21 Facts About Herbert Kretzmer


Herbert Kretzmer OBE was a South African-born English journalist and lyricist.

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Herbert Kretzmer was best known as the lyricist for the English-language musical adaptation of Les Miserables and for his long-time collaboration writing the English-language lyrics to the songs of French songwriter Charles Aznavour.

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Herbert Kretzmer was one of four sons of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants William and Tilly Kretzmer, who fled the pogroms of Tsarist Russia to settle in small-town South Africa early in the 20th century.

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Herbert Kretzmer matriculated at Kroonstad High School and then attended Rhodes University.

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Herbert Kretzmer subsequently relocated to London in 1954, and pursued twin careers as journalist and lyric writer.

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Herbert Kretzmer became senior drama critic of the Daily Express in 1962.

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Herbert Kretzmer held this post for 16 years, covering approximately 2,500 first nights during this time.

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Kretzmer wrote lyrics for the BBC's 1960s televised satire That Was the Week That Was, including the racial satire "Song of Nostalgia for an All-American State" and the much-recorded tribute to John F Kennedy, "In the Summer of His Years", co-written by Kretzmer and performed by Millicent Martin within hours of his assassination.

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Herbert Kretzmer won an Ivor Novello Award for the Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren comedy hit "Goodness Gracious Me", co-composed with David Lee.

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Herbert Kretzmer wrote the lyrics for Anthony Newley's musical film Can Hieronymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness, whose score included "When You Gotta Go", often used as a closing song by singers including Barbra Streisand.

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Herbert Kretzmer wrote the book and lyrics of the West End musical, Our Man Crichton, composed by David Lee and based on J M Barrie's satirical play The Admirable Crichton.

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Herbert Kretzmer later wrote the lyrics for a large-scale comedy parody, The Four Musketeers, which ran for more than a year at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, starring Harry Secombe as the swordsman d'Artagnan.

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Herbert Kretzmer's lyrics extended the two-hour Paris original into a three-hour show.

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Herbert Kretzmer wrote the lyrics for Marguerite in 2008 from an original text by Alain Boublil.

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Herbert Kretzmer was appointed a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1988.

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Herbert Kretzmer received the Jimmy Kennedy Award for services to songwriting.

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Herbert Kretzmer received an Honorary Doctorate from Rhodes University in South Africa on 7 April 2011.

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Herbert Kretzmer was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 2011 New Year Honours for services to music.

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Herbert Kretzmer was nominated for Best Original Song at the 85th Academy Awards and the 70th Golden Globe Awards for the song "Suddenly" from the 2012 film version of Les Miserables.

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Herbert Kretzmer married Elisabeth Margaret Wilson in 1961; the couple had one son and one daughter.

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Herbert Kretzmer died on 14 October 2020, at his home in London, nine days after his 95th birthday.

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