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Ann Ronell; Composer Wrote Popular Songs, Film Scores

December 30, 1993

Ann Ronell, who was writing popular songs and film scores when women were not writing much American music at all, has died.

Jackie Laster said her longtime friend, who was the widow of film producer Lester Cowan, was 85 when she died Saturday in New York City.

Miss Ronell's song credits range from the children's classic "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" to the soulful and often recorded blues standard "Willow Weep for Me."

Her film work began in 1934 with the little-remembered "Down to Their Last Yacht" and included songs and special dialogue for "One Touch of Venus" in 1940. She composed both music and lyrics for the Broadway musical "Count Me In" in 1942 with its hit wartime tune "The Woman Behind the Man Behind the Gun."

Miss Ronell was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera to write an English libretto for the opera "Martha" and adapted the scores of such operettas as "The Gypsy Baron" and "The Chocolate Soldier" for the Los Angeles and San Francisco light opera associations.

Her collaboration on the score for the 1945 feature film "The Story of G. I. Joe" produced an Academy Award nomination. Her other movie scores included "They Shall Have Music," "Tomorrow the World," "Ladies in Retirement" and "Algiers."

During World War II, she was commissioned to write "The Ernie Pyle Infantry March" in honor of the legendary war correspondent. It was recorded by the First Combat Infantry Band and performed throughout the United States.

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