The team of Betty Comden and Adolph Green, the longest running creative partnership in theatre history, began writing and performing their own satirical comic material in a group called “The Revuers,” which included the late Judy Holliday. They went on to collaborate with Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Robbins on what was the first show for all of them, “On The Town.” Also with Mr. Bernstein they did the score for “Wonderful Town.” With Jule Styne they wrote the book and/or lyrics for “Bells Are Ringing,” “Hallelujah, Baby,” “Do Re Mi,” “Subways Are For Sleeping,” “Peter Pan,” and others, wrote the book for “Applause,” and book and lyrics for “On The Twentieth Century” and “A Doll’s Life.” Four of these, “Applause,” “Hallelujah, Baby,” “Wonderful Town,” and “On The Twentieth Century,” won them five Tony Awards, and “A Doll’s Life,” a Tony nomination.
Their many film musicals include “Singin’ In The Rain,” “The Band Wagon,” “On The Town,” “Bells Are Ringing,” “It’s Always Fair Weather,” “Good News,” and “The Barkleys Of Broadway.” Two of these, “The Band Wagon” and “It’s Always Fair Weather,” received Academy Award Nominations, and those two plus “On The Town” won the Screen Writer’s Award.
“Singin’ In The Rain” was recently voted one of the ten best American films ever made and, by a vote of international film critics conducted by the prestigious magazine “Sight and Sound,” it was chosen as Number Three of the ten best films of all time.
As performers, they appeared in “On The Town,” and later did an evening at the Golden Theatre, “A Party With Betty Comden and Adolph Green,” comprised of material from their own shows and movies, and from their act, “The Revuers.” In 1977 they did a new version of “A Party” to unanimous acclaim at the Morosco Theatre, and toured with it. “A Party” received an Obie Award when it was first performed.
They were both members of the Council of the Dramatists’ Guild, have been elected to the Theatre Hall of Fame, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1980, and have received the Mayor of New York’s Certificate of Excellence.
Miss Comden received the Woman of the Year Award from the Alumni Association of New York University. She appeared in the film “Garbo Talks,” and on the stage in the Playwrights’ Horizons production of Wendy Wasserstein’s “Isn’t It Romantic?” Mr. Green appeared in the films “Simon,” “My Favorite Year,” “Garbo Talks,” and “Lilly In Love.”
Some of their best known songs include “Just In Time,” “The Party’s Over,” “Make Someone Happy,” “New York, New York,” “Neverland,” “It’s Love,” “Lonely Town” and “Some Other Time.”
Stars they have written for in their musicals and films include Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Lauren Bacall, Rosalind Russell, Judy Holliday, Mary Martin, Phil Silvers, Carol Burnett and Nancy Walker.
“The Will Rogers Follies,” which opened May 1, 1991, with music by Cy Coleman, book by Peter Stone and directed by Tommy Tune, was another of Comden & Green’s collaborations as lyricists.