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Tony Lifetime Award in 2016 caps fifty year-career;Honored with SHOF’s highest accolade, the Johnny Mercer Award, in 1990 


Born and raised in Chicago, Sheldon Harnick began studying the violin while in grammar school. After serving in the U.S. Army for three years, he enrolled in the Northwestern University School of Music, and earned a Bachelor of Music degree in 1949. Though his focus had been the violin, Harnick also developed skills as a writer of comedy sketches, songs and parody lyrics, and eventually decided to try his luck as a theatrical lyricist in New York City.

His first song in a Broadway show, "The Boston Beguine" for New Faces of 1952, introduced theatergoers to the wry, subtle humor and deft wordplay indicative of a Harnick lyric. Over the next several years he contributed lyrics or whole songs to such vintage revues as John Murray Anderson's Almanac, The Shoestring Revue and The Littlest Revue.

A few more years were spent working on other writers' trouble-plagued Broadway-bound musicals before Harnick joined up with composer Jerry Bock to write their own musicals. While the first Bock & Harnick musical, The Body Beautiful in 1958 showed promise, it was their second musical, Fiorello! in 1959, that put the team on the map. Their musical biography of New York City's legendary mayor earned the Tony Award, Pulitzer Prize and New York Drama Critics' Circle Award.

Their next musical, Tenderloin (1960), set in the seamy Tenderloin district of late 19th century New York, was followed by She Loves Me (1963), which beguiled audiences with its Central European charm and operetta elegance.

In 1964 Bock & Harnick, working with director-choreographer Jerome Robbins and book writer Joseph Stein,…

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Discography Highlights

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