Jerry Herman, the musical mind behind Broadway classics like Hello, Dolly! and La Cage aux Folles, has died

By Alexia Fernandez
December 27, 2019 10:43 AM
Jerry Herman 
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP/Shutterstock

Jerry Herman, the Broadway composer behind Hello, Dolly!, has died. He was 88.

Herman’s goddaughter confirmed his death to The Associated Press on Friday. The renowned composer died of pulmonary complications in Miami, Florida, the AP reported.

During his career, Herman worked on several iconic Broadway shows including Hello, Dolly! (1964) and La Cage aux Folles (1983) — both of which garnered him Tony Awards for best musical. He was nominated a total of five times.

Herman also won two Grammy Awards for the cast album of Mame and song of the year for Hello, Dolly!

The composer was born in New York City in 1931. His parents owned a children’s summer camp in the Catskills where he taught himself to play the piano.

Jerry Herman
Jim Cooper/AP/Shutterstock

He was inspired to write musicals after his parents took him to see Annie Get Your Gun.

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Herman spoke to the AP in 1996 about his inspiration, saying, “I thought what a gift this man has given a stranger. I wanted to give that gift to other people. That was my great inspiration, that night.”

He is the only composer to have had three original Broadway productions running at the same time — Hello, Dolly!, Mame, and Dear World all ran from February to May in 1969.

Several actors remembered Herman on social media, with Bernadette Peters tweeting, “How Sad,,,Jerry Herman has passed away ,,,of course he made it to Christmas and left us the next day !! He was always so enthusiastic and uplifting about things and gave us the wonderful show Hello Dolly among others !!RIP Jerry Dearest.”

Harvey Fierstein also tweeted, “Jerry Herman lost his hard fought battle last night and we lost one of the greats. A collaborator and friend for almost 40 years, I cannot thank him enough for his love, trust, encouragement, support and laughter. Well done, Mr Herman. Bravo!”

Elaine Paige tweeted, “So sad and shocked to hear of the death of Jerry Herman! One of #Broadway’s greatest composer/lyricist! RIP wonderful man.”

Herman is survived by his partner, real estate broker Terry Marler.

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