Edward Eliscu dies at 96

Last of the great golden age lyricists

Edward Eliscu, last of the great lyricists from the golden age of Broadway and Hollywood with songs including “Without a Song” and “More Than You Know,” died Thursday of natural causes in Newtown, Conn. He was 96.

Eliscu collaborated with such celebrated songwriters as Vincent Youmans, Gus Kahn, Billy Rose and Vernon Duke on a number of great standards, including “Carioca,” “Orchids in the Moonlight” and “Flying Down to Rio.”

A native New Yorker, Eliscu had a bachelor of science degree from City College of New York and began his career in 1924 as a young actor on Broadway in the play “Quarantine.” After appearing in three more plays, Eliscu directed “Mister Romeo” in 1927 and began writing lyrics the same year.

Among the many Broadway shows for which Eliscu wrote lyrics were “Murray Anderson’s Almanac” (1929), “Great Day!” (1929), “Frederika” (1937) and “Meet the People” (1940).

His Hollywood career began with lyrics for “Diplomaniacs” in 1933. Later that same year, he co-wrote with Kahn the lyrics to the first Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musical, “Flying Down to Rio,” with music by Youmans. From 1935 to 1951, Eliscu co-wrote about a dozen screenplays including “Paddy O’Day” and “Something to Shout About.”

In the 1950s, Eliscu was blacklisted because of his outspoken political views but continued writing for television and theater. In 1962 he wrote the book and lyrics for the Off Broadway musical “The Banker’s Daughter.”

Eliscu was president of the American Guild of Authors and Composers from 1968 to 1973 and was later inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame.

He is survived by his wife, Stella Bloch, and a son.