Simanaitis Says

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THOSE MUSICAL NEWMANS PART 1

I WATCH A LOT of Turner Classic Movies and the name “Newman” often appears in music credits. I also enjoy the music of Randy Newman and recall he’s related to these other Newmans. Indeed, the Newman family tree is replete with movie and TV composers. Here, in Parts 1 and 2 today and tomorrow, are tidbits on the Newmans, as well as a partial family tree showing a multiplicity of their musical branches.

Russian-Jewish Heritage. Michael Nemorosky and Luba Koskoff were of Russian-Jewish background. Luba’s father was a cantor from whom she may well have inherited a musical gene. Any religious gene seems to have gone awry: As we’ll learn here anon, the Newman kids grew up generally non-observant.

Alfred, a Prodigy and More. Born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1900, Alfred was the first of the Newman’s ten children, seven of them sons, five of these destined to have musical futures. Wikipedia notes, “By the age of eight he had become known locally as a piano prodigy. His talent led virtuoso Ignacy Jan Paderewski to arrange a recital for him in New York….” At the age of 13, Alfred began traveling the vaudeville circuit as a “Marvelous Boy Pianist,” as well as occasionally conducting the orchestra. 

Alfred Newman, 1900–1970, American composer, arranger, and conductor of film music. Image c. 1913, in National Magazine, November 1914, from Wikipedia. 

Alfred’s conducting career evolved and, in 1930, Irving Berlin invited him to Hollywood to conduct a film score. In time, Newman became Samuel Goldwyn’s favorite movie composer and even took lessons with Arnold Schoenberg.

A publicity photo of Alfred Newman, 1946. Photofest image from Vanity Fair, February 18, 2016.

Film Legacy. Alfred Newman’s credits appear in more than 200 films over his 40-year career. Among these I’ve recently enjoyed are Miracle on 34th Street, 1947; All About Eve, 1950; and How to Marry a Millionaire, 1953. In fact, maestro Newman has a cameo role at the beginning of this Betty Grable/Marilyn Monroe/Lauren Bacall flick. 

Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable, and Lauren Bacall, as seen in How to Marry a Millionaire, 1953.

Alfred Newman actively produced film music until his death at age 69 in 1970. His last film score was for Airport, 1970, another flick I’ve recently enjoyed.

Tomorrow in Part 2, we’ll meet four of Alfred’s brothers, Emil, Irving, Marc, and Lionel. Not a slacker among them, nor among any of their offspring. ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2022

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