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HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD – TRIBUTE TO JOHNNY MERCER


HOLLYWOOD HISTORY – HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD – TRIBUTE TO JOHNNY MERCER

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John Herndon “Johnny” Mercer (November 18, 1909 – June 25, 1976) was an American songwriter and singer. As a songwriter, he is best known as a lyricist, but he also composed music. He was also a popular singer who recorded his own songs as well as those written by others. From the mid-1930s through the mid-1950s, many of the songs Mercer wrote and performed were among the most popular hits of the time. He wrote the lyrics to more than a thousand songs, including compositions for movies and Broadway shows. He received nineteen Academy Award nominations. Mercer was also a co-founder of Capitol Records.

Mercer was probably the greatest song writer in American history.  He wrote many other songs, some of which have entered the Great American Songbook:

* “Lazy Bones” (1933) (music by Hoagy Carmichael)
* “Save the Bones for Henry Jones”
* “P.S. I Love You” (1934) (music by Gordon Jenkins)
* “Goody Goody” (1936) (music by Matty Malneck)
* “I’m an Old Cowhand from the Rio Grande” (1936)
* “Hooray for Hollywood” (1937) (music by Richard A. Whiting)

* “Too Marvelous for Words” (1937) (music by Richard A. Whiting)
* “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby” (1938) (music by Harry Warren)
* “Jeepers, Creepers!” (1938) (music by Harry Warren)
* “And The Angels Sing” (1939) (music by Ziggy Elman)
* “Day In, Day Out” (1939) (music by Rube Bloom)
* “Wings Over the Navy” (1939) (music by Harry Warren)
* “Cuckoo in the Clock” (1939) (music by Walter Donaldson)
* “Fools Rush In” (1940) (music by Rube Bloom)
* “Blues In The Night” (1941) (music by Harold Arlen)
* “I Had Myself A True Love” (music by Harold Arlen)
* “I Remember You” (1941) (music by Victor Schertzinger)
* “Tangerine” (1941) (music by Victor Schertzinger)
* “This Time the Dream’s on Me” (1941) (music by Harold Arlen)
* “Hit The Road To Dreamland” (1942) (music by Harold Arlen)
* “That Old Black Magic” (1942) (music by Harold Arlen)
* “Skylark” (1942) (music by Hoagy Carmichael)
* “Dearly Beloved” (1942) (music by Jerome Kern)
* “I’m Old Fashioned” (1943) (music by Jerome Kern)
* “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)” (1943) (music by Harold Arlen; theme song of the 1957-1958 NBC detective series, Meet McGraw, starring Frank Lovejoy)
* “Dream” (1943) (words and music by Johnny Mercer)
* “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive” (1944) (music by Harold Arlen)
* “Out of This World” (1945) (music by Harold Arlen)
* “Laura” (1945) (music by David Raksin)
* “Trav’lin’ Light” (1946) (music by Jimmy Mundy and James Osborne “Trummy” Young)
* “Come Rain Or Come Shine” (1946) (music by Harold Arlen)
* “Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home” (1946) (music by Harold Arlen)
* “Autumn Leaves” (1947) (music by Joseph Kosma)
* “Glow Worm” (1952) (music Paul Lincke)
* “Satin Doll” (1953) (music by Duke Ellington)
* “Something’s Gotta Give” (1954) (words and music by Johnny Mercer)
* “Moon River” (1961) (music by Henry Mancini)
* “Days of Wine and Roses” (1962) (music by Henry Mancini)
* “Charade” (1963) (music by Henry Mancini)
* “Lorna” (1964) {music by Mort Lindsey)
* “Emily” (1964) (music by Johnny Mandel)
* “Midnight Sun” (music by Lionel Hampton and Sonny Burke)
* “The Summer Wind” (1965) (music by Henry Mayer)
* “Whistling Away The Dark” (1970) (music by Henry Mancini; from the film Darling Lili)
* “Drinking Again” (with Doris Tauber)
* “When October Goes” (music by Barry Manilow)
* “I Thought About You”

Social History: “Hooray for Hollywood” is a film song first featured in the 1937 movie Hollywood Hotel, and which has since become the staple soundtrack element of any Academy Awards ceremony. It is even frequently played during non-American movie ceremonies, e.g. the French César Awards. The popularity of the song is notably due to the lyrics by Johnny Mercer, which reference the American movie industry and satirize the illusory desire of many people to become famous as actors.

The music was composed by Richard A. Whiting. In the original movie it was sung by Johnnie Davis and Frances Langford, accompanied by Benny Goodman and his orchestra.

Lyrics can be difficult to fully understand today, as they refer to people (e.g. Aimee Semple) or cultural elements (e.g. rotos) which have since been forgotten. They have evolved over the years. Notably the where any shopgirl can be a top girl, if she pleases the tired businessman vanished quite quickly — absent from the 1958 Doris Day version — replaced with and any barmaid can be a star made if she dances with or without a fan. The latter part referring to Sally Rand and her “fan dance”. Today the song is performed mostly as a melody.

The melody was used on the Jack Benny radio show as the final theme song. The song appears in the final shot of Robert Altman’s film The Long Goodbye (1973) starring Elliot Gould as Phillip Marlowe.

The melody was also used for the titular song in the parody of Guys and Dolls in the Mayored to the Mob episode of The Simpsons.
The song is also used as the opening to Disney’s Hollywood Studios Great Movie Ride attraction.

Jay Leno on the Tonight Show from early 2009 did a take off of Rodney Dangerfield telling bandleader, Kevin Eubanks; “How bad the economy is…..” Then, the Tonight Show Band plays a fast melody of Hooray for Hollywood.