Name at birth: Oscar Greeley Clendinning Hammerstein II
Oscar Hammerstein II was one of the 20th century's most influential writers of musical plays, a lyricist who collaborated with composer Richard Rodgers on some of the most successful musicals in U.S. history, including Oklahoma! and The Sound of Music. The son of a noted New York opera impresario, Hammerstein began writing plays and librettos in 1917. Early in his career he worked with Jerome Kern and George Gershwin and made a name for himself with musicals such as Rose Marie and Showboat. In the early 1940s he began a long collaboration with Rodgers that resulted in many successful stage musicals and movies, including Carousel, South Pacific, Flower Drum Song and The King and I. Hammerstein won Oscars for the songs "The Last Time I Saw Paris" (from 1941's Lady Be Good) and "It Might As Well Be Spring" (from 1945's State Fair), but his most famous song is probably "Ol' Man River." He died of stomach cancer when he was 65.
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