Kern, Jerome [key], 1885–1945, American composer of musicals, b. New York City. After studying in New Jersey and New York he studied composition in Germany and England. His first success was the operetta The Red Petticoat (1912). Among the numerous musicals that followed were Leave It to Jane (1917), Sally (1920), Sunny (1925), The Cat and the Fiddle (1931), and Roberta (1933). After 1931 he wrote scores for many films, including versions of several of his stage successes. His outstanding work is Show Boat (1927), for which Oscar Hammerstein 2d wrote an adaptation of Edna Ferber's novel. Kern's many famous songs include “Ol' Man River,” from Show Boat, and “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” from Roberta. He also wrote an orchestral work, A Portrait of Mark Twain (1942).
See biographies by G. Bordman (1980) and M. Freedman (1986).
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