Lyricist and poet Fran Landesman, whose last book, Small Day Tomorrow, was published by Circumstantial Productions in 2006, died in London on July 23, 2011.
Fran Landesman was born Frances Deitsch in New York City on October 21, 1927. She attended private schools, and later Temple University and the Fashion Institute of Technology. While in New York, she met writer and publisher Jay Landesman, whom she married on July 15, 1950.
The Landesmans moved to St. Louis, Missouri, his hometown, where he and his brother Fred started the Crystal Palace nightclub.
This was a successful venture, giving Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce and Barbra Streisand their first breaks in cabaret, as well as producing avant-garde theatre.
Fran Landesman’s experiences sitting in the bar of the Crystal Palace, listening to musicians and audiences, led her to begin writing song lyrics in 1952. Set to music by Tommy Wolf, two of her early lyrics, “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most” and “Ballad of the Sad Young Men” became jazz standards recorded by Ella Fitzgerald, Bette Midler, Barbra Streisand, and Sarah Vaughan.
In 1960, she began composing with singer/pianist/composer Bob Dorough who had been brought to St. Louis by Tommy Wolf to play the lead in Nelson Algren’s A Walk on the Wild Side. Their song “Nothing Like You” was recorded by Miles Davis and included on his 1967 album Sorcerer.
In 1964 the Landesmans moved to London, where she wrote lyrics for a number of well-known musicians and performers including Georgie Fame and Dudley Moore.
In the 1970s, Fran Landesman began writing poetry. She published several volumes, and performed at festivals and on BBC Radio.
In 2006, Circumstantial Productions published a collection of her lyrics and poems, Small Day Tomorrow, edited by publisher Richard Connolly.
“Small Day Tomorrow” has been recorded by many singers and was the title of Bob Dorough’s Candid Records CD in 2007.
In May 2010 the South Bank Centre presented “A Night Out with Fran Landesman” at the Purcell Room and in April 2011 the Leicester Square Theatre presented ‘An Evening with Fran Landesman’ as part of the Art of Song Festival.
Fran Landesman’s last appearance was at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art on July 21, 2011, two days before her death at age 83.