The Great American Songbook Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with a mission
to inspire and educate by celebrating the Great American Songbook.
Jimmy Van Heusen
2018 LEGEND Award
Born Edward Chester Babcock in Syracuse, New York, Jimmy Van Heusen was clearly one of the most accomplished songwriters in history. Claiming four Academy Awards and one Emmy Award among his credits, he also wrote 85 songs recorded by his longtime friend, Frank Sinatra. For another good friend, Bing Crosby, he composed the songs for six of the seven Crosby/Hope Road pictures. In spite of such accolades, he felt his biggest honor was being elected by his peers as one of the original inductees to the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1971.
Most of Van Heusen’s songs were written with two lyricist partners, Johnny Burke and Sammy Cahn. His collaborations with Burke included two Broadway shows and over 30 films. Together they wrote many hit songs, including “Polka Dots and Moonbeams,” “Imagination” and “Swinging on a Star” (Academy Award winner). His partnership with Cahn produced hits like “Love and Marriage” (Emmy Award winner), “All the Way” (Academy Award winner) and “High Hopes” (Academy Award winner).
In addition to his musical genius, Van Heusen was an accomplished pilot. During World War II, while writing songs for Hollywood movies, he was also doing dangerous work testing fighter planes.
Jimmy Van Heusen wrote over 400 published songs before his death in 1990. Many of those songs are still being recorded and performed today and can be heard regularly in movies and on television.