George Forrest

Songwriter George Forrest's best-known works are the standards "Strangers in Paradise" and "Baubles, Bangles and Beads." With his frequent collaborator Robert Wright (born Robert Craig Wright in 1914), Forrest amassed an enviable list of song credits for the stage and screen. Born George Forrest Chichester Jr. in Brooklyn, NY, he moved to Miami, FL, with his family in the first half of the 1920s. With a small amount of formal musical training, Forrest became adept on the piano as a small child. As a teen, Forrest was accompanying singers in Miami night clubs and sang in his high school glee club -- that's where he met Wright, who was the glee club's pianist. While still in their teens, Forrest and Wright left on a cabaret tour that eight months later wound up in Hollywood, where the duo audition for MGM. Winning a seven-year contract with the movie studio, their first assignment was to score the Jeanette MacDonald/Nelson Eddy movie Maytime. The duo's 72-year songwriting career led to the creation of over 2,000 songs, 16 stage musicals (1944's The Song of Norway, 1961's Kean, 1989's Grand Hotel), 58 motion picture scores, and a myriad of cabaret acts. Their most famous songs, "Strangers in Paradise" and "Baubles, Bangles and Beads," were originally included in the 1953 Tony Award-winning Broadway hit musical Kismet. Peggy Lee's 1953 cover of "Baubles, Bangles and Beads" peaked at number 30 pop, the Kirby Stone Four's 1958 doo wop version hit number 25 pop, and Frank Sinatra covered the song on his Come Dance With Me! LP. The 1955 MGM movie version directed by Vincente Minnelli and starring Howard Keel, Vic Damone, Ann Blyth, and Sebastian Cabot, was nominated for Oscars for the three songs "Always and Always," "It's a Blue World," and "Pennies for Peppino." Kismet was also a 1967 TV special starring Jose Ferrer, Barbara Eden, Anna Maria Alberghetti, George Chakiris, and Hans Conried. The duo won the ASCAP/Richard Rodgers Award in recognition of their contributions to the American musical theater.

At the age of 84, George Forrest died in Miami on October 10, 1999. At the time of his death, he and Robert Wright were collaborating on another musical. See Also All Movie Guide Entry. ~ Ed Hogan

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