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Nilo Menendez, Composer of 'Green Eyes,' Dies at 84

September 25, 1987

Nilo Menendez, the Cuban-born composer, pianist and orchestra leader best known for "Green Eyes," one of the most popular songs of the World War II era, has died in Burbank.

He was 84 and died Sept. 15 at St. Joseph Medical Center.

Menendez came to the United States in 1924 and wrote "Green Eyes" ("Aquellos Ojos Verdes") in 1929. Although it had been recorded on other labels, it was not until the Jimmy Dorsey band recorded it in about 1942 that it became a longtime resident of the Hit Parade.

With Adolfo Utrera's lyrics translated into English and sung in alternately slow and swing arrangements by Bob Eberly and Helen O'Connell, the song quickly became a hit and then a standard of American popular song.

Menendez also wrote for films and led bands at various nightclubs around town, including the Mocambo and Clover Club, before moving to Aberdeen, Wash., where vocalist Ginny Simms had opened a club.

He played there until 1981, when he retired and returned to the Los Angeles area.

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