Sheldon Harnick Obituary: Everyone Pay Tribute to the Lyricist Behind “Fiddler on the Roof”

sheldon harnick obituary
sheldon harnick obituary

Sheldon Harnick (1928-2010) was a Broadway lyricist best known for his collaborations with composer Jerry Bock, including the blockbuster musicals “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Fiorello!” On June 23, 2023, he dἰed at the age of 99 in his residence in New York City.

“Fiddler on the Roof” was one of the most influential plays for me, when it comes to plays. It’s heartbreaking to hear of Sheldon Harnick’s pἀssing. Sunrise and Sunset, RIP Sheldon Harnick, who joined forces with Jerry Bock to form one of the greatest songwriting partnerships in Broadway history, and who wrote such classics as She Loves Me and Fiddler on the Roof, has pἀssed away. The lyrics to the musicals She Loves Me and Fiddler on the Roof were written by Bock and Harnick.

Sheldon Harnick’s Life and Remarkable Legacy

Early in his career, Harnick wrote the music and the lyrics, but he soon established a reliable working relationship with Bock as the composer. Together, they created hit musicals that won accolades. Their debut, “The Body Beautiful,” from 1958, did not perform well but attracted the correct attention.

In 1959’s “Fiorello,” directed by George Abbott (1887-1995) and produced by Hal Prince (1928-2019), Harnick and Bock were hired to write the music. The successful musical, which focused on powerful New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, brought Harnick and Bock both a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize.

sheldon harnick obituary
sheldon harnick obituary

Following the triumph of “Fiorello!” the team released “Tenderloin” and “She Loves Me,” the latter of which had a mediocre opening but later became a cult favorite. Their most well-known and enduring hit followed. The lead character Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof” was originally played by Zero Mostel (1915–1977) and afterward by Topol (1935–2023).

It produced several songs that became standards, such as “If I Were a Rich Man” and “Sunrise, Sunset,” bringing Harnick and Bock two more Tony Awards. For ten years, “Grease” held the record for the longest-running Broadway musical before it was overtaken.

After “Fiddler on the Roof,” Harnick and Bock only collaborated on a few future musicals due to a disagreement over one of their final productions, “The Rothschilds.” Working with composers like Mary Rodgers (1931-2014), Michel Legrand (1932-2019), and Richard Rodgers (1902-1979), Harnick continued to pen lyrics. His subsequent works include “A Wonderful Life,” a stage version of the beloved movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and an operatic adaptation of the young-adult novel “The Phantom Tollbooth.”

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Many People Have Paid Tributes to Sheldon Harnick

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Marietta works as a freelance media consultant. She has a background in television, where she was responsible for developing content distribution methods for children’s intellectual property that aided in the success of businesses such as consumer items, publishing, and gaming.