Saturday, August 18, 2012
Sheldon Harnick was amazed that Tony B. Babino sang exactly like Jolson and even put a spin on Harnick's song "Sunrise, Sunset" and sang it as if he were Jolson himself and it was perfect. Sheldon's eyes welled up and so did mine. That song is sensational and will always be thrilling when applied to the right event. Sheldon is 88 and you would think he was but 65. His dad, a dentist, loved Jolson, always thrilled by his music. Of course, Sheldon has written for the Broadway stage for many years and has collected 10 Emmy's, 9 for Fiddler, and one Pulitzer Prize ( for the drama of Fiorello, a musical he did with Jerry Bock, the composer of both Fiorello and Fiddler.) And, he is still at it, recently composed a new musical not yet released, but soon it will be known and performed on off Broadway. I spent the day with Sheldon and he spent some slow moments reading through my book "When Jolson Was King," and took home a copy. The man is humble and gracious in his manner and has become a true friend. Incidentally he also wrote the song " Artificial Flowers" which helped make Bobby Darin a recording star.
Today, August 18th 2012 at the Al Jolson festival in Oceanside, NY, have had the privilege of introducing Sheldon Harnick a true icon of Broadway. A man who has become one of the leading lyricists in a class with Oscar Hammerstein II, Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter, Frank Loesser, and Irving Berlin. His lyrics written for the great Broadway musical “Fiddler on the Roof” will be performed forever over and over and, all over the world. The song “ Sunrise, Sunset” will be performed forever wherever music is cherished.
This man has earned the coveted Pulitzer Prize for drama for his work in the musical “Fiorello” as well as an Emmy---- and nine Emmy’s for Fiddler, shared with his partner, the late composer Jerry Bock.