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Obituaries

Arthur Malvin, 83; Lyricist, Composer Won Two Emmys

June 26, 2006|Valerie J. Nelson | Times Staff Writer

Arthur Malvin, a composer and lyricist whose work with Carol Burnett and Frank Sinatra earned him two Emmy Awards, and who received a Tony nomination for helping create the musical "Sugar Babies," has died. He was 83.

Malvin died in his sleep at his Century City home June 16 after a long illness, said his daughter, Janet Malvin.

In 1978, Malvin shared an Emmy with Stan Freeman for the mini-musical "Hi-Hat," a Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers parody the pair wrote for "The Carol Burnett Show." He spent 11 years working on the CBS variety program.

He also received an Emmy in 1968 for writing musical material for a Frank Sinatra television special, "A Man and His Music + Ella + Jobim," which featured Ella Fitzgerald and Brazilian bossa nova singer Antonio Carlos Jobim.

"Sinatra was historically known as being difficult to work with, but my father had a fabulous experience," said David Malvin, one of Malvin's two sons.

"It was a highlight of his career."

Another pinnacle was writing material for "Sugar Babies," a pastiche of old-time burlesque material that starred Mickey Rooney and Ann Miller. His nomination for original score was one of eight Tony nominations the musical received in 1980.

"Putting together a Broadway show is usually a long, protracted process," said David Malvin, a former stage manager.

"He came out of 'The Carol Burnett Show,' where they were doing a Broadway show every week. When he showed up for the first rehearsal with everything written, everyone asked, 'What do we do for the rest of the rehearsals?' "

Malvin was born July 7, 1922, in New York City, the youngest of five children of Bernard and Sophie Malvin, Jewish immigrants who had left czarist Russia. His father ran a small hand laundry.

After securing his first singing gig at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, a teenage Malvin got through his first performance by hiding in his hand a 5-cent song sheet with lyrics to the popular songs of the day.

In 1942, he joined the Claude Thornhill Orchestra, a big band known for its innovative arrangements. Later that year, Malvin organized a vocal group called the Crew Chiefs that sang with Maj. Glenn Miller's Army Air Forces Orchestra.

When Malvin was asked, " 'Daddy, what did you do in the war?' he was particularly fond of saying, 'I made doo-wah against the Germans,' " his son said.

After World War II, Malvin toured as a soloist with the Glenn Miller Orchestra that was led by Tex Beneke.

He also sang on children's records and recorded advertising jingles for Sominex, Blue Bonnet margarine, Tang drink mix and many others, Janet Malvin said.

"He wasn't a name, but he was a voice that everyone knew," his daughter said.

As rock music infiltrated advertising in the 1960s, pushing aside Malvin's baritone, he increasingly composed for television, his daughter said.

He worked with Pat Boone, Andy Williams, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, and others.

In addition to his son David of Las Vegas and daughter Janet of Oakland, Malvin is survived by Irene, his wife of 56 years; another son, Daniel, of Los Angeles; and four grandchildren.

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