PBS’ American Masters series devoted an entire episode to the life and work of Richard Rodgers (Season 16, Episode 3: Richard Rodgers: The Sweetest Sounds).
As a companion piece, theatre historian Laurence Maslon contributed this comprehensive and engaging essay arguing Why Richard Rodgers Matters.
Maslon is an arts professor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. He wrote two American Masters documentaries—Richard Rodgers: The Sweetest Sounds (2001) and Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me (2017)—and collaborated with American Masters executive producer Michael Kantor on three documentary series for PBS, including the Emmy Award-winning Broadway: The American Musical. He hosts and produces the weekly NPR radio program “Broadway to Main Street” for WLIW-FM.
From Maslon’s piece:
Among some notes for an unfinished novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald famously (or infamously) observed, “There are no second acts in American lives.” Using only 88 keys and a bottomless supply of genius, composer Richard Rodgers proved Fitzgerald dead wrong, living through a three-act career and providing us with a fourth act in posterity.
You still hear Richard Rodgers’ music everywhere you turn
In the last ten years alone, Rodgers’s music has been used in nearly 50 movies, television shows and commercials, including Bridge of Spies, The Wolf of Wall Street, Watchmen, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and The Simpsons. In the 2021 film Being the Ricardos, an entire scene is recreated from the film version of his 1939 stage musical Too Many Girls, written with Lorenz Hart and featuring Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz.
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