NEW YORK — Memories of Alan Jay Lerner flooded Broadway's Shubert Theater Thursday at a memorial service for the noted lyricist, who died here June 14, of cancer, at age 67.
"Few men in our melancholy age gave so much pleasure to so many people," said historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., echoing the sentiments of the dozen other friends and colleagues of Lerner's who were present along with a standing-room-only audience that included Lerner's widow, actress Liz Robertson.
Among those to speak or perform from the stage of the Shubert were Julie Andrews, Leonard Bernstein, John Cullum, Richard Kiley, Sidney Kingsley, and George Rose; Rex Harrison spoke on film from London. Some of the speakers, as well as other Broadway actors and actresses, also sang excerpts from such Lerner shows as "On a Clear Day, You Can See Forever," "Brigadoon," and "Carmelina," while film clips were shown of Harrison, singing from "My Fair Lady," and Maurice Chevalier and Hermione Gingold, from "Gigi." Throughout the 1 1/2 hour long "celebration," the American musical form with which Lerner and his frequent collaborator Frederick Lowe were associated also was remembered.
"I'm just as amazed as everyone else at how good we were and how easy it was for us at times to create," relayed Lowe to the Shubert audience, through a message read by Kitty Carlisle Hart. The message continued, "It won't be long before we'll be writing together again . . . I just hope they have a decent piano up there."