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Leslie Bricusse, the British songwriter who won Oscars for “Talk to the Animals” from Doctor Dolittle and for his work alongside Henry Mancini on the score to Victor, Victoria, has died. He was 90.
A member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Bricusse died Tuesday, his son Adam Bricusse reported on Facebook. No details of his death were immediately available.
Bricusse received eight other Oscar noms: for his work on the scores for Doctor Dolittle (1967), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969), Scrooge (1970) and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) — he wrote “The Candy Man” and “Pure Imagination” for the film — and for the songs “Thank You Very Much” from Scrooge, “Life in a Looking Glass” from That’s Life! (1986), “Somewhere in My Memory” from Home Alone (1990) and “When You’re Alone” from Hook (1991).
Working with John Barry, he penned the lyrics for the theme songs to the James Bond films Goldfinger (1964) and You Only Live Twice (1967). He also collaborated often with Mancini, John Williams, Sammy Davis Jr. and Anthony Newley.
Bricusse received a Grammy Award for song of the year in 1963 for “What Kind of Fool Am I,” the show-stopping tune he wrote with Newley for the West End/Broadway musical Stop the World — I Want to Get Off. (Newley also starred.)
One of his seven Grammy noms came in 1965 for another popular Newley song, “Who Can I Turn To.”
Bricusse also wrote the book for the production for Stop the World — I Want to Get Off for two of his five career Tony nominations and did the screenplay adaptations for films including Charley Moon (1956), Doctor Dolittle and Scrooge.
Survivors also include his wife, Evie. Earlier, he was married to British actress Yvonne Romain.
In a statement released Wednesday, Andrew Lloyd Webber called Bricusse “the most underestimated British songwriter of all time.”
He continued: “Madeleine [Webber’s wife] and I were once having dinner with Leslie, Evie, Michael Caine and his wife, Shakira. Michael said, ‘Why haven’t you and Leslie written a song together?’ Leslie immediately gave me a title: ‘The Perfect Song.’ I wrote a tune in the taxi home, Leslie wrote the lyrics the next morning, and it was then recorded by Michael Ball.
“I also remember at the Oscars three years ago that there were four of Leslie’s songs played in the first half-hour, either as walk-on music or on the commercials: ‘Feeling Good,’ ‘Who Can I Turn To,’ ‘Pure Imagination’ and ‘What Kind of Fool Am I.’ And never forget he wrote ‘My Old Man’s a Dustman.'”
Oct. 20, 8:15 a.m. Added Andrew Lloyd Webber’s statement.
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