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Ray Gilbert

2017 Legend Award


Born in Connecticut and raised in Chicago, Ray Gilbert was an American lyricist best known for penning the lyrics to the Academy Award-winning song "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" from Disney's 1946 film Song of the South. His other songs include "You Belong to My Heart," "Sooner or Later," "Casey at the Bat" and the Andy Williams classic "... and Roses and Roses."


Gilbert got his start as a teenager, selling songs outside Chicago nightclubs, where one of his first big breaks came from entertainer Sophie Tucker. In addition to Song of the South, he wrote music for several Disney animated features. Gilbert worked with Carmen Miranda for over a decade, providing material for her movies and live act, including the classic "Quanto La Gusta." Later, Gilbert was asked to write English lyrics for Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Dindi," launching a collaboration that would extend to other Brazilian songwriters and fuel the 1960s bossa nova craze.


In addition to Jobim, Gilbert's many collaborators included Allie Wrubel, Lou Jacobs and Hoagy Carmichael. His lyrics have been sung by the Andrews Sisters, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Perry Como, Ella Fitzgerald and many more.


In 1962, Gilbert married actress Janis Paige, who appeared in THE PAJAMA GAME and MAME on Broadway, in such films as Silk Stockings and Please Don't Eat the Daisies, and in countless TV series, from All in the Family to Santa Barbara.


Ray Gilbert died in Los Angeles in 1976. He is survived by his wife and his daughter, actress-singer Joanne Gilbert. Gilbert left us with a rich musical legacy that continues to contribute to the soundtrack of our lives.