Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dory Previn, 1925-2012

Dionne Warwick singing the theme to Valley of the Dolls (1967)

Lyricist and singer Dory Previn (née Langdon; sometimes using the professional name Shannon) has died at the age of 86. I didn't know too much about her as a singer, since I'm more interested in movies than in the songs of her day. The first time I noticed her was having written the lyrics to the songs in Valley of the Dolls, that delightfully bad 1967 film about how three actresses learn fame comes at a high price. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a good Youtube version of Susan Hayward singing "I'll Plant My Own Tree" in front of that ghastly mobile.

Previn didn't actually do too much work in Hollywood; most of what she did was during the decade she was married to André Previn at the time when he was composing film scores before he became much more prominent as a conductor. However, her lyrics did get her nominated for three Oscars, two with André writing the music and the third (for The Sterile Cuckoo in 1969) with music by Fred Karlin. Valley of the Dolls was not one of the three.

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