AMPAS fetes composer's centennial

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is hosting a tribute to Harold Arlen in honor of the late composer’s 100th birthday.

Singer-pianist Michael Feinstein has been tapped to host the salute, featuring film clips and live musical performances of Arlen’s songs.

A nine-time Oscar nominee, Arlen won the original-song trophy in 1939 for penning “Over the Rainbow” with writing partner E.Y. Harburg. Other Arlen songs performed by Judy Garland include “Get Happy” (from 1950’s “Summer Stock”) and the Oscar-nommed “The Man That Got Away” (1954’s “A Star Is Born”).

Four of Arlen’s nominated songs were written with lyricist Johnny Mercer: “Blues in the Night” (from the 1941 film of the same name), “Black Magic” (“Star Spangled Rhythm,” 1942), “My Shining Rhythm” (“The Sky’s the Limit,” 1943) and “Accentuate the Positive” (“Here Come the Waves,” 1944).

Before coming to Hollywood, the New York-born Arlen played in jazz bands and cabarets and tried unsuccessfully to break into vaudeville and Broadway. In the 1930s he teamed up with lyricist Ted Koehler, writing shows for the Cotton Club in Harlem. Their collaboration produced such songs as “Stormy Weather” and “I’ve Got the World on a String,” later recorded by Lena Horne and Fred Astaire, respectively.

Tribute will be held at 8 p.m. on May 19 at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

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