Rock the Oscars: Leo Robin and Jule Styne

Lyricist Leo Robin with composer Jule Styne working together on the score of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes at the time of the original production in 1949.

Perhaps the most famous song about Little Rock is “(I’m Just a) Little Girl from Little Rock.”  Written by Leo Robin and Jule Styne, it first appeared on Broadway in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes where it was sung by Carol Channing.  When the title was made into a movie, it was sung by Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell.

Because it was not written for the screen, the song was not eligible for an Oscar.  However, the duo who wrote it had their fair share of Oscar nominations and wins.

Robin, earned ten nominations between 1934 and 1953.  As a lyricist, he collaborated with seven different composers in earning these nominations. His one Oscar came for “Thanks for the Memory” from The Big Broadcast of 1938.  In the film it was sung by Bob Hope and Shirley Ross.  It would be associated with Hope the rest of his life.

Styne also earned ten nominations; his were between 1940 and 1968.  Seven of the nominations were for collaborations with Sammy Cahn.  (There were three other partners with whom he shared nominations, too.)  His win came for “Three Coins in the Fountain” from the film of the same name.  In the movie it was sung by an uncredited Frank Sinatra during the opening title sequence. During the closing credits, an unnamed chorus repeated the song.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes received no Oscar nominations, though Charles Lederer did receive a Writers Guild of America nomination for screenplay of an American Musical.  Though Jane Russell introduced an Oscar winning Best Song in Paleface (“Buttons and Bows”) and Oscar nominated Best Song in Son of Paleface (“Am I in Love”) she never received an Oscar nomination.  Monroe never received one either.  Only co-star Charles Coburn had any luck with Oscar.  He received three nominations, winning once.

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