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Harry B. Smith

Harry B. Smith

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Harry Bache Smith was a writer
A writer is a person who produces literature, such as novels, short stories, plays, screenplays, poetry, or other literary art. Skilled writers are able to use language to portray ideas and images....

, lyricist
A lyricist is a songwriter who specializes in lyrics. A singer who writes the lyrics to songs is a singer-lyricist. This differentiates from a singer-composer, who composes the song's melody.-Collaboration:...

 and composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

. The most prolific of all American stage writers, he is said to have written over 300 librettos and more than 6000 lyrics. Some of his best-known works were librettos for the composer Victor Herbert
Victor Herbert
Victor August Herbert was an Irish-born, German-raised American composer, cellist and conductor. Although Herbert enjoyed important careers as a cello soloist and conductor, he is best known for composing many successful operettas that premiered on Broadway from the 1890s to World War I...

. He also wrote the book or lyrics for several versions of the Ziegfeld Follies
Ziegfeld Follies
The Ziegfeld Follies were a series of elaborate theatrical productions on Broadway in New York City from 1907 through 1931. They became a radio program in 1932 and 1936 as The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air....


Harry was born in Buffalo, New York to Josiah Bailey Smith ( born 1837 ) and Elizabeth Bach ( born 1838 ). According to his autobiography First Nights and First Editions ( Boston: Little, Brown, 1931 ), Harry's actual name at birth was Henry Bach Smith. Harry married twice. His first wife was Lena Reed ( born August 21, 1868 ), whom he married on October 12, 1887 in Chicago, Illinois. Harry and Lena had a son named Sydney Reed Smith ( born July 15, 1892 ). Harry's second wife was the actress Irene M. Bentley ( 1870 - June 3, 1940 ). Harry married Irene on November 23, 1906 in Boston, Massachusetts, after she had been divorced on June 12, 1906 by her first husband James Thomas Sothoron, Jr. ( 1867–1913 ). Irene retired from the stage in 1910, and died at Allenhurst, New Jersey. She is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery ( Webster Avenue & East 233rd Street, Bronx, NY ). While on a brief New Year's holiday in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Harry died of a heart attack ( on Jan. 1, 1936 ) in his room at the Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel
Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel
The Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel was a historic resort hotel property in Atlantic City, New Jersey, built in 1902-1906, demolished in 1979.In 1902, Josiah White III bought a parcel of land near Ohio Avenue and the Boardwalk, and built the Queen Anne style Marlborough House. The hotel was financially...

. Later that day his body was shipped to a New York undertaker.

Harry's younger brother Robert Bache Smith ( June 4, 1875 - Nov. 6, 1951 ) was also a successful lyricist. Harry worked on many of the famous musical theatre
Musical theatre
Musical theatre is a form of theatre combining songs, spoken dialogue, acting, and dance. The emotional content of the piece – humor, pathos, love, anger – as well as the story itself, is communicated through the words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an...

 productions of his time.

Selected productions by Harry B. Smith

  • Robin Hood
    Robin Hood (comic opera)
    Robin Hood is a comic opera by Reginald De Koven , Harry B. Smith and Clement Scott . The story is based on the Robin Hood legend, during the reign of King Richard I . The opera was composed in Chicago, Illinois during the winter of 1888-1889.Robin Hood was first performed at the Chicago Opera...

     - operetta libretto written in winter of 1888-1889 (and 1944 revival)
  • Rob Roy - opera, libretto written in 1894
  • The Serenade
    The Serenade
    The Serenade is an operetta with music and lyrics by Victor Herbert, and book by Harry B. Smith. Produced by a troupe called "The Bostonians", it premiered on Broadway on March 16, 1897 at the Knickerbocker Theatre and ran initially for 79 performances...

     - musical, lyrics written in 1897
  • The Fortune Teller
    The Fortune Teller (operetta)
    The Fortune Teller is an operetta in three acts written by Victor Herbert, with a libretto by Harry B. Smith. After a brief tryout in Toronto, it premiered on Broadway on September 26, 1898 at Wallack's Theatre and ran for 40 performances...

     - operetta libretto written in 1898
  • Foxy Quiller - operetta written in 1900
  • The Belle of Bohemia - operetta written in 1900
  • The Liberty Belles - musical; ran on Broadway in 1901-2
  • The Wild Rose - operetta written in 1902
  • Miss Dolly Dollars
    Miss Dolly Dollars
    Miss Dolly Dollars is a musical comedy written in two acts with the book and lyrics by Harry B. Smith and music by Victor Herbert. The musical concerns a wealthy American girl in Europe, who is sought after by bankrupt aristocrats...

     - musical, book and lyrics written in 1905
  • The Spring Maid - musical, book and lyrics written in 1910
  • Sweethearts - operetta libretto written in 1913 (and 1947 revival)
  • The Girl from Montmartre - musical, lyrics written in 1913
  • Very Good Eddie
    Very Good Eddie
    Very Good Eddie is a musical with a book by Guy Bolton and Philip Bartholomae, music by Jerome Kern, and lyrics by Schuyler Green and Herbert Reynolds, with additional lyrics by Elsie Janis, Harry B. Smith and John E. Hazzard and additional music by Henry Kailimai. The story was based on the farce...

     - musical, additional lyrics written 1915 (and 1975-76 revival)
  • The Century Girl - musical, additional lyrics written in 1916
  • Love o' Mike - musical, lyrics written in 1917
  • Ladies First - musical, book and lyrics written in 1918
  • The Canary - musical, book written in 1918
  • Florodora
    Florodora is an Edwardian musical comedy and became one of the first successful Broadway musicals of the 20th century. The book was written by Jimmy Davis under the pseudonym Owen Hall, the music was by Leslie Stuart with additional songs by Paul Rubens, and the lyrics were by Edward Boyd-Jones...

     - 1920 revival (revised book)
  • Caroline - operetta; lyrics written in 1923
  • The Love Song - operetta; English lyrics written in 1925
  • Princess Flavia - operetta; English lyrics written in 1925
  • Countess Maritza
    Countess Maritza
    Gräfin Mariza is an operetta in three acts composed by Hungarian composer Emmerich Kálmán, with a libretto by Julius Brammer and Alfred Grünwald. It premiered in Vienna on 28 February 1924 at the Theater an der Wien....

     - operetta; English lyrics written in 1926
  • The Circus Princess - musical, lyrics written in 1927
  • Rogues and Vagabonds - musical written in 1930
  • Three Little Girls - play, lyrics written in 1930

External links

  • Harry B. Smith at the Internet Broadway Database
    Internet Broadway Database
    The Internet Broadway Database is an online database of Broadway theatre productions and their personnel. It is operated by the Research Department of The Broadway League, a trade association for the North American commercial theatre community....