Top Hollywood lyricist won three Oscars

Browse Song Catalog: ASCAP

Paul Francis Webster


His "Shadow of Your Smile" won both Grammy and Oscar for Best Song

Paul Francis Webster was born on December 20, 1907 in New York City. He attended Cornell University and New York University and, for a time, was a sailor and then a dance instructor. However, by 1931 his career as a lyricist had begun and he would become one of Hollywood’s most successful lyricists.

In 1935, he went to Hollywood under contract with Twentieth Century Fox with the intent to write for Shirley Temple films. Soon after, he became a freelance writer and in 1941 he had his first hit with Duke Ellington entitled "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)".

After 1950, Webster worked mostly for MGM, and primarily with composer Sammy Fain. Together they won two Academy Awards, for the song "Secret Love" from the film Calamity Jane (1953), and then for "Love Is A Many Splendored Thing" from the 1955 film Love Is a Many Splendored Thing. Working with composer Johnny Mandel, he won a third Academy Award for the song "The Shadow Of Your Smile" from the 1965 film The Sandpiper.

Outside of films, Webster’s songs achieved popular recognition with the help from recording artists such as Peggy Lee and her 1950 hit recording of “Black Coffee”. Tony Bennett recorded and charted several Webster songs including the 1962 hit recording of "Tender Is the Night", "A Time For Love" recorded in 1966, and "Days of Love" in 1967.

In addition to those already mentioned, Webster’s long list of collaborators includes Hoagy Carmichael, Harry Revel, Rudolf Friml, Lew Pollack, Jerry Livingston, John Jacob Loeb, Max Steiner, Alfred Newman, Bronislaw Kaper, Frank Churchill, Franz Waxman, and Dmitri Tiomkin.

Paul Francis Webster died in Beverly Hills, California in 1984.

Catalog includes "Love Is A Many Splendored Thing" and "Tender is the Night"; career spanned 1931-1983