Before Richard Rodgers joined Oscar Hammerstein II to become the powerhouse Rodgers and Hammerstein, Rodgers partnered with another equally talented song lyricist Lorenz Hart. Thus, from their collaboration birthed some of the greatest songs ever written that were cherished by many vocalists and heard by many people in their Broadway and film productions.
It was while the two New York-bred men were attending Columbia University, that they met through a mutual friend of Rodger's brother. Their shared passion and talent for music struck a chord between Rodgers and Hart. Soon, they were collaborating and producing for variety shows.
However, it was not until 1925 when the duo caught their big break after their songs were performed in a benefit show called, "The Garrick Gaieties." The revue was only meant to run for one day but with the positive response from both audience and critics, the revue ran for 211 performances. Rodgers personally believed the show-stopping song that changed the course of their careers was credit to their song, "Manhattan."
Once The Great Depression hit the entertainment industry hard including Broadway, the duo migrated to Hollywoodland to write music for the screen.
During that time, Rodgers and Hart wrote film scores for when musical films were at the height of their popularity. One of their films, "Love Me Tonight" (1932) starred Maurice Chevalier as a tailor who falls in love with Princess Jeanette (played by Jeanette MacDonald). The film featured some of Rodgers and Hart's classic hits - "Love Me Tonight" and "Isn't it Romantic."
Before they returned to Broadway, two of Rodgers and Hart's musicals were turned into films of their own - "On Your Toes" (1936) from which starred an ensemble cast including Donald O'Connor and James Gleason. "Babes In Arms" (1937) was also another of Rodgers and Harts star-studded musicals with Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney and was directed by the king of musicals, Busby Berkeley.
One of their greatest contributions to films was the musical "Pal Joey" which premiered on Broadway in 1940 with Gene Kelly, Vivienne Segal, June Havoc and Van Johnson headlining the cast. Almost twenty years later, "Pal Joey" (1957) received a film adaptation that starred Rita Hayworth, Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak. With Ol' Blue Eyes in the title role as Joey, Sinatra won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of "Joey."
After Hart's passing in 1943, Rodgers began collaborating with Oscar Hammerstein II and therefore became known as "Rodgers and Hammerstein." Rodgers and Hammerstein became world-renowned for their collaboration in musicals and films including "Oklahoma!", "Show Boat" and Disney's musical adaptation of "Cinderella" (1957).