English-born US composer of songs, mainly for musicals and films. His work includes the scores for the musicals Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1949), Gypsy (1959), and Funny Girl (1964), and he won an Academy Award for the theme song to the film Three Coins in the Fountain (1954).
Life Born in London, Styne was taken to the USA at the age of eight, where he studied piano at the Chicago College of Music, but abandoned a career as a concert pianist to play in popular bands, and went on to become an arranger and a vocal coach in Hollywood. His first hit song was ‘Sunday’ (1926). Amongst those he taught as a voice coach were the singer Ethel Merman and the child star Shirley Temple.
Collaboration with Cahn The lyricist Sammy Cahn was Styne's most frequent collaborator, beginning with ‘I've Heard That Song Before’ for the film Youth on Parade (1942). Other films for which they wrote songs include Follow the Boys (1944), Anchors Aweigh (1945), and The Kid from Brooklyn (1946). In 1947 they turned to the Broadway stage with the musical High Button Shoes, which was to run for two years.
Other work At one time, Styne played the piano in a strip club, and Gypsy (1959), one of his biggest successes, was based on the autobiography of a stripper called Gypsy Rose Lee, with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Funny Girl (1964; filmed 1968) was based on the life of the vaudeville star Fanny Brice.