A wildly playful writer who penned antic verse (and choice romantic lyrics) for the musicals Bloomer Girl, Finian's Rainbow, Jamaica, The Happiest Girl in the World, Darling of the Day, Flahooley and the film "The Wizard of Oz," Harburg (1896-1981) was also fiercely supportive of liberal social causes.
His political feelings often seeped into his shows, offering views on slavery, freedom, women's suffrage, class, the arms race, war and more.*
Fans know that in addition to standards such as "Paper Moon," "April in Paris" and "How Are Things in Glocca Morra?" he wrote socially-potent lyrics for "When the Idle Poor Become the Idle Rich" (about class distinction, from Finian's Rainbow), "Leave de Atom Alone" (about nuclear arms, from Jamaica), "Napoleon" (about the fleeting fame of celebrities, tyrants and politicians, from Jamaica ), "The Eagle and Me" (the expression of a runaway slave in Bloomer Girl)….
Finian's Rainbow was the first Broadway show in which black and white performers danced together.
The Yip Harburg- Harold Arlen classic "Over the Rainbow" was named the number one film song of all time by the American Film Institute; in 2001 it was chosen as the greatest song of the 20th century in a Recording Industry Association of America/National Endowment for the Arts poll….
*Blacklisted in Hollywood and TV from 1950-1962.