Composer Jule Styne, pictured in 1962. Photo courtesy Margaret Styne, Jule Styne's wife.
Jule Styne wrote some of the most popular songs in American history, including "Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow," and "Three Coins in a Fountain." Saturday, Dec. 31 marks the 100th anniversary of his birth.
A child prodigy, Styne had played piano with the St. Louis, Chicago and Detroit symphonies by the time he was 12 years old. He dreamed of being a concert pianist, but a teacher discouraged him from pursuing classical music, saying Styne's hands would never be big enough.
Styne turned to popular music instead. Though he was born in London, his family moved to Chicago and Styne soon found himself playing in dance bands with musicians like Bix Beiderbecke and Benny Goodman. He later moved to New York where he gave voice lessons, then on to Hollywood where he found work as a songwriter.
Styne would eventually co-write dozens of hits with lyricist Sammy Cahn like "Time After Time," and "Saturday Night is the Loneliest Night of the Week." He co-wrote "Diamonds Are a Girls Best Friend," made popular by Carol Channing in the Broadway musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, with Leo Robin. Styne is also remembered for the Broadway shows Gypsyand Funny Girl.
Styne died in 1994 at the age of 88. He's remembered in this new documentary produced for public radio by Jeff Lunden, with host Susan Stamberg.