E. Y. Harburg (8 April, 1898 – 5 March, 1981) was an American songwriter and book author who is mostly known for his hit songs for Hollywood and Broadway
1) Born as Isidore Hochberg in New York’s Lower East Side to Jewish immigrants from Russia, he was the youngest of four children (out of 10) who survived to adulthood.
2) His nickname, Yipsel, is Yiddish for squirrel because he was always moving around.
3) He attended high school at Townsend Harris Hall, an experimental school for talented children where he worked at the school newspaper with Ira Gershwin (a fellow student), who later on introduced him to composers and writers.
4) Americana, a 1932 revue, Mr. Harburg worte “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” which was considered to be the anthem of the Depression and an anti-capitalist propgranda.
5) In 1939 Mr. Harburg, along with his long time writing partner Harold Arlen, scored the movie The Wizard of Oz. Mr. Harburg approached the movie as a depression fantasy.
6) The Broadway musical Finian’s Rainbow is considered to be Harburg’s masterpiece.
7) Mr. Harburg was involved in several radical groups (but never of the Communist Party itself) and was blacklisted in Hollywood.
8) The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp in 2005 recognizing Mr. Harburg’s accomplishments.
9) In 1968, Harburg and Arlen wrote Silent Spring to commemorate the death of Martin Luther King, Jr.
10) Mr. Harburg died of a heart attack (not a traffic accident) while sitting at a light, in his car, on Hollywood Boulevard.
Zohar – Man of la Book