convention. Audiences enjoy the song and the singer, that's the point. Static action - if that's not an oxymoron - is accepted. It's what writer Burt Shevelove used to call "savouring the moment". That's a very tricky business on film. It's fine if the songs are presentational, as in a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers-style movie where you watch them for the fun of it, but not with storytelling songs. When the song is part of the action and working as dialogue, even two minutes is way too long.
My mother had a lot of pretensions. One of them that she picked up from some of her tonier friends was 'luncheon' which always struck me as a screamingly funny word. 'I'm having a luncheon at 21' she would say. I think 'lunch' is one of the funniest words in the world. That's one of the reasons I used it.
For those of you who have not had the pleasure of hearing my voice before, I tend to sing very loud, often off-pitch, and always write in keys that are just out of my range.
Oscar Hammerstein really believed that there was 'A bright golden haze in the meadow'. I never have.

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