Buddy DeSylva: American musician (1895 - 1950) | Biography
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Buddy DeSylva
American musician

Buddy DeSylva

Buddy DeSylva
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American musician
Was Screenwriter Film producer Songwriter Writer
From United States of America
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio Literature Music
Gender male
Birth 27 January 1895, New York City
Death 11 July 1950, Hollywood (aged 55 years)
Residence New York City
Father: Hal De Forrest
The details (from wikipedia)


George Gard "Buddy" DeSylva (January 27, 1895 – July 11, 1950) was an American songwriter, film producer and record executive. He wrote or co-wrote many popular songs and along with Johnny Mercer and Glenn Wallichs, he founded Capitol Records.


DeSylva was born in New York City, but grew up in California and attended the University of Southern California, where he joined the Theta Xi Fraternity. His father, Aloysius J. De Sylva, was better known to American audiences as the Portuguese-born actor, Hal De Forrest. His mother, Georgetta Miles Gard, was the daughter of Los Angeles police chief, George E. Gard.

DeSylva's first successful songs were those used by Al Jolson on Broadway in the 1918 Sinbad production, which included "I'll Say She Does". Soon thereafter he met Jolson and in 1918 the pair went to New York and DeSylva began working as a songwriter in Tin Pan Alley.

In the early 1920s, DeSylva frequently worked with composer George Gershwin. Together they created the experimental one-act jazz opera Blue Monday set in Harlem, which is widely regarded as a forerunner to Porgy and Bess ten years later.

In April 1924, DeSylva married Marie Wallace, a Zigfield Follies dancer.

In 1925, DeSylva became one third of the songwriting team with lyricist Lew Brown and composer Ray Henderson, one of the top Tin Pan Alley songwriters of the era. The team was responsible for the song Magnolia (1927) which was popularized by Lou Gold's orchestra. The writing and publishing partnership continued until 1930, producing a string of feel-good hits and the perennial Broadway favorite Good News. The popularity of this team was so great that Gershwin's mother supposedly chided her sons for not being able to write the sort of hits turned out by the trio.

DeSylva joined ASCAP in 1920 and served on the ASCAP board of directors between 1922 and 1930. He became a producer of stage and screen musicals. DeSylva relocated to Hollywood and went under contract to Fox Studios. During this tenure, he produced movies such as The Little Colonel, The Littlest Rebel, Captain January, Poor Little Rich Girl and Stowaway. In 1941, he became the Executive Producer at Paramount Pictures, a position he would hold until 1944. At Paramount, he was also an uncredited executive producer for Double Indemnity, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Story of Dr. Wassell and The Glass Key.

The Paramount all-star extravaganza Star Spangled Rhythm, which takes place at the Paramount film studio in Hollywood, features a fictional movie executive named "B.G. DeSoto" (played by Walter Abel) who is a parody of DeSylva.

In 1942, Johnny Mercer, Glenn Wallichs and DeSylva together founded Capitol Records, which continues to this day. He also founded the Cowboy label.

He is sometimes credited as: Buddy De Sylva, Buddy DeSylva, Bud De Sylva, Buddy G. DeSylva and B.G. DeSylva.

Buddy DeSylva died in Hollywood, aged 55, and is buried at Glendale's Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery.

Individual songs

  • Desylva, Buddy, B. G. De Sylva, Lew Brown, and Ray Henderson. Good News: vocal selection. [Place of publication not identified]: Chappell, n.d. OCLC 495863850
  • Henderson, Ray, B. G. De Sylva, and Bud Green. Alabamy Bound. New York: Shapiro, Bernstein & Co, 1925. OCLC 645628000
  • De Sylva, B. G., Lew Brown, and Ray Henderson. Magnolia. 1927. OCLC 918927178

Broadway credits

  • 1919 - La La Lucille (music by George Gershwin)
  • 1922 - George White's Scandals of 1922 (music by George Gershwin, and included premiere of one-act jazz opera Blue Monday)
  • 1922 - Orange Blossoms (music by Victor Herbert)
  • 1922 - The Yankee Princess (music by Emmerich Kalman)
  • 1923 - George White's Scandals of 1923 (music by George Gershwin)
  • 1924 - Sweet Little Devil (music by George Gershwin)
  • 1924 - George White's Scandals of 1924 music by George Gershwin
  • 1925 - Big Boy (music by Joseph Meyer and James F. Hanley)
  • 1925 - Tell Me More! (co-lyricist with Ira Gershwin music by George Gershwin)
  • 1925 - George White's Scandals of 1925 (DeSylva, Brown and Henderson)
  • 1925 - Captain Jinks (music by Lewis Gensler)
  • 1926 - George White's Scandals of 1926 (DeSylva, Brown and Henderson)
  • 1926 - Queen High (music by Lewis Gensler)
  • 1927 - Good News (DeSylva, Brown and Henderson)
  • 1927 - Manhattan Mary (DeSylva, Brown and Henderson)
  • 1928 - George White's Scandals of 1928 (DeSylva, Brown and Henderson)
  • 1928 - Hold Everything! (DeSylva, Brown and Henderson)
  • 1929 - Follow Thru (DeSylva, Brown and Henderson)
  • 1930 - Flying High (DeSylva, Brown and Henderson)
  • 1932 - Take a Chance (music by Nacio Herb Brown, Richard A. Whiting and Vincent Youmans)

Selected filmography

  • Stepping Sisters (1932)
  • My Weakness (1933)

In popular culture

The 1956 Hollywood film The Best Things in Life Are Free, starring Gordon MacRae, Dan Dailey, and Ernest Borgnine, depicted the De Sylva, Brown and Henderson collaboration.

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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