Paul Francis Webster
Born(1907-12-20)December 20, 1907
New York City, United States
DiedMarch 18, 1984(1984-03-18) (aged 76)
Beverly Hills, California, United States

Paul Francis Webster (December 20, 1907 – March 18, 1984)[1] was an American lyricist who won three Academy Awards for Best Original Song, and was nominated sixteen times for the award.

Life and career

Webster was born in New York City, United States,[1] the son of Myron Lawrence Webster and Blanche Pauline Stonehill Webster. His family was Jewish. His father was born in Augustów, Poland.[2] He attended the Horace Mann School (Riverdale, Bronx, New York), graduating in 1926, and then went to Cornell University from 1927 to 1928 and New York University from 1928 to 1930, leaving without receiving a degree.[1] He worked on ships throughout Asia and then became a dance instructor at an Arthur Murray studio in New York City.[3][4]

By 1931, however, he turned his career direction to writing song lyrics.[1] His first professional lyric was "Masquerade" (music by John Jacob Loeb) which became a hit in 1932, performed by Paul Whiteman.[1]

In 1935, Twentieth Century Fox signed him to a contract to write lyrics for Shirley Temple's films, but shortly afterward he went back to freelance writing. His first hit was a collaboration in 1941 with Duke Ellington on the song "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)".[1]

After 1950, Webster worked mostly for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He won two Academy Awards in collaboration with Sammy Fain, in 1953 and 1955, and another with Johnny Mandel in 1965.[1] Altogether, sixteen of his songs received Academy Award nominations; among lyricists, he is third after Sammy Cahn with twenty-six and Johnny Mercer, who was nominated eighteen times, in number of nominations. In addition, a large number of his songs became major hits on the popular music charts.

Webster is the most successful songwriter of the 1950s on the UK Singles Chart. In 1967, he was asked to write the lyrics for the Spider-Man theme song[citation needed] for the television cartoon series of the same name. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972.[5] His papers are collected at Syracuse University Libraries.[6]

Webster's first born son, Guy Webster, was a prolific photographer of musicians and bands in the 1960s and 1970s.[7] His younger son, Mona Roger Webster, is a conceptual artist, a real estate investor and a longtime resident of Venice, CA.[citation needed]

Webster continued writing through 1983.[4] He died in 1984 in Beverly Hills, California, and is buried at Hillside Memorial Park in Culver City, California.

List of songs

Here is a partial list of songs for which he wrote the lyrics:[1][4][8][9]

Songs by Paul Francis Webster that won the Academy Award for Best Original Song

Nominated for the award

Songs winning Grammy Awards for best song of the year

Other songs with lyrics by Paul Francis Webster

Song compilation


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 2646/7. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  2. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-05-03. Retrieved 2017-07-09.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Potted biographies of musical theatre composers". Archived from the original on 14 August 2017. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  4. ^ a b c "Paul Francis Webster". Michael Feinstein's American Songbook. Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Initiative. Archived from the original on 2015-01-13. Retrieved 2015-01-12.
  5. ^ Paul Francis Webster at the Songwriters Hall of Fame
  6. ^ "Paul Francis Webster Papers". Syracuse University Libraries. Syracuse University. Archived from the original on 2013-10-30. Retrieved 2015-01-12.
  7. ^ Marinucci, Steve (February 7, 2019). "Guy Webster, Photographer of Album Covers by The Doors and Rolling Stones, Dies at 79". Variety. Retrieved February 8, 2019.
  8. ^ "Paul Francis Webster Song Catalog". Songwriters Hall of Fame. Songwriters Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 2015-01-12. Retrieved 2015-01-12.
  9. ^ "Songs Written by Paul Francis Webster". VF Entertainment. Retrieved 2015-01-12.

Other sources