Johnny Mercer (top); Mercer, Donald O’Connor, Hoagy Carmichael at the 1951 Academy Awards ceremony (bottom)
Johnny Mercer’s musical legacy will be celebrated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with a gala centennial tribute featuring film clips of many of Mercer’s classic songs, in addition to performances and appearances by friends and colleagues, on Thursday, November 5, at 8 p.m. at the Academy’s Samuel GoldwynTheater in Beverly Hills.
Note: This event is sold-out, but standby tickets may become available.
Program host Michael Feinstein and Monica Mancini (daughter of Mercer’s longtime friend, Henry Mancini) will perform some of Mercer’s best-known songs, while Oscar-winning songwriter-composer Alan Bergman, Oscar-nominated songwriter Arthur Hamilton, actresses Rose Marie and Jane Russell, and Mancini’s widow, Ginny, will also take part in the event.
Born in Savannah, Georgia, on November 18, 1909, Johnny Mercer began writing songs at the age of 15. He is credited for the lyrics of more than 1,700 compositions, including the Oscar-winning “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe” (The Harvey Girls, 1946), “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening” (Here Comes the Groom, 1951), “Moon River” (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 1961), and “Days of Wine and Roses” (Days of Wine and Roses, 1962).
Mercer (above, with Henry Mancini on the left) ended up receiving a total of 18 Academy Award nominations for Best Song (and one more nomination for the song score of Darling Lili, written in collaboration with Mancini). Among his other song lyrics are those for “Blues in the Night,” “I’m Old Fashioned,” “That Old Black Magic” and “Something’s Gotta Give.” Mercer’s anthem to the American movie business – “Hooray for Hollywood” – was even sung at the finale of the Cesar ceremony, which celebrates the French movie business.
Though tickets to “A Centennial Tribute to Johnny Mercer” are sold out, additional tickets typically become available at the last minute due to no-shows and cancellations. There will be a standby line at the west doors of the Academy on November 5. Standby numbers will be given out at 5:30 p.m. The number of standby tickets that can be sold will be determined shortly before the event’s start time.
Tickets are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid ID.
The Samuel Goldwyn Theater is located at the 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. For more information call (310) 247-3600 or visit www.oscars.org.