Johnny Mercer

Johnny Mercer
Capitol Records


Johnny Mercer
TV: East side of the 1600 block of Vine Street
Composer | Singer | Songwriter
Born Nov. 18, 1909 in Savannah, GA
Died June 25, 1976 in Bel-Air, Calif.

Johnny Mercer was one of the most talented and prolific American composers. He was a giant in the music world, writing alone and collaborating with the top names in the business to produce memorable tunes.

He wrote the lyrics for "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe" and "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening," as well as working with Henry Mancini on "Moon River" and "Days of Wine and Roses."

He went to New York in 1929 seeking a stage career but, rebuffed, went to work instead on Wall Street and wrote songs in his spare time.

Mercer once remarked in a not untypical self-deprecating manner, "I tried to be a singer and failed. I tried to be an actor and failed. So I just naturally fell into lyric writing."

His first hit — of some 75 hits — was "Out of Breath, Scared to Death of You," written for "Garrick Gaieties," a musical show.

He had tried to win a role as an actor in the show and toward that end wrote the song. The producers turned him down as an actor but bought his song.

Abandoning his acting ambitions, Mercer began singing in New York cabarets. He joined the Paul Whiteman band, and his duets with trombonist Jack Teagarden contributed to Mercer's growing fame.

He later sang "Lazy Bones" with Bing Crosby and starred on radio's "Your Hit Parade," as well as his own radio show.

He came to Hollywood in 1935 and later gained international recognition with the poetry for "Laura," a theme song for a movie of the same name.

His other film scores included "Here Come the Waves," "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," "Daddy Long Legs" and "Star Spangled Rhythm."

Mercer collaborated with Jerome Kern, Hoagy Carmichael, Gordon Jenkins and a few others whose names are synonymous with music.

"I've been lucky," he said once, "to have been able to collaborate with some of the best songwriters of my generation. I think I've worked with most of them, except Richard Rodgers."

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    Academy Awards

    Year Category Work
    1938 Best Song "Jeepers Creepers" from Going Places Nomination*
    1940 Best Song "Love of My Life" from Second Chorus Nomination*
    1940 Best Song "I'd Know You Anywhere" from You'll Find Out Nomination*
    1941 Best Song "Blues in the Night" from Blues in the Night Nomination*
    1942 Best Song "Dearly Beloved" from You Were Never Lovelier Nomination*
    1943 Best Song "My Shining Hour" from The Sky's the Limit Nomination*
    1943 Best Song "That Old Black Magic" from Star Spangled Rhythm Nomination*
    1945 Best Song "Accentuate the Positive" from Here Come the Waves Nomination*
    1946 Best Song "On the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe" from The Harvey Girls Win*
    1951 Best Song "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening" from Here Comes the Groom Win*
    1955 Best Song "Something's Gotta Give" from Daddy Long Legs Nomination
    1960 Best Song "The Facts of Life" from The Facts of Life Nomination
    1961 Best Song "Moon River" from Breakfast at Tiffany's Win*
    1962 Best Song "Days of Wine and Roses" from Days of Wine and Roses Win*
    1963 Best Song "Charade" from Charade Nomination*
    1965 Best Song "The Sweetheart Tree" from The Great Race Nomination*
    1970 Best Original Song Score Darling Lili Nomination*
    1970 Best Song "Whistling Away the Dark" from Darling Lili Nomination*
    1971 Best Song "Life Is What You Make It" from Kotch Nomination*
    * A joint nomination shared with other people.

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