Helen Deutsch (21 March 1906 - 15 March 1992) was an American screenwriter, journalist and songwriter.
Deutsch was born in New York City and graduated from Barnard College. She began her career by managing the Provincetown Players. She then wrote theatre reviews for the New York Herald-Tribune and the New York Times as well as working in the press department of the Theatre Guild.
Her first screenplay was for The Seventh Cross (1944). She adapted Enid Bagnold's novel, National Velvet into a screenplay which became a famous film (1944) starring Elizabeth Taylor. After writing a few films (Golden Earrings (1947), The Loves of Carmen (1948) and Shockproof (1949) ) for Paramount and Columbia Pictures, she spent the greater part of her career working for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and wrote the screenplays for such films as King Solomon's Mines (1950), Kim (1950), It's a Big Country (1951), Plymouth Adventure (1952), Lili (1953), Flame and the Flesh (1954), The Glass Slipper (1955), I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955), Forever, Darling (1956) and The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964). Her last screenplay was for 20th Century Fox's Valley of the Dolls (1967).
As part of her work for Lili, Deutsch wrote the lyric of the song Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo, which has been a popular bittersweet ballad for cabaret singers ever since. Branislau Kaper composed the music for it and the song was sung by Leslie Caron on the movie soundtrack.
In 1961, the Broadway version of the musical Carnival! was based on Lili and starred Anna Maria Alberghetti. Deutsch wrote the libretto. It was nominated for two Tony awards.
Shortly after Helen's Barnard graduation, she was asked to write something to recite on a radio show to be aired just two days later in honor of the late actress Jane Cowl. Overnight, Helen wrote "The White Magnolia Tree." She then forgot about the poem. In 1957, she was commissioned by NBC-TV to provide a poem to be recited by Helen Hayes for the 50th anniversary celebration of General Motors. She got out her old poem, and Helen Hayes recited it with such tenderness that within a week thousands of people had requested a copy of the poem. General Motors provided it in booklet form. Helen Hayes herself made a 45 rpm of the poem and sent out hundreds of copies. Today it is still searched for on the internet, some having success in finding it and others still looking.
In Australia, the Helen Hayes version was superseded when Gay Kayler (Gay Kahler) recorded her version of The White Magnolia Tree with a lush 32-piece orchestral backing. This became Gay's signature tune and remained in EMI and Readers Digest catalogues for more than 33 years.
Deutsch was nominated for the Academy Award for the screenplay of Lili, which also won her a Golden Globe Award.
She died in New York City of natural causes.
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Famous quotes containing the words helen deutsch, deutsch and/or helen:
“You must never throw away things that are worth good money.”
—Abraham Polonsky, U.S. screenwriter, Frank Butler, and Helen Deutsch. Mitchell Leisen. Lydia (Marlene Dietrich)
“The difference between Pound and Whitman is not between the democrat who in deep distress could look hopefully toward the future and the fascist madly in love with the past. It is that between the woodsman and the woodcarver. It is that between the mystic harking back to his vision and the artist whose first allegiance is to his craft, and so to the reality it presents.”
—Babette Deutsch (18951982)
“Babies are beautiful, wonderful, exciting, enchanting, extraordinary little creatureswho grow up into ordinary folk like us.”
—Doris Dyson. quoted in What Is a Baby?, By Richard and Helen Exley.