Harry Warren Biography

Harry Warren
Harry Warren

Harry Warren (1893-1981), one of Hollywood's most prolific songwriters, remains a luminary figure among 20th-Century writers of American popular music. Born Salvatore Guaragna in Brooklyn Heights, Warren became a major influence in the golden age of movie musicals at Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) and Paramount studios. A self-taught drummer, accordionist and pianist, Warren went on to write nearly 700 songs--250 of them for films--50 of which became popular standards. Among his most popular tunes are "I Only Have Eyes For You," "42nd Street," "I Had a Gal in Kalamazoo," "The More I See You," "Chattanooga Choo-Choo," "At Last," "Serenade in Blue," and "That's Amore." Warren won three Best Song Academy Awards for "Lullaby of Broadway," "You'll Never Know," and "On the Achison, Topeka, and Santa Fe." In Hollywood, he collaborated with lyricists such as Al Dubin and Mack Gordon, and wrote songs for many popular stars, among whom are Fred Astaire, Mickey Rooney, Betty Grable, Gene Kelly and Judy Garland.

In spite of all of his achievements, he never seemed to attain notoriety. Even today, whenever his name is mentioned, people continue to respond, "Harry...who?" Warren himself often quipped that even his best friends hadn't heard of him.

During his many years on the West Coast, Warren remained dedicated to the theatre and longed to return to New York City. Finally, in 1980, the film "42nd Street" was adapted for the Broadway stage and a new generation was introduced to the work of Harry Warren.

Harry warren died in 1981 at the age of 87, but his musical legacy lives on. He is memorialized in his hometown of Brooklyn, NY, by two landmarks bearing his name. The Harry Warren Theatre (home of Ryan Repertory Company, Brooklyn's oldest resident theatre company) was named in memory of Warren in 1982, one year after his death. On July 11th, 1997, Bay 38th Street, between Bath and Benson Avenues, was renamed "Harry Warren Way" by legislation enacted by New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

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Recent Performances of works by Harry Warren
Production/Credit WhereOpening Night
42nd Street ...... (Music) Allegro Productions 10/8/2004
42nd Street ...... (Music) Main Street Theatre Company 8/7/1997
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