Top Hollywood lyricist in 1930s and 40s
Over 120 hits in 50 films
Lyricist Mack Gordon was born in Warsaw, Poland on June 21, 1904 with the name Morris Gittler. When his parents emigrated to New York City in 1908, his name was changed to the Americanized Mack Gordon. Gordon entered show business as a boy soprano in a minstrel show and in time he developed comedy routines and eventually became a singing comic on the vaudeville circuit.
He teamed with English Emigre pianist Harry Revel to write songs for the 1931 Ziegfeld Follies, and the two were subsequently offered a contract by Paramount Pictures. His lyrics were first heard in motion pictures in the 1929 film Pointed Heels.
Through the 1930’s and early 1940’s, Gordon collaborated with several composers including Harry Warren, Josef Myrow, Jimmy Van Heusen, Vincent Youmans, James Monaco and Edmund Goulding. He wrote and collaborated on nearly 50 film scores including Sitting Pretty, Broadway Through a Keyhole, We’re Not Dressing, She Loves Me Not, Shoot the Works, College Rhythm, Love in Bloom, Paris in Spring, Two for Tonight, Collegiate, Stowaway, Poor Little Rich Girl, AliBaba Goes to Town, Wake Up and Live, You Can’t Have Everything, Head Over Heels, Love and Kisses, Love Finds Andy Hardy, Down Argentine Way, Sun Valley Serenade, Weekend in Havana, Song of the Islands, Iceland, That Night in Rio, Springtime in the Rockies, Orchestra Wives, Diamond Horseshoe, Pin-Up Girl, Three Little Girls in Blue, Mother Wore Tights, Wabash Avenue, Summer Stock, I Love Melvin, The Girl Next Door and Bundle of Joy.
Arguably one of the most successful of all lyricists to write for the screen, Gordon’s catalog also boasts over 120 individual hit songs, most notably the enduring standard “At Last”. Other highlights from Gordon’s catalog include “Time on My Hands”, “Help Yourself to Happiness”, “Listen to the German Band”, “Underneath the Harlem Moon”, “I Played Fiddle for the Czar”, “An Orchid to You”, “A Tree Was a Tree”, “It Was a Night in June”, “Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?”, “ Doin’ the Uptown Lowdown”, “She Reminds Me of You”, “Once in a Blue Moon”, “May I?”, “Love Thy Neighbor”, “My Heart is an Open Book”, “Lookie, Lookie, Lookie, Here Comes Cookie”, “Paris in the Spring”, “Without a Word of Warning”, “Takes Two to Make a Bargain”, “From the Top of Your Head to the Tip of Your Toes”, “I Feel Like a Feather in the Breeze”, “A Star Fell Out of Heaven”, “Goodnight, My Love”, “In Old Chicago”, “When I’m With You”, “It’s Swell of You”, “Danger, Love at Work”, “May I Have My Next Romance With You”, “An Old Straw Hat”, “Thanks for Everything”, “You Say the Sweetest Things Baby”, “Chattanooga Choo-Choo”, “There Will Never Be Another You”, “I Had the Craziest Dream”, “I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo”, “Serenade in Blue”, “My Heart Tells Me”, “The More I See You”, “Once Too Often”, “I Can’t Begin to Tell You”, “On the Boardwalk at Atlantic City”, “You Make Me Feel So Young”, “Somewhere in the Night”, “You Do”, “What Did I Do”, “It Happens Every Spring”, “If You Feel Like Singing, Sing”, “A Lady Loves”, “Baby, Won’t You Say You Love Me”, “Wilhelmina”, “All About Love”, “Through a Long and Sleepless Night” and “Somebody Soon”.
In 1943, Gordon won the Academy Award for Best song in a Motion Picture for the song “You’ll Never Know”. He was nominated for 9 other Oscars for Best Song. In 1986, the Gordon-Warren composition “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” was awarded the ASCAP award for Most Performed Feature Film Standard on TV.
Mack Gordon died in New York City on March 1, 1959.