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HOME > Biographical > 100 New Yorkers of the 1970s > EASTSIDER SAMMY CAHN
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Oscar-winning lyricist


"I've never written a song that didn't almost write itself," says Sammy Cahn, one of the world's most successful lyricists of popular songs. "I'm like the catalyst. It's like I start the boulder down the hill, but after that, there's only one place it can go. I'm always thrilled by the adventure of finding the lyric and leading it to a happy conclusion. If I come to the slightest impasse, I've learned to stop, and look around and see what needs to be done around the house. Then I come back, and it's so easy. You can't go into combat with a lyric."

Over the past four decades, his songs have received four Oscars and more than 30 Oscar nominations. Among his numerous hits, written in collaboration with six different melodists, are "Three Coins in a Fountain," "Love and Marriage," "Call Me Irresponsible" and "Let It Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!" His musicals include Anchors Aweigh and High Button Shoes. As a performer, he has the distinction of making his Broadway debut in 1974 at the age of 60, in a one-man show with backup musicians titled Words and Music, in which he sang his own material and told colorful stories about his life and career. For his performance, Sammy won the Outer Circle Critic's Award for Best New Talent on Broadway, as well as a Theatre World Award. Since then, he has been in great demand all over the country as an entertainer.

Small, wiry and energetic — he describes himself as "all glasses and mustache" — he is utterly without pretension, and seems as much at home with strangers on the street as he is with royalty (last year he sang for England's Prince Charles). He manages to embrace both worlds by involving himself in many projects simultaneously.

Born on "the lowest part of the Lower East Side," he now has an apartment in the East 60s with his wife Tita, a fashion designer. He has another residence in Los Angeles, and spends about the same number of days each year in the two homes.

Recently Sammy completed the songs for a new cartoon film of Heidi and a series of songs for Sesame Street. He also works as a consultant for Faberge, and has a large office in the company's East Side headquarters. As president of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Sammy devotes much of his time to publicizing the non-profit organi............
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