NEW YORK – Cy Coleman (search), composer of the Broadway musicals (search) "Sweet Charity" (search) and "City of Angels" as well as such pop standards as "Witchcraft" and "The Best Is Yet to Come," has died of heart failure. He was 75.
Coleman died Thursday night after attending the opening night performance and party for Michael Frayn's "Democracy" on Broadway. He left the party and went to New York Hospital where he collapsed and died, John Barlow, a spokesman for Coleman, said Friday.
Coleman, an accomplished jazz pianist, was known for his rhythmic, up-tempo style. His pop songs, which also included "Firefly" and "I'm Gonna Laugh You Right Out of My Life," were recorded by such singers as Tony Bennett, Peggy Lee and Nat "King" Cole.
For more than five decades, Coleman wrote music for Broadway shows, starting with material for the 1953 revue "John Murray Anderson's Almanac."
In 1960, he composed his first full score, "Wildcat," with lyricist Carolyn Leigh. The show, which was a vehicle for Lucille Ball, contained the hit song "Hey Look Me Over."
The two then collaborated on "Little Me" (1962), starring television comedian Sid Caesar, playing seven roles. The show, adapted by Neil Simon from the Patrick Dennis novel, contained such songs as "I've Got Your Number" and "Real Live Girl."
Coleman worked again with Simon on his third Broadway musical, "Sweet Charity" (1966), based on Federico Fellini's film, "Nights of Cabiria." Gwen Verdon starred in the show as taxi dancer Charity Hope Valentine. With lyrics by Dorothy Fields, the musical was later made into a film starring Shirley MacLaine.
Fields and Coleman also collaborated on "Seesaw" (1973), starring Michele Lee, Ken Howard and Tommy Tune. The musical was based on William Gibson's play, "Two for the Seesaw."
"I Love My Wife" (1977), a tale of wife-swapping, was his next Broadway musical. Although dismissed by some critics, it ran for nearly two years.
For "On the Twentieth Century" (1978), a score he wrote with Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Coleman received his first Tony Award. Based on the classic farce by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, it featured John Cullum as an egomaniacal producer and Madeline Kahn as his tempestuous star.