Clockwise: Film posters for 'The Big Broadcast of 1938', 'The Wizard of Oz', 'Lady Be Good', and 'Pinocchio'.
A year ago, I celebrated the Academy Awards by bringing you the first four songs to win the award for 'Best Original Song'. If you missed it but are interested, you can find it here. Now that the awards are back, I thought it was time to revisit the winners, on this time, I will talk about the songs that won from 1938 to 1941. And I will start with a song that became a signature song for one of the performers. "Thanks for the Memory" had music by Ralph Rainer and lyrics by Leo Robin for the film, 'The Big Broadcast of 1938'. It was performed by Shep Fields and His Orchestra with vocals by Bob Hope and Shirley Ross. Hope continued to sing the song at the end of every television special and show he did for decades to come. This is Shirley Ross and Bob Hope singing "Thanks for the Memory", the 'Best Original Song' from 1938.
And if ever a song was identified with the star that first delivered it on film, it would certainly be the case with the 'Best Original Song' from 1939. With music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by Yip Harburg,
"Over The Rainbow" was one of the early songs from the film 'The Wizard of Oz'. It was sung by a 16-year-old Judy Garland at the beginning of her career. It would be a song she would continue singing for the next three decades, until she died. While it was taken on by so many other performers, to this day, the song belongs to Judy. This is a clip of Judy Garland, playing Dorothy Gale, in 'The Wizard of Oz'.
In 1940, the winning song had something no other winner had previously had. You see, it was sung by an animated character. "When You Wish Upon a Star" from the Disney film 'Pinocchio'. It had music by Leigh Harline and lyrics by Ned Washington, and was sung by Cliff Edwards, who played Jiminy Cricket. But the song was beautiful, and still remains an impressive song today. While it was the first Disney entry in the category, it would not be the last. But in 1940, wit was "When You Wish Upon a Star" from 'Pinocchio' that was 'Best Original Song'.
And finally, we have the second Oscar for composer Jerome Kern, and the first for lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II. Kern had won in 1936 for his song "The Way You Look Tonight" from the film 'Swing Time', then working with lyricist Dorothy Fields. Hammerstein had lost with his previous nomination in 1938, working with composer Ben Oakland. But when Kern and Hammerstein worded together on the score for 'Lady Be Good', there was magic in the air. The soundtrack included great songs like the Gershwin's "Oh! Lady Be Good" and "Fascinating Rhythm", "You'll Never Know" by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed, as well as the song that won the Academy Award, "The Last Time I Saw Paris". Although the song was not written for the film, instead picked up to be a part of the soundtrack after the fact, it was still nominated for the award. It was sung in the film by Ann Southern, who looked gorgeous in the number. This is the winner of 'Best Original Song' from 1941, "The Last Time I Saw Paris" from 'Lady Be Good'.
I hope you enjoy the Academy Awards tonight! Who will win 'Best Original Song' for 2013? The nominees are "Happy" with music and lyrics by Pharrell Williams for 'Despicable Me 2'; "Let It Go", written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez for the Disney film 'Frozen'; "The Moon Song" with music by Karen O and lyrics by Karen O and Spike Jonze for the film 'Her'; and "Ordinary Love", by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton (members of the band U2) and lyrics by Paul Hewson (Bono) for the film 'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom'. The latter is the favorite to win, as it already picked up the Golden Globe for 'Best Original Song'. However, "Let It Go" was named 'Best Original Song' at the Critics Choice Awards.