James Van Heusen Biography
Jimmy Van Heusen (January 26, 1913 - February 7, 1990), was an American composer. His greatest achievements came in writing songs for the movies and television: over the course of his career, he would win four Oscars and an Emmy.
Christened Edward Chester Babcock in Syracuse, New York, Van Heusen began recording his songs in the 1930s. In the early 1940s, Van Heusen teamed up with lyricist Johnny Burke and wrote a number of songs for movies starring Bing Crosby, including "It's Always You" and "Swinging on a Star".
As well as with Burke, he occasionally collabarated with other lyricists such as Johnny Mercer, with whom he wrote I Thought About You, and Eddie DeLange, with whom he wrote Darn That Dream.
By the 1950s he was working with a new lyricist, Sammy Cahn, and wrote a number of popular songs for television series, including "High Hopes" in 1959. His songs also were used for a number of major movies, including the 1949 version of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Rear Window, and the 1960 version of Ocean's Eleven. Van Heusen wrote a musical in 1965 entitled Skyscraper.
Van Heusen and Cahn also wrote songs for Frank Sinatra, frequently being commissioned to write the title songs of his albums - such songs include Come Fly With Me, Only The Lonely and Come Dance With Me.
Van Heusen also wrote songs under the pseudonym "Arthur Williams", the most significant is "I Could Have Told You". He took the name Van Heusen from a shirt company.
He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song 14 times in 12 different years (in both 1946 and 1964 he was nominated for two songs), and won 4 times: in 1944, 1957, 1959, and 1963. He won an Emmy Award for "Best Musical Contribution" in 1956, and was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1965.
Van Heusen retired in the late 1970s. His songs continue to be used in movies and television series today: Married... with Children used his "Love and Marriage" song (lyrics by Sammy Cahn) for the series theme, and two of his songs were used for the soundtrack of American Beauty (1999 film).
He died in Rancho Mirage, California in 1990 at the age of 77.