Leslie Bricusse
Birth nameLeslie Charles Bricusse
Born(1931-01-29)29 January 1931
Pinner, Middlesex, England
Died19 October 2021(2021-10-19) (aged 90)
Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France
Years active1952–2021
(m. 1958)

Leslie Bricusse OBE (/ˈbrɪkəs/;[1] 29 January 1931 – 19 October 2021) was a British composer, lyricist, and playwright who worked on theatre musicals and wrote theme music for films. He was best known for writing the music and lyrics for the films Doctor Dolittle, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Scrooge, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Tom and Jerry: The Movie, the songs "Goldfinger", "You Only Live Twice", "Can You Read My Mind (Love Theme)" (with John Williams) from Superman, and "Le Jazz Hot!" with Henry Mancini from Victor/Victoria.

Early life and education

Born in Pinner, Middlesex (now in the London Borough of Harrow),[2][3] Bricusse was educated at University College School in London and then at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he studied Modern and Medieval Languages.[4] While at Cambridge, he was Secretary of Footlights between 1952 and 1953 and Footlights President during the following year.[5] It was during his college drama career that he began working for Beatrice Lillie.[6]


In the 1960s and 1970s, Bricusse enjoyed a fruitful partnership with Anthony Newley. They wrote the musical Stop the World – I Want to Get Off (1961), which was the basis of a 1966 film version and featured the Grammy winning Song of the YearWhat Kind of Fool Am I?” Also in collaboration with Newley, Bricusse wrote the show The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd (1965) and music for the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), based on the children's book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. For the latter, they received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song Score. When he collaborated with Newley, the two men referred to themselves as the team of "Brickman and Newburg", with "Newburg" concentrating mainly on the music and "Brickman" on the lyrics. Ian Fraser often did their arrangements.[citation needed]

Working solely as a lyricist, he collaborated with composer Cyril Ornadel on Pickwick (1963), based on Charles Dickens' The Pickwick Papers, a successful vehicle for Harry Secombe. His later collaborators included Henry Mancini (Victor/Victoria in 1982 and Tom and Jerry: The Movie in 1992) and John Williams (Home Alone in 1990 and Hook in 1991).

As composer and lyricist he scored the film Doctor Dolittle (1967), which flopped at the box-office but received an Academy Award for Best Original Song ("Talk to the Animals"). He also scored the film Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969).[7]

Sammy Davis Jr. had hits with two songs by Bricusse, "What Kind of Fool Am I?" (from Stop the World - I Want to Get Off) and "The Candy Man" (from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory) which became a No. 1 hit.[8]

Other recording artists who recorded successful versions of his songs include Nina Simone ("Feeling Good"), Matt Monro and Frank Sinatra ("My Kind of Girl"), Shirley Bassey ("Goldfinger"), Harry Secombe ("If I Ruled the World"), Nancy Sinatra ("You Only Live Twice"), The Turtles ("A Guide for the Married Man"), Maureen McGovern ("Can You Read My Mind"), and Diana Krall ("When I Look in Your Eyes").[9]

Bricusse partnered with George Tipton to write the opening theme of the American television sitcom It's a Living.[10]

Pure Imagination: The World of Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse, devised and directed by Bruce Kimmel, opened at the Pacific Resident Theatre in Venice, California, on 7 December 2013. In 2015, it went to the St James Theatre, London.[11]

On 29 October 2001, he was awarded the OBE for services to the film industry and the theatre from Queen Elizabeth II at a Buckingham Palace investiture ceremony.[12]

In 2015, he released a memoir entitled Pure Imagination: A Sorta-Biography, with a foreword by Elton John.[13]

Personal life

Bricusse lived in California and in London, in an apartment overlooking the River Thames. He was married to Yvonne "Evie" Romain, an actor.[14] They had a son, Adam.[14]


Bricusse died in his sleep in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France, on 19 October 2021, at the age of 90.[15][16]










  1. ^ "Say How: B". National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled. Retrieved 20 October 2021.
  2. ^ "Interview – triple threat writer Leslie Bricusse". Musicaltheatrereview.com.
  3. ^ Smurthwaite, Nick (26 May 2011). "Leslie Bricusse: changing face of success | Features". Thestage.co.uk.
  4. ^ "Oscar-winning Caian Leslie Bricusse (1931-2021) | Gonville & Caius". www.cai.cam.ac.uk.
  5. ^ "Official site". LeslieBricusse.com. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  6. ^ Genzlinger, Neil (20 October 2021). "Leslie Bricusse, Prolific Songwriter for Stage and Screen, Dies at 90". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 24 October 2021.
  7. ^ "Doctor Dolittle (1967) - IMDb" – via www.imdb.com.
  8. ^ "Sammy Davis, Jr". The Billboard Book of Number One Hits. Billboard. 1988. Retrieved 22 September 2014 – via Superseventies.com.
  9. ^ "Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka". Kennedy-center.org. Archived from the original on 22 October 2014. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  10. ^ "DEF: George Tipton and Leslie Bricusse "Theme from It's a Living"". Tunesmate.com. 17 February 2012.
  11. ^ Shenton, Mark (24 September 2015). "Mark Shenton's theatre picks: September 24". Thestage.co.uk. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  12. ^ "Leslie Bricusse, songwriter who wrote lyrics for the Bond films and was best known for Doctor Dolittle and Willy Wonka – obituary". Msn.com.
  13. ^ "Goldfinger and Pure Imagination songwriter Leslie Bricusse dead at 90". Torontosun.com. Retrieved 24 October 2021.
  14. ^ a b Woodward, Clair."Leslie Bricusse and Yvonne Romain: Golden couple’s Hollywood greats" The Daily Express, 12 November 2017
  15. ^ "Leslie Bricusse: 'Lyrical genius' of film dies aged 90". BBC News. BBC. 20 October 2021.
  16. ^ Burlingame, Jon (19 October 2021). "Leslie Bricusse, 'Willy Wonka,' 'Goldfinger' Songwriter, Dies at 90". Variety.
  17. ^ "Stage productions". Songwritershalloffame.org. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  18. ^ a b "Leslie Bricusse". IBDb.com. Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  19. ^ "Film Scores". Songwritershalloffame.org. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  20. ^ "Stage listing". LeslieBricusse.com. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  21. ^ "Wildhorn and Bricusse's 'CYRANO' Debuts at Tokyo's Nissay Theatre, Osaka Run, Tour to Follow". Uk.broadwayworld.com. 18 May 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  22. ^ Jones, Kenneth (29 July 2009). "A New 'Candy Man': Tony Nominee Babatundé Will Be Sammy in New Musical". Playbill.com. Archived from the original on 16 July 2012.
  23. ^ "Song catalog". Songwritershalloffame.org. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  24. ^ a b c "Awards and nominations list". Songwritershalloffame.org. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  25. ^ "Leslie Bricusse: Awards and Nominations". IMDb.com. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  26. ^ "Golden Raspberry Awards: 1986". Lebeauleblog.com. 12 November 2015.