In 1919, Arthur promoted his nephew to production stage manager, giving the young manHammersteinthe opportunity to rewrite scripts that needed improvement.
Also in 1919,Hammersteinwrote his own work, calledThe Light, which his uncle produced. Despite the relative failure of the work, the young man continued with his writing. In 1920, he collaborated with Rodgers and Hart on the writing of a college program calledFly with me. Shortly after,Hammersteinhe dropped out of graduate school at Columbia to focus his efforts entirely on musical theater.
Hammersteinsucceeded as a librettist for the first time withWildflower, a collaboration with Otto Harbach produced in 1923. He achieved even greater success withRose marie1924, which he created in collaboration with Harbach, as well as Herbert Stothart and Rudolf Friml. As Rose Marie wrote,Hammersteinmet Jerome Kern. In 1925, the duo teamed up to writeShow Boat. The hit musical putHammersteinon the map as a writer and lyricist.
Hammersteinhe divorced his first wife, Myra, in 1929 and married Dorothy Blanchard Jacobson. They had a son, named James; Dorothy had a daughter, Susan, and a son, Henry, from a previous marriage.
He continued to collaborate with Kern on various musicals, includingSweet adeline(1929),Music in the Air(1932),Three sisters(1934) andVery Warm for May(1939). In 1943, he wrote the lyrics and book ofCarmen Jones, an updated version of George Bizet’s Carmen set during World War II and featuring an African-American cast. The musical was adapted into a 1954 film, starring Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge.
For his next theatrical collaboration,Hammersteinwas exclusively associated with Rodgers and their first Broadway musical together,Oklahoma(1943), it was a great success. Oklahoma! won a special award and a Pulitzer Prize Commendation in 1944.
In 1950, Rodgers andHammersteinearned a second Pulitzer in the drama category with the musicalSouth Pacific. The duo produced a number of hit musicals during Broadway’s Golden Age, includingCarousel(1945),The King and I(1951) andThe Sound of Music(1959), which was Rodgers and Hammerstein’s last collaboration.
While he was still in his professional prime,Hammersteinlost his battle with stomach cancer on August 23, 1960. He died at his home in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. In his memory, the Broadway lights went out at 9 p.m. on September 1.
In 1995, the centenary ofHammersteinwas celebrated around the world with recordings, books and concerts created to commemorate the “man who owned BroadwayThe following Broadway season, three of the musicals fromHammersteinaired on Broadway at the same time:Show Boat,The King and IYState fair. Show Boat and The King and I won Tonys for Best Musical Revival, and State Fair was nominated for Best Musical Score.