June 10, 1891|
February 11, 1945 (aged 53)|
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Helen McClay (1921–1943); Edwina Coolidge (1943-1943)|
|Children||Simon Joseph (died 4 days after birth), Patricia Dubin McGuire|
|Parent(s)||Simon and Minna Dubin|
Al Dubin came from a Russian Jewish family that immigrated to the USA from Switzerland when he was two years old. He grew up in Philadelphia. Between ages 13 and 16, Dubin played hookey from school in order to travel into New York City to see Broadway musical shows. At age 14 he began writing special material for a vaudeville entertainer on 28th Street between 5th and Broadway in New York City, otherwise known as Tin Pan Alley.
Dubin was accepted and enrolled at Perkiomen Seminary in September 1909 and was expelled in 1911. After leaving Perkiomen, Dubin got himself a job as a singing waiter at a Philadelphia restaurant. He continued to write lyrics and tried selling them to area publishing firms. During this time, Dubin met composer Joe Burke. Together they wrote the song “Oh, You, Mister Moon” in 1911, which was published by M. Witmark & Sons.
In 1917 Dubin was drafted at Camp Upton in Yaphank, Long Island, a private in the 305th Field Artillery of the 77th Division, known as New York’s own. During his service, he wrote the song “They Didn’t Think We’d Do it, But We Did” with composer Fred Rath and published by the 77th Division. On his first weekend pass, Al went to see a show at the Majestic Theater in New York City. There he met Helen McClay. They were married on March 19, 1921 at the Church of St. Elizabeth in New York City, after Dubin converted to the Catholic Faith and McClay was granted an annulment of her first marriage. The year they married, Dubin was accepted in ASCAP in 1921.
Known for his larger-than-life persona, Dubin struggled with alcohol and drugs, and fell on hard times in the 1940s. Estranged from his wife Helen, Dubin struggled to find work both in Hollywood and New York. The last show Dubin was contracted to work on was "Laffing Room Only" with composer Burton Lane. Dubin provided only a title for this production, “ Feudin’ and a Fightin’ “, for which he received 25 percent credit.
Dubin spent the remainder of the last few years of his life at the Empire hotel, alone and in ill-health. On February 8, 1945 he collapsed on the street after having taken a large quantity of doctor prescribed barbiturates. He was admitted to the Roosevelt Hospital for barbiturate poisoning and pneumonia, and later died on February 11, 1945. Famed newspaper personality Walter Winchell made the announcement of his death on the radio.
Dubin sold his first set of lyrics for two songs “Prairie Rose” and “Sunray” in 1909 to the Whitmark Music Publishing Firm.
In 1925, Dubin met the composer Harry Warren, who was to become his future collaborator at Warner Bros. studio in Hollywood. The first song they collaborated on was titled, “Too Many Kisses in the Summer Bring Too Many Tears in the Fall.” But it was another song written with Joseph Meyer that same year that became Dubin's first big hit, “A Cup of Coffee, a Sandwich, and You.”
Warner Brothers purchased the publishing firms of Witmark, Remick and Harms, and since Dubin was under contract to Harms, Warner Brothers inherited his services. In 1929 Dubin wrote Tiptoe Through the Tulips with composer Joe Burke for the film Gold Diggers of Broadway.
In 1932, Dubin teamed officially with composer Harry Warren on the movie musical 42nd Street, starring Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, Warner Baxter, and Bebe Daniels. With dance routines sequenced by legendary choreographer Busby Berkeley. The songwriting team of Warren and Dubin contributed 4 songs: 42nd Street, "You’re Getting to Be a Habit with Me", "Young and Healthy", and Shuffle Off to Buffalo.
Between 1932 and 1939, Dubin and Warren wrote 60 hit songs for several Warner Bros. movie musicals, including Gold Diggers of 1933, Footlight Parade starring James Cagney, Roman Scandals starring Eddie Cantor, Dames, Go Into Your Dance and Wonder Bar, both starring Al Jolson. The song Lullaby of Broadway, which he wrote with Warren for the musical film, Gold Diggers of 1935 won the 1936 Academy Award for Best Original Song.
In 1980, producer David Merrick and director Gower Champion adapted the 1933 film 42nd Street into a Broadway musical that won The Tony Award for Best Musical in 1981. The book for the show was written by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble and featured a score which incorporated Warren and Dubin songs from various movie musicals including 42nd Street, Dames, Go Into Your Dance, Gold Diggers of 1933, and Gold Diggers of 1935.
Work on Broadway
- Charlot Revue (1925) - revue - featured co-lyricist for "A Cup of Coffee, a Sandwich and You"
- White Lights (1927) - musical - co-lyricist
- Streets of Paris (1939) - revue - lyricist
- Keep Off the Grass (1940) - revue - co-lyricist
- Star and Garter (1942) - revue - featured lyricist for "Robert the Roue"
- Sugar Babies (1979) - revue - co-lyricist
- 42nd Street (1980, revival in 2001) - musical - lyricist
Notable Films (Musical)
- She Couldn't Say No (1929)
- Show of Shows (1929)
- Gold Diggers of Broadway (1929)
- Sally (1929)
- Oh Sailor Beware (1929)
- Hold Everything (1929)
- Forty-Second Street (1932)
- Footlight Parade (1933)
- Roman Scandals (1933)
- Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)
- Moulin Rouge(1934)
- Wonder Bar (1934)
- Dames (1934)
- Twenty Million Sweethearts (1934)
- Go Into Your Dance (1935)
- Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
- Broadway Gondolier (1935)
- Stars Over Broadway (1935)
- Shipmates Forever (1935)
- Gold Diggers of 1937 (1937)
- Mr. Dodd Takes the Air (1937)
- Gold Diggers in Paris (1938)
- Garden of the Moon (1938)
- Streets of Paris (1939)
- Stage Door Canteen (1940)
- "A Cup of Coffee, a Sandwich, and You" - lyrics by Al Dubin and Billy Rose, music by Joseph Meyer. (1925)
- "Tiptoe through the Tulips" - Joe Burke. (1929)
- "Forty-Second Street" - 42nd Street - Harry Warren - M. Witmark & Sons. (1932)
- "Shuffle Off to Buffalo" - 42nd Street
- "Young and Healthy" - 42nd Street
- "You're Getting to Be a Habit with Me" - 42nd Street
- "Shanghai Lil" - music by Harry Warren from Footlight Parade. (1933)
- "Keep Young and Beautiful" - Harry Warren from Roman Scandals. (1933)
- "Shadow Waltz" - Gold Diggers of 1933 - Harry Warren - M. Witmark & Sons. (1933)
- "We're In the Money" - Gold Diggers of 1933
- "Pettin' in the Park" - Gold Diggers of 1933
- "Remember My Forgotten Man" - Gold Diggers of 1933
- "I've Got to Sing a Love Song" - Gold Diggers of 1933
- "The Boulevard of Broken Dreams" - Harry Warren from Moulin Rouge. (1934)
- "Wonder Bar" - Harry Warren from Wonder Bar (1934)
- "I Only Have Eyes For You" - Dames - Harry Warren - Remick Music Corp. (1934)
- "Dames" - Dames
- "Go Into Your Dance" - Go Into Your Dance - Harry Warren - M. Witmark & Sons. (1935)
- About a Quarter to Nine" - Go Into Your Dance
- "She's a Latin from Manhattan" - Go Into Your Dance
- "Lullaby of Broadway" - Gold Diggers of 1935 - Harry Warren - M. Witmark & Sons. (1935)
- "I'm Going Shopping with You" - Gold Diggers of 1935
- "Lulu's Back in Town" - Harry Warren from Broadway Gondolier. (1935)
- "Don't Give Up the Ship" - Harry Warren from Shipmates Forever. (1935)
- "With Plenty of Money and You" - Harry Warren from Gold Diggers of 1937. (1937)
- "September in the Rain" - Harry Warren from Melody for Two. (1937)
- "Remember Me?" - Harry Warren from Mr. Dodd Takes the Air. (1937)
- "The Song of the Marines" - Harry Warren from The Singing Marine. (1937)
- "I Wanna Go Back to Bali" - Gold Diggers of 1938 - Harry Warren - Remick Music Corp. (1938)
- "The Latin Quarter" - Gold Diggers of 1938
- "Indian Summer" - Victor Herbet - Harms, Inc. (1939)
- "Feudin' and Fightin'" - title by Dubin, words and music by Burton Lane - Mara-Lane Music Corp. from "Laughing Room Only". (1944)
- Songwriters Hall of Fame. "Songwriters Hall of Fame: Al Dubin". Retrieved 2013-10-27.
- Dubin, Patricia McGuire (1983). Lullaby of Broadway: Life and Times of Al Dubin - One of America's Great Lyricists. Citadel Press. ISBN 0-8065-0871-X.
- Notable Names Database. "Al Dubin". Retrieved 2013-10-27.
- Dubin (1983) p. 60
- Dubin (1983) p. 83
- Dubin (1983) p. 169
- Dubin (1983) p. 39
- Notable Names Database. "Al Dubin: aka Alexander Dubin". Retrieved 2013-10-27.
- Dubin (1983) p. 13
- Encyclopedia Britannica. "Al Dubin (American Lyricist)". Retrieved 2013-10-27.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 134. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Al Dubin at the Internet Broadway Database
- Al Dubin at the Songwriters Hall of Fame
- Notable Names Database
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