Jerry Herman, Composer of 'Hello, Dolly!,' 'Mame,' 'La Cage aux Folles,' Dead at 88
Jerry Herman, the composer and lyricist who won two Tonys for Best Musical and gave Broadway some of its warmest and most beloved songs, died Thursday in Miami at 88.
Herman's death from pulmonary complications was confirmed by his goddaughter to the AP.
Born in New York City in 1931, Herman was raised in Jersey City, New Jersey. He took piano lessons, made frequent trips to see Broadway shows, and directed productions at an upstate New York camp owned by his parents.
Herman made his off-Broadway debut in 1954 and his Broadway debut in 1960. He received his first Tony nomination for his first Broadway musical, "Milk and Honey" (1961).
In the '60s, Herman created two iconic hits — "Hello, Dolly!" (1964), which provided Carol Channing with her signature role and for which Herman won the Tony for Best Musical, and "Mame" (1966), which made Angela Lansbury a Broadway star. Both spawned movies.
Along with revered misses like "Dear World" (1969) and "Mack & Mabel" (1974), Herman again achieved monumental success with the groundbreaking musical "La Cage aux Folles" (1983). Adapted from a French play, and with music by Herman and a book by Harvey Fierstein, the show focused on a gay couple — one of them a drag queen — attempting to pull the wool over the eyes of their soon-to-be in-laws. It won Herman his second Tony and spawned the pop hit "I Am What I Am." It was revived twice on Broadway, winning Tonys each time.
Herman's later Broadway works were the revues "Jerry's Girls" (1985) and "An Evening with Jerry Herman" (1998). His music appeared in the TV movie "Mrs. Claus" (1996), and in the films "Barney's Great Adventure" (1998) and "WALL-E" (2008).
In 2010, Herman was a Kennedy Center honoree.
Herman is survived by his partner Terry Marler, and by his two goddaughters.
Upon hearing of Herman's death, Fierstein tweeted, "Jerry Herman lost his hard fought battle last night and we lost one of the greats. A collaborator and friend for almost 40 years, I cannot thank him enough for his love, trust, encouragement, support and laughter. Well done, Mr Herman. Bravo!"
Bernadatte Peters, who starred in Herman's "Mack & Mabel," tweeted, "How Sad,,,Jerry Herman has passed away ,,,of course he made it to Christmas and left us the next day !! He was always so enthusiastic and uplifting about things and gave us the wonderful show Hello Dolly among others !!RIP Jerry Dearest ❤️❤️❤️❤️🎄."