Top film and stage musical composer, singer, director, actor and producer over 30-year career
"Willie Wonka" score won Oscar and "Candy Man" a hit for Sammy Davis. Jr.
One of Broadway’s greatest leading men, Anthony Newley, was born in born George Anthony Newley in Hackney, London on September 24, 1931. His personal hit parade includes numerous film and stage musicals, highlighted by Stop the World, I Want to Get Off and The Roar of the Greasepaint (The Smell of the Crowd).
Newley's beginnings in the entertainment industry go back to his departure from regular school at the age of 14. Soon after he was accepted as a student at the Italia Conti stage school and a few weeks later won the title role in the film The Adventures of Dusty Bates. The following year (1948), he starred in Peter Ustinov’s film Vice Versa and then as the Artful Dodger in David Lean’s classic production of Oliver Twist.
By the mid-1950’s, Newley was well-known throughout the world as an actor and in 1957 he starred in 6 major films. His singing career began with a 1959 film Idle on Parade, in which he performed four of his own songs that would later become Billboard hits. He also appeared in the ongoing television series, Saturday Spectaculars, and he won additional plaudits for his revue, Cranks. As an actor, he also enjoyed important successes in such films as Dr. Doolittle and Sweet November.
In 1961, songwriter Leslie Bricusse suggested to Newley that they write a show together. The product was the successful Stop the World - I Want to Get Off, which starred and was directed by Newley. The show ran on Broadway for 556 performances and several of its songs (“What Kind of Fool Am I?”, “Once In a Lifetime” and “Gonna Build a Mountain”) became hit singles.
Soon after the success of Stop the World, Bricusse and Newley wrote the score to the James Bond film Goldfinger. Then in 1965 the team produced The Roar of the Greasepaint - The Smell of the Crowd, again starring Newley. The Bricusse-Newley show produced several hit songs including “Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)?”, “A Wonderful Day Like Today”, “The Joker”, “This Dream” and the Nina Simone hit “Feeling Good.”
In 1971, the pair wrote the score for the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which included the top ten hit song recorded by Sammy Davis, Jr., “The Candy Man” and was one of the top five grossing films of that year. In the mid-1970’s the team also collaborated on the television version of Peter Pan, which starred Danny Kaye and Mia Farrow, and the London stage success The Good Old Bad Old Days.
Newley was worked individually as director, actor or producer in a multitude of acclaimed motion pictures, including Summertree, It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time, Mr. Quilp, (for which he also wrote words and music), and Can Heironymous Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humpe and Find True Happiness?. In 1977, Newley was further acknowledged for his successes when he was named the “Male Star of the Year” at the sixth annual Las Vegas Awards Ceremony.
Anthony Newley, the father of four children, Sacha, Tara, Christopher and Shelby, passed away in Jensen Beach, Florida on April 14, 1999.