January 20, 2007 / 9:39 AM / 12 years ago

Broadway legend Betty Comden dies

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. songwriter and actress Betty Comden, who collaborated with Adolph Green to write some of the greatest stage and screen musicals such as “Singin’ in the Rain”, died of heart failure on Thursday in New York at age 89, media reports said.

U.S. songwriter and actress Betty Comden (R) and Adolph Green perform a medley during an 80th birthday concert tribute for legendary violinist Isaac Stern at Carnegie Hall in New York, September 24, 2000. Comden died of heart failure on Thursday in New York at age 89, media reports said. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Comden and Green won seven Tony Awards together. They collaborated on the 1944 Broadway musical “On the Town”, which included the song “New York, New York” — the one that rhymed “The Bronx is up and the Battery’s down” with “New York, New York, it’s a hellava town”.

Comden started collaborating with Green as a member of the Revuers, a nightclub act that performed in New York’s Greenwich Village in the 1930s.

It was there that Comden and Green first accompanied Leonard Bernstein, one of many top composers they worked with through the years. Others included Andre Previn, Cy Coleman and Jule Styne.

Among the songs written by the Comden and Green team were “Just in Time”, “The Party’s Over” and “Make Someone Happy”.

Comden and Green wrote for nine films including the musicals “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952), “The Band Wagon” (1953), “It’s Always Fair Weather” (1955) and “Bells are Ringing” (1960).

Shortly before Green’s death in 2002, Comden and Green were presented with the Screen Laurel Award, the Writers Guild of America’s highest honour for screenwriting.

Through their friendship with Bernstein, Comden and Green were hired to write the book and lyrics for “On the Town” in 1944, and performed one of the numbers in the stage hit, which was the first Broadway show for all of them.

That collaboration, which also included famed director George Abbott and choreographer Jerome Robbins, led to other theatrical triumphs including “Wonderful Town” and “Peter Pan”.

Comden is survived by her daughter, Suzanne. She was preceded in death by her husband, Steven Kyle, and her son, Alan.

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