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Robert Gottlieb and Robert Kimball inform us that the first important moment in Eliscu's career as a lyricist came in New York where after having been a jack-of-all-trades in the theater, acting, directing, producing and writing, he collaborated with Billy Rose and Vincent Youmans on the songs for the show Great Day! "It only ran about a month but it produced three standards: the title song, "More Than You Know," and "Without a Song" (Gottlieb and Kimball, p. 340).
Eliscu's other career moment as a lyricist came in 1933, when he arrived in Hollywood to join Youmans and with some help from Gus Kahn, "wrote the lyrics for the songs for the first Fred Astaire -- Ginger Rogers film, Flying Down to Rio. The trio created such memorable numbers as 'Orchids in the Moonlight," "Music Makes Me,' and, especially, "The Carioca" which, as Philip Furia says, "launched the film career of the great dance team and set the standard for the finest Hollywood musicals of the Era" (Philip Furia, The Poets of Tin Pan Alley, pp. 82-83, hardcover Ed.).
Eliscu, "a lifelong, outspoken liberal," indeed a polemicist for the causes he espoused, was blacklisted during the fifties but still managed to make a living in television, theater and even film adapting many prestigious stage dramas for live television as well as writing screenplays for more than twenty movies.
Still, he is best remembered as a lyricist for songs that will live forever.
Robert Gottlieb and Robert Kimball (Eds.), Reading Lyrics, New York: Pantheon Books, 2000 (pp. 340-342, overview plus lyrics to 4 songs).
Edward Eliscu and David Eliscu. With or Without a Song: A Memoir. Westport, CT: Scarecrow Press, 2001 (Eliscu traces his history from the emigration of his parents to the U.S. through his career in New York theater and Hollywood films)
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Master List of Great American Songbook Songwriters
Names of songwriters who have written at least one song included in the Cafe Songbook Catalog of The Great American Songbook are listed below.
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