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Sammy Cahn

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Sammy Cahn (June 18, 1913 - January 15, 1993) was a Jewish American lyricist, songwriter and musician. He is best known for his romantic lyrics to film and to a lesser extent Broadway songs, as well as stand-alone songs premiered by recording companies in California. He and his collaborators began a series of hit recordings with Frank Sinatra during the singer's tenure at Capitol Records, but also enjoyed hits with Dean Martin, Doris Day and many others. He played the piano and violin. He won the Academy Award four times for his songs, including the popular song "Three Coins in the Fountain".


Cahn was born Samuel Cohen in the Lower East Side of New York City, the only son (he had four sisters) of Jewish immigrants from Poland.[1] He was married twice: first to vocalist and former Goldwyn girl Gloria Delson in 1945, with whom he had two children, and later to Virginia (Tita) Basile in 1970. He changed his last name from Cohen to Kahn to avoid confusion with comic and MGM actor Sammy Cohen and again from Kahn to Cahn to avoid confusion with lyricist Gus Kahn.

Much of Cahn's early work was written in partnership with Saul Chaplin. Billed simply as "Cahn and Chaplin" (in the manner of "Rodgers and Hart"), they composed witty special material for Warner Brothers' musical short subjects, filmed at Warners' Vitaphone studio in Brooklyn, New York.

Cahn described the beginnings of his career thus:

Lyric writing has always been a thrilling adventure for me, and something I've done with the kind of ease that only comes with joy! From the beginning the fates have conspired to help my career. Lou Levy, the eminent music publisher, lived around the corner and we met the day I was leaving my first music publisher's office. This led to a partnership that has lasted many years. Lou and I wrote "Rhythm is Our Business," material for Jimmie Lunceford's orchestra, which became my first ASCAP copyright. I'd been churning out "special lyrics" for special occasions for years and this helped facilitate my tremendous speed with lyric writing. Many might have written these lyrics better—but none faster! Glen Gray and Tommy Dorsey became regular customers and through Tommy came the enduring and perhaps most satisfying relationship of my lyric writing career – Frank Sinatra.[2]

Cahn wrote the lyrics to "Love and Marriage," which was used as the theme song for the FOX TV show Married... with Children. The song originally debuted in a 1955 television production of Our Town, and won an Emmy Award in 1956. This was only one of many songs that Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen wrote for Frank Sinatra. They were "almost considered to be his personal songwriters."[3]

Cahn contributed lyrics for two otherwise unrelated films about the Land of Oz, Journey Back to Oz (1971) and The Wizard of Oz (1982). The former were composed with James Van Heusen, the latter with Allen Byrns, Joe Hisaishi, and Yuichiro Oda.

Cahn became a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972. He later took over the presidency of that organization from his friend Johnny Mercer when Mercer became ill.[4]

Personal life

Sammy Cahn died in January 15, 1993 at the age of 79 in Los Angeles, California. His remains were interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.

His second wife was Virginia (Tita) Curtis, a former fashion coordinator for the clothes designer Donald Brooks. He was the father of Laurie Cahn and jazz/fusion guitarist Steve Khan [3] who had a general dislike for his father, and so changed the spelling of his last name to Khan.

Composer Garrison Hintz exchanged numerous letters with Sammy Cahn regarding musical composition and credits Mr. Cahn with teaching him the craft of lyric writing.

Honors, awards and legacy

Over the course of his career, he was nominated for 23 Academy Awards, five Golden Globe Awards, and an Emmy Award. He also received a Grammy Award nomination, with Van Heusen, for Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Show for the film Robin and the 7 Hoods.

In 1988 the Sammy Awards, an annual award for movie songs and scores, was started in his honor. When notified, Cahn said he was "flattered and honored" that these awards were named after him. He was chosen because he had received more Academy Award nominations than any other songwriter, and also because he received four Oscars for his song lyrics.

In 1993, taking up the sentiments expressed in the song, "High Hopes," the Cahn estate established the "High Hopes Fund" at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. The former Joslin patient and songwriter's goal was to provide hope and encouragement to kids with diabetes while supporting research into the causes of the disease.


Cahn wrote lyrics for many songs, including:

Academy Award winners

  • 1954 – "Three Coins in the Fountain" (music by Jule Styne) introduced by Frank Sinatra in the film Three Coins in the Fountain.
  • 1957 – "All the Way" (music by Jimmy Van Heusen) introduced by Frank Sinatra in the film The Joker Is Wild.
  • 1959 – "High Hopes" (music by Jimmy Van Heusen) introduced by Frank Sinatra and Eddie Hodges in the film A Hole in the Head.
  • 1963 – "Call Me Irresponsible" (music by Jimmy Van Heusen) introduced by Jackie Gleason in the film Papa's Delicate Condition.

Academy Award nominees

  • 1942 – "I've Heard That Song Before" (music by Jule Styne) from the film Youth on Parade.
  • 1944 – "I'll Walk Alone" (music by Jule Styne) from the film Follow the Boys.
  • 1945 – "Anywhere" (music by Jule Styne) from the film Tonight and Every Night.
  • 1945 – "I Fall In Love Too Easily" (music by Jule Styne) introduced by Frank Sinatra in the film Anchors Aweigh.
  • 1948 – "It's Magic" (music by Jule Styne) introduced by Doris Day in the film Romance on the High Seas.
  • 1949 – "It's a Great Feeling" (music by Jule Styne) introduced by Doris Day in the film It's a Great Feeling.
  • 1950 – "Be My Love" (music by Nicholas Brodszky) introduced by Mario Lanza and Kathryn Grayson in the film The Toast of New Orleans.
  • 1951 – "Wonder Why" (music by Nicholas Brodszky) introduced by Jane Powell and Vic Damone in the film Rich, Young and Pretty.
  • 1952 – "Because You're Mine" (music by Nicholas Brodszky) introduced by Mario Lanza in the film Because You're Mine.
  • 1955 – "I'll Never Stop Loving You" (music by Nicholas Brodszky) introduced by Doris Day in the film Love Me or Leave Me.
  • 1955 – "(Love Is) The Tender Trap" (music by Jimmy Van Heusen) introduced by Frank Sinatra in the film The Tender Trap.
  • 1957 – "Written on the Wind" (music by Victor Young) for the film Written on the Wind.
  • 1959 – "To Love and Be Loved" (music by Jimmy Van Heusen) for the film Some Came Running.
  • 1960 – "The Best of Everything" (music by Alfred Newman) for the film The Best of Everything.
  • 1961 – "The Second Time Around" (music by Jimmy Van Heusen) for the film High Time.
  • 1962 – "Pocketful of Miracles" (music by Jimmy Van Heusen) for the film Pocketful of Miracles.
  • 1965 – "Where Love Has Gone" (music by Jimmy Van Heusen) for the film Where Love Has Gone. (Also Golden Globe nominee)
  • 1965 – "My Kind of Town" (music by Jimmy Van Heusen) for the film Robin and the 7 Hoods.
  • 1968 – "Thoroughly Modern Millie" (music by Jimmy Van Heusen) for the film Thoroughly Modern Millie. (Also Golden Globe nominee)
  • 1969 – "Star" (music by Jimmy Van Heusen) for the film Star!. (Also Golden Globe nominee)
  • 1974 – "All That Love Went to Waste" (music by George Barrie) for the film A Touch of Class. (Also Golden Globe nominee)
  • 1974 – "Now That We're In Love" (music by George Barrie) for the film Whiffs. (Also Golden Globe nominee)

Other well-known songs

  • "Bei Mir Bist du Schoen" (English version, with Saul Chaplin)
  • " The Christmas Waltz" (with Jule Styne)
  • "Come Dance with Me" (with Jimmy Van Heusen)
  • "Come Fly with Me" (with Jimmy Van Heusen)
  • "Day By Day" (with Paul Weston and Axel Stordahl)
  • "Five Minutes More" (with Jule Styne)
  • "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry" (with Jule Styne)
  • "I'll Never Stop Loving You" (with Nicholas Brodzsky)
  • "I Should Care" (with Paul Weston and Axel Stordahl)
  • "I Still Get Jealous" (with Jule Styne)
  • "It's Been A Long, Long Time" (with Jule Styne)
  • "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow" (with Jule Styne)
  • "Love and Marriage" (with Jimmy Van Heusen)
  • "Papa, Won't You Dance With Me" (with Jule Styne)
  • "Please Be Kind" (with Saul Chaplin)
  • "Rhythm Is Our Business" (with Saul Chaplin)
  • "Saturday Night (Is the Loneliest Night of the Week)" (with Jule Styne)
  • "Teach Me Tonight" (with Gene DePaul)
  • "The Things We Did Last Summer" (with Jule Styne)
  • "The Secret of Christmas" (with Jimmy Van Heusen)
  • "Time After Time" (with Jule Styne)
  • "Until the Real Thing Comes Along" (with Saul Chaplin)
  • "You're a Lucky Guy" (with Saul Chaplin)
  • "You Can Fly! You Can Fly! You Can Fly!" from Peter Pan (1953 film) (with Sammy Fain)


Cahn wrote the lyrics for the following Broadway musicals:

  • 1947 – High Button Shoes music by Jule Styne
  • 1965 – Skyscraper music by Jimmy Van Heusen
  • 1966 – Walking Happy music by James Van Heusen
  • 1970 – Look To The Lilies music by Jule Styne


  1. Bloom, Nate (2006-12-19). "The Jews Who Wrote Christmas Songs". InterfaithFamily. Retrieved 2006-12-19. 
  2. Sammy Cahn Songbook. Warner Bros. Publications Inc.. 1986. ASIN B000EA1TTW. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Holden, Stephen."Sammy Cahn, Word Weaver Of Tin Pan Alley, Dies at 79",The New York Times, January 16, 1993
  4. "Songwriters Hall of Fame". 

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Sammy Cahn. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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