The New York Times has posted an obituary for Mitch Leigh, composer of Man of La Mancha. A sweet man, by all accounts, who enjoyed his work in the advertising-jingle world plenty, and then had one immense shining Broadway hit that will endure as long as Broadway shows are around. “The Impossible Dream” is still a show-stopper every time.

Of course, we here at Polaroidland know him for a somewhat briefer masterpiece. Specifically, the best TV commercial of its era:

Most of the old DDB players are gone now. Phyllis Robinson, who wrote the words to Leigh’s insanely catchy music, died on the last day of 2010. Here’s something extremely nice that my colleague Kera Bolonik wrote about her then.

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One Response to Mitch Leigh, Forever Swinging

  1. Bill Warriner says:

    It’s sad to add Mitch Leigh to the growing list. Ted Voss will know this better than I do, but I think Mitch Leigh also composed the music for the 1960s Polaroid pack film TV spots such as the one that featured pix of a young boy at summer camp, and his mother on a train reviewing them with a smile and a happy tear as she goes back home.

    Just for the record re “The Impossible Dream,” Wikipedia notes “The original lyricist of the musical was poet W. H. Auden, but his lyrics were discarded, some of them considered too overtly satiric and biting, attacking the bourgeois audience at times [that must have been an interesting manuscript]. Auden’s lyrics were replaced by those of Joe Darion.”

    Poor Joe only gets 2 sentences in Wikipedia: “Joe Darion (30 January 1917 – 6 June 2001) was an American musical theatre lyricist, most famous for Man of La Mancha. Darion was born in New York City and died in Lebanon, New Hampshire.” I’ve always been curious about his story—New Yorker turned country boy, not vice-versa.

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