Richard Adler, ‘Damn Yankees’ Composer and Lyricist, Dies at 90

Richard Adler, who staged Broadway shows and birthday parties for presidents, died in his New York home Thursday

Richard Adler, the Tony Award-winning composer and lyricist renowned for his songs for such Broadway hits as "Damn Yankees" and "The Pajama Game" and who organized President John F. Kennedy's birthday with Marilyn Monroe, died Thursday in New York. He was 90.

Adler died in his home in Southampton, New York, his widow, Susan A. Ivory, told the Associated Press.

He staged and produced several shows for U.S. presidents, including Kennedy's 1962 birthday featuring Monroe's breathy, seductive rendition of "Happy Birthday."

But his songs went well beyond the average birthday ditty. 

Among his most popular were "Everybody Loves a Lover," "Hernando's Hideaway," "Heart," "Another Time, Another Place," and "Rags to Riches."

Adler's life came full circle in New York City, where he thrived in the sprawling metropolis' theater scene.

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He was born in New York, the son of famed concert pianist Clarence Adler. Raised around music, he began his career as a lyricist after serving in the Navy and teamed up with Jerry Ross in 1950. They worked in tandem, sharing credits on both the words and the music.

The five-year partnership, which produced some of Adler's more popular work, was curtailed when Ross died suddenly in November 1955 at age 29.

He continued working alone or with various partners until 1976, when he composed music for his last original Broadway musical "Music Is."

Since then, his songs have been sampled in such songs as Debelah Morgan's 2000 R&B hit "Dance With Me."

Adler died roughly two months before his 91 birthday at his home on Long Island. According to his daughter-in-law, he is survived by his widow, two sons Andrew Adler and Charles Shipman, daughter Katherine and three grandchildren Damien and Scarlett Adler and Lola Jane Shipman. His son Christopher Adler died in 1984.