2. He is credited with writing music and/or lyrics for over 700 published songs. (Don’t you hate over-achievers?)
3. He was only 59 when he died in 1969, depriving the theatre of what would surely have been many more distinctive songs.
4. Although his first theatrical outing as a composer-lyricist, Where’s Charley?, was a hit (and produced a standard in “Once in Love with Amy”), it was only with his next effort, Guys and Dolls, that Loesser’s genius was recognized.
5. Not content with writing music and lyrics, he branched out as a librettist for his next two pieces, The Most Happy Fella and Greenwillow. (Did the man ever sleep?)
6. And the show-off added “Pulitzer Prize-winner” to his resume for his songs for How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. (He would have won one for Guys and Dolls – the Pulitzer Committee voted for it, but the trustees refused to award it, probably because of librettist Abe Burrows’ trouble with the House Un-American Activities Committee.)
7. Oh, yeah, and he won an Oscar for “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” a song that he and his wife had been singing at parties for years before it was finally scooped up and dropped into the Esther Williams vehicle, Neptune’s Daughter. (Rock Hudson and Mae West (!) infamously performed an interesting version of this song on a later Oscarcast. Watch it here.)
8. Among the songs he wrote are “Jingle, Jangle, Jingle,” “Heart and Soul,” “Inch Worm,” “I Don’t Want to Walk Without You, Baby,” “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?,” “Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year” and “See What the Boys in the Back Room Will Have.”
9. Loesser, who could be rather temperamental; during a rehearsal, he is said to have punched Isabel Bigley, the soprano lead in the original production of Guys and Dolls, because she wasn’t singing “I’ll Know” to his satisfaction. (I’ve been punched for less.)
10. Loesser portrayed a gangster with a musical bent in the Betty Hutton film, Red Hot & Blue; although based on a Cole Porter stage musical, it used none of Porter’s songs, allowing Loesser to write several for it instead (including the unbelievable “Hamlet,” which condenses Shakespeare’s play to a lively four-minute re-telling.)