Edward Kleban (1939-1987)


Mr Kleban won the 1975 Tony, Drama Desk and Olivier Awards and The Pulitzer Prize for his lyrics for A Chorus Line. Joseph Papp produced a workshop of his musical Gallery at The Public Theatre in 1980. He wrote lyrics for songs included in the movies The Hindenberg (music by David Shire) and Brighton Beach Memoirs (music by Michael Small), and music and lyrics for the song “Let’s Hear It For Babies”, sung by Mel Brooks, in the acclaimed television special “Free To Be You And Me.” Mr Kleban was a member of Lehman Engel’s BMI Musical Theatre Workshop for over twenty years. During the 1960s, Mr. Kleban was a record producer at Columbia Records, where he produced many original cast albums including Hallelujah, Baby! and Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris. He was a graduate of The High School of Music and Art and Columbia College, where he wrote music for the 1960 Varsity Show with a book by Terrence McNally. He died in 1987 at the age of 48. The musical A Class Act, produced on Broadway in 2001, is a musical biography that tells his life story with a score comprised of Kleban’s own music and lyrics. Mr Kleban posthumously won an Obie for his score for A Class Act, and he was nominated for a Tony and a Drama Desk Award. The Kleban Foundation, created according to his will, awards grants to aspiring theatre lyricists and bookwriters, so that they may carry on the tradition of the American musical theatre which he loved so dearly. Over the past 18 years The Kleban Foundation has awarded grants totalling more than one million dollars.