You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Bill Lewis Downer

Bill Lewis Downer, a major figure in American music publishing for four decades, died Feb. 26 of heart failure at his home in Los Angeles. He was 86.

Downer rose through the music-publishing ranks in the 1940s as head of Decca Records’ Northern Music satellite, a position he retained after the firm merged with Universal Pictures and later MCA Music. At MCA, he acquired the rights to several hundred major copyrights.

A longtime friend to jazz artists, he nurtured and provided material for such performers as Billie Holiday, Carmen McRae, Al Hibler and Louis Jordan. He also worked with such performers as Rosemary Clooney, Sammy Davis Jr., Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Jo Stafford and Doris Day.

Among his publishing accomplishments, Downer promoted Victor Young and Edward Heyman’s “When I Fall in Love,” and Jay Livingston and Ray Evans’ “Tammy,” as well as numerous compositions of Henry Mancini and Rod McKuen.

He also packaged a group of songs that Brenda Lee turned into hits, including “I’m Sorry,” “Dum Dum” and “Break It to Me Gently.”

In his spare time, Downer was a horticulturist who contributed frequently to the Los Angeles Times and the Brooklyn Horticultural Society.

He is survived by a sister.

There will be a memorial gathering April 16 at the home of Roger and Jennifer Warren Gimbel. For information, call (323) 935-4716.

More Scene

  • Atmosphere91st Annual Academy Awards, Governors Ball

    Inside the 2019 Oscar Parties

    Stars party all around Hollywood before, during, and after the Oscars. Here, Variety hits the town to give you the inside scoop on all the star-studded soirées. Keep checking back throughout the weekend for the latest updates… Variety x Armani Beauty Makeup Artistry Dinner Sunset Tower, Los Angeles, Feb. 20 Variety and Giorgio Armani Beauty honored makeup artists [...]

  • Speaker of the United States House

    Nancy Pelosi, Ava DuVernay Honored at VH1 Trailblazers Event

    Cher is feeling a little better about what’s happening in Washington, D.C. “When I see Trump spew his hate and tell his gazillion lies, I get pissed off and feel uneasy at the same time,” the Oscar winner and frequent Trump critic said Wednesday while introducing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at VH1 Trailblazers [...]

  • Karl Lagerfeld'Lagerfeld Confidential' Photocall at the

    Karl Lagerfeld Remembered at Costume Designers Guild Awards

    The death of fashion and costume designer Karl Lagerfeld cast somewhat of a shadow over the usually jubilant Costume Designers Guild Awards — the only award show where clothes literally steal the spotlight away from actors — which was held at the Beverly Hilton on Tuesday night. Here it was obvious that Lagerfeld’s impact on [...]

  • Kate Bosworth'Nona' film premiere, New York,

    Kate Bosworth Helps Launch Campaign for Female Filmmakers

    In her 20-year career in Hollywood, Kate Bosworth has starred in blockbusters like “Superman Returns” as well as indie darlings like 2014’s “Still Alice.” But the actress has always had a desire to get more involved from the ground up. Now, she is partnering with Women In Film and Chloe Wine Collection to launch the [...]

  • Amandla Stenberg and Sofia CarsonVanity Fair

    Oscar Week Kicks Off With Vanity Fair's New Hollywood Party

    The night was definitely still young Tuesday at Vanity Fair’s New Hollywood party in Los Angeles. The magazine kicked off Oscar week with a party — the first of its three-event Campaign Hollywood series — at Ysabel in West Hollywood to celebrate new and emerging talent. Co-hosted by Yalitza Aparicio, Henry Golding and Amandla Stenberg [...]

  • Oscars Ultimate Party Guide

    Oscars Ultimate Party Guide 2019

    Welcome to Oscar week. It’s the time of year when Hollywood’s film industry celebrates all things movies. But it’s certainly not just the big show everyone is looking forward to. With voting closed, it’s all about the parties now. Who’s doing what and where and when are they doing it are the questions everyone is [...]

  • Yalitza AparicioTeen Vogue Young Hollywood Party,

    'Roma' Star Yalitza Aparicio, 'Central Park Five's' Jharrel Jerome Sound Off on Trump

    Yalitza Aparicio recently reunited with Alfonso Cuarón, who directed her in “Roma,” for a W magazine photo project that featured her standing at various barriers built at the border between Mexico and the United States. The message? “You can make a name for yourself despite the differences,” Aparicio told Variety on Friday at Teen Vogue’s Young [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content