George Gershwin (Jacob Gershowitz)
Photos with George Gershwin
BiographyBrooklyn, New York City, New York, USA
He was born Jacob Gershowitz, 26 September 1898, in Brooklyn, New York, of Russian-Jewish immigrants. As a boy he could play popular and classical works on his brother Ira's piano by ear. In 1913 he quit school to study music and began composing for Tin Pan Alley; by 1919 he had his first hit "Swanee" and his first Broadway show "La, La, Lucille." In less than three weeks in 1924 he composed "Rhapsody in Blue," originally for Paul Whiteman's relatively small swing band and later orchestrated by Ferde Grofé. Read more... (which included "Someone to Watch Over Me") the year after that. Success continued: "Funny Face" (1927), the tone poem "American in Paris" (1928), "Girl Crazy" (1929), "Of Thee I Sing" (1931 the first musical to win the Pulitzer Prize), and the first true American opera: "Porgy and Bess" (1935). He moved to Hollywood were his songs were performed by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. In 1937 he fell in love with Paulette Goddard, then married to Charlie Chaplin. He was heartbroken that she would not leave her husband for him. When he fell ill, that June, it was written off as stress. A month later he died of a brain tumor, five hours after a failed surgical attempt to remove it. Funerals were hold in both Hollywood and New York.