'Merry Little Christmas' Songwriter Dies at 96

Hugh Martin composed the popular Christmas tune and others from the musical "Meet Me in St. Louis."

Songwriter Hugh Martin died Friday of natural causes at his home in Encinitas, CA. He was 96.

Along with songwriting partner Ralph Blane, Martin is best known for composing the score for the 1944 musical Meet Me In St. Louis, in which Judy Garland performed "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "The Trolley Song" and "The Boy Next Door."

Martin and Blane received best original song Academy Award nominations for "The Trolley Song" and "Pass the Peace Pipe" from 1947's Good News.

Martin, a native of Birmingham, AL, also wrote music for several other film and Broadway musicals, including the stage version of Meet Me In St. Louis, Best Foot Forward, Make a Wish and High Spirits.

He released an autobiography titled Hugh Martin: The Boy Next Door in 2010.

In a statement released on Martin's website, his niece Suzanne Hanners said, Our family was blessed to have Uncle Hugh in our lives. Not only was he an amazing and talented, musician and composer, but the most caring and thoughtful man you’ll ever meet. He was adored by family and friends and respected and loved by colleagues. He had such grace and class. He truly was 'the boy next door.' "

Martin is survived by his brother Gordon Martin, nephews Gordon Martin Jr. and Hugh Martin III, nieces Hanners and Lua Martin Wells and manager and longtime friend Elaine Harrison.