Victor Young


From the early 1930's until his demise in I956, violinist; composer; arranger; and bandleader Victor Young was an important part of the music scene.  In the late 1920's, Young turned from a concert music career to popular music and composing.  In the 1930's, his band was popular and very well recorded: In the Mid-1930's, Young moved to the West Coast where he composed music, and arranged, for Hollywood studios.  In the 1940's, his band, still active, usually backed vocalists on their recordings.

Victor's father, William Young, was a tenor with the Chicago Opera Co.  After Victor's mother died, William Young abandoned his two children, and the two of them, Victor and his sister Helen, left Chicago and went to Poland to be raised by their elderly grandparents; they traveled from Chicago to Warsaw alone (Victor was just 10 years old).  William Young re-married and had another family.  He died in 1932 from Cancer, and is buried in a Brooklyn, NY cemetery.

Victor's grandfather, a tailor, had sufficient savings to start Victor at the Warsaw Conservatory, where Victor studied violin under Isador Lotto, receiving the 'Diploma of Merit.'  After more study with private tutors, he debuted with the Warsaw Philharmonic, following which he toured Europe with different concert orchestras.  His first public appearance with the Warsaw Philharmonic went so well that a wealthy music lover gave him a 1730 Guarnerius, the instrument which Victor Young continued to play as an adult in America.

The man who presented him with the violin was a banker, Josef Goldfeder.  Victor kept the violin on display on an entry hall table in his Beverly Hills home.  The day after Victor Young died, the violin, which had been left to a very close relative, Henry Hill, a professional musician (violinist) mysteriously disappeared.  (A close family friend had walked out of the house with it.)

Victor and his sister Helen attended the Warsaw Conservatory of Music at the same time.  Helen went on to become a fine pianist.  She was his accompanist when he concertized all over Europe and the United States.  Helen went on to marry violinist Henry Hill, whom she and Victor had met in Europe.

In 1914, at the outbreak of WW1, he returned to Chicago where he had his American debut.  There followed a succession of jobs, and during the early part of the 1920's, he toured as a concert violinist. He worked in Los Angeles as a concert-master in a motion picture theater orchestra. He then did the same in Chicago's Central Park Theater. But around this time, he had decided to leave the classics and make his career in popular song.

Later in the 1920's, he worked with the Ted Fio Rito Orchestra as violinist and arranger.  Still in Chicago, Young was the orchestra leader at the famed Chicago Theater and at the State and Lake Theater and also had the dance orchestra at the Edgewater Beach Hotel.  His radio career also started in Chicago in the late 1920's, but in 1931 he moved to New York City where he continued working in the radio studios.

His songwriting career started in 1928 when he wrote:

1928 "Sweet Sue", lyric by Will Harris

1929 "Can't You Understand?", lyric by Jack Osterman

During the 1930's, Young did a great deal of radio work, conducting for many stars including Smith Bellew, Al Jolson, and Don Ameche.  In 1935, he returned to Los Angeles and formed his own orchestra; a successful venture.  The orchestra was heard on radio stations, as well as at the famous Grauman's Chinese Theater.  Young then became associated Paramount Pictures Studios, as chief composer and arranger and began his major career in the motion picture industry.

His earliest, and most important, lyricist collaborator in Hollywood was Ned Washington, with whom he wrote such songs as:

1933 "Sweet Madness", from film 'Murder at the Vanities', a George White 'Vanities' film.

1933 "A Ghost of a Chance".

1933 "A Hundred Years From Today", from show "Blackbirds of 1933/34"

Other Victor Young songs with Washington lyrics are:

"Can't We Talk It Over"

        "Stella By Starlight"

        "My Foolish Heart"

From that humble start, Victor went on to score over 300 motion pictures, among which are:

1937 Wells Fargo

Swing High, Swing Low

1938 Breaking The Ice

1939 Golden Boy

         Man of Conquest

1940 Arizona

1941 I Wanted Wings

        Hold Back the Dawn

1942 Flying Tigers

         Silver Queen

        The Glass Key

1943 For Whom The Bell Tolls

1944 The Uninvited

1949 Sampson and Delilah

1950 Rio Grande

1952 Scaramouche

         The Greatest Show On Earth

1953 Shane

1954 Three Coins In The Fountain

Some others were:

      'Golding Earrings,  starring Marlene Dietrich'

'The Big Clock'

'Love Letters'

'The Greatest Show on Earth'


Among the hit songs he wrote for various films are:

(All below to lyrics by Ned Washington):

For film 'All Women Have Secrets'

         "I Live Again Because I'm In Love Again"

for film 'I Wanted Wings'

"Born to Love"

1946   for film 'The Uninvited',

         "Stella by Starlight"

1950 For film, 'My Foolish Heart'

     "My Foolish Heart"

         for film, 'Lucky Stiff'


         for film 'The Wild Blue Yonder'

         "The Heavy Bomber Song"

         For film, 'The Greatest Show on Earth'

         "The Greatest Show on Earth", lyric New Washington.

         "Be a Jumping Jack", lyric New Washington.

1952 "When I Fall In Love"

And, among the songs he wrote to lyrics by still others:

     "Beautiful Love", lyric Egbert Van Alstyne.

     "Street Of Dreams", lyric Sam M. Lewis.

     "When I Fall In Love", lyric Edward Heyman.

     "Love Letters", Lyric Edward Heyman.

     "Written In The Wind", Lyric Sammy Cahn

For Film, 'Northwest Mounted Police', the song,

     "Does the Moon Shine Through the Tall Trees?", the

           Lyric was by Frank Loesser.

     For film, 'The Searching Wind', the title song,

         "The Searching Wind", lyric by Edward Heyman

     For film, 'The Fabulous Senorita',

         "You've Changed", lyric by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans.

     For film, 'Samson and Delilah', the title song,

         "Samson and Delilah"

     For film, Golden Earring's', the title song,

     "Golden Earring's", Young collaborated on this tune with

       the song-writing team of Jay Livingston and Ray Evans.

1956 For film, 'Around the World in Eighty Days', the title song,

         "Around the World in Eighty Days", lyric Ned Washington.

This was the last picture released with Victor's name in the credits.

All told, Young had been nominated for an Academy Award 22 times, and won just this one time, posthumously.  His award for this film was accepted by Elizabeth Taylor.

Victor Young suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on November 9th, at his home in Desert Hot Springs, CA, and died November 10th, 1956. He was just 56 years old.  Ferde Grofe was called upon to complete the score on which Victor had been working, a musical comedy based on the life of Mark Twain.

After his death, Young's wife presented all Victor's personal possessions and musical scores to Brandeis University, in Waltham, Massachussettes.  Some years later, Brandeis gave half of the collection to the Boston Public Library.  The rest of the collection, including his Oscar, is still in boxes in the basement of the University.

Composer Filmography


"Shane" (1966) (TV Series) (theme) 

 China Gate (1957) 

 Omar Khayyam (1957) 

 Buster Keaton Story, The (1957) 

 Forty Guns (1957) (songs) (uncredited) 

 Run of the Arrow (1957) 

 Vagabond King, The (1956) 

 Around the World in 80 Days (1956) 

 Conqueror, The (1956) 

 Brave One, The (1956) 

 Maverick Queen, The (1956) 

 Proud and Profane, The (1956) 

 Written on the Wind (1956) 

 Strategic Air Command (1955) 

 Tall Men, The (1955) 

 Son of Sinbad (1955) 

 Left Hand of God, The (1955) 

 Man Alone, A (1955) 

 Timberjack (1955) (song "Timberjack") 

 Jubilee Trail (1954) 

 Johnny Guitar (1954) 

 Three Coins in the Fountain (1954) 

 About Mrs. Leslie (1954) 

 Country Girl, The (1954) 

 Drum Beat (1954/I) 

 Geraldine (1954) (title song) (additional song) 

 Stars Are Singing, The (1953) 

 Sun Shines Bright, The (1953) 

 Shane (1953) 

 Star, The (1953/I) 

 Fair Wind to Java (1953) 

 Flight Nurse (1953) 

 Forever Female (1953) 

 Little Boy Lost (1953) 

 Perilous Journey, A (1953) 

 Trouble in the Glen (1953) 

 Woman They Almost Lynched, The (1953) 

 Scaramouche (1952) 

 Something to Live for (1952) 

 Quiet Man, The (1952) 

 Greatest Show on Earth, The (1952) 

 Anything Can Happen (1952) 

 Blackbeard the Pirate (1952) 

 One Minute to Zero (1952) 

 Story of Will Rogers, The (1952) 

 Thunderbirds (1952) 

 Lemon Drop Kid, The (1951) 

 My Favorite Spy (1951) 

 Place in the Sun, A (1951) (uncredited) 

 Bullfighter and the Lady (1951) 

 Payment on Demand (1951) 

 Appointment with Danger (1951) 

 Belle le grand (1951) 

 Honeychile (1951) 

 Millionaire for Christy, A (1951) 

 Wild Blue Yonder, The (1951) 

 Our Very Own (1950) 

 Bright Leaf (1950) 

 Rio Grande (1950) 

 Gun Crazy (1950) 

 Arizona Cowboy (1950) (uncredited) 

 Fireball, The (1950) 

 Paid in Full (1950) 

 September Affair (1950) 

 Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) 

 Samson and Delilah (1949) 

 Song of Surrender (1949) 

 Chicago Deadline (1949) 

 Streets of Laredo (1949) 

 Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, A (1949) 

 File on Thelma Jordon, The (1949) 

 My Foolish Heart (1949) 

 Big Clock, The (1948) 

 Paleface, The (1948) 

 Miss Tatlock's Millions (1948) 

 Dream Girl (1948) 

 Emperor Waltz, The (1948) 

 State of the Union (1948) 

 I Walk Alone (1948) 

 Accused, The (1948) 

 Beyond Glory (1948) 

 Night Has a Thousand Eyes (1948) 

 So Evil My Love (1948) 

 Unconquered (1947) 

 Calcutta (1947) 

 Golden Earrings (1947) 

 Suddenly, It's Spring (1947) 

 Imperfect Lady, The (1947) 

 Trouble with Women, The (1947) 

 Two Years Before the Mast (1946) 

 Blue Dahlia, The (1946) (uncredited) 

 Kitty (1946) 

 To Each His Own (1946) 

 California (1946) 

 Our Hearts Were Growing Up (1946) 

 Searching Wind, The (1946) 

 Masquerade in Mexico (1945) 

 Love Letters (1945) 

 You Came Along (1945) 

 Target Tokyo (1945) 

 Great John L., The (1945) 

 Hold That Blonde (1945) 

 Medal for Benny, A (1945) 

 Practically Yours (1944) 

 Ministry of Fear (1944) 

 Frenchman's Creek (1944) 

 Story of Dr. Wassell, The (1944) 

 And Now Tomorrow (1944) 

 And the Angels Sing (1944) 

 Great Moment, The (1944) 

 Uninvited, The (1944) 

 Young and Willing (1943) 

 Crystal Ball, The (1943) 

 For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943) 

 China (1943) 

 No Time for Love (1943) 

 Buckskin Frontier (1943) 

 Hostages (1943) 

 Racket Man, The (1943) (uncredited) 

 True to Life (1943) 

 Great Man's Lady, The (1942) 

 Forest Rangers, The (1942) 

 Flying Tigers (1942) 

 Take a Letter, Darling (1942) 

 Reap the Wild Wind (1942) 

 Beyond the Blue Horizon (1942) 

 Glass Key, The (1942) 

 Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch (1942) 

 Palm Beach Story, The (1942) 

 Remarkable Andrew, The (1942) 

 Silver Queen (1942) 

 Hold Back the Dawn (1941) 

 Caught in the Draft (1941) 

 I Wanted Wings (1941) 

 Aloma of the South Seas (1941) 

 Buy Me That Town (1941) 

 Mad Doctor, The (1941) 

 Reaching for the Sun (1941) 

 Skylark (1941) 

 Virginia (1941) 

 Arizona (1940) 

 Untamed (1940) 

 North West Mounted Police (1940) 

 Knights of the Range (1940) 

 Arise, My Love (1940) 

 Three Faces West (1940) 

 Buck Benny Rides Again (1940) 

 Dark Command (1940) 

 Raffles (1940) 

 Dancing on a Dime (1940) 

 I Want a Divorce (1940) 

 Moon Over Burma (1940) 

 Three Men from Texas (1940) 

 Way of All Flesh, The (1940) 

 Young Buffalo Bill (1940) (uncredited) 

 Light That Failed, The (1939) 

 Gulliver's Travels (1939) (atmospheric music) 

 Golden Boy (1939) 

 Heritage of the Desert (1939) 

 Man of Conquest (1939) 

 $1000 a Touchdown (1939) (incidental music) 

 All Women Have Secrets (1939) 

 Everything's on Ice (1939) (song "Birth of a Snowbird") (uncredited) 

 Fisherman's Wharf (1939) 

 Gracie Allen Murder Case, The (1939) 

 Law of the Pampas (1939) 

 Llano Kid, The (1939) 

 Night of Nights, The (1939) 

 Our Neighbors - The Carters (1939) 

 Range War (1939) 

 Television Spy (1939) 

 Way Down South (1939) 

 Gladiator, The (1938) 

 Army Girl (1938) 

 Bulldog Drummond's Peril (1938) (uncredited) 

 Partners of the Plains (1938) (uncredited) 

 Breaking the Ice (1938) 

 Flirting with Fate (1938) 

 Wells Fargo (1937) 

 Night of Mystery (1937) (uncredited) 

 Waikiki Wedding (1937) 

 Swing High, Swing Low (1937) 

 Maid of Salem (1937) 

 Champagne Waltz (1937) 

 Bulldog Drummond Comes Back (1937) (uncredited) 

 Doctor's Diary, A (1937) 

 Double or Nothing (1937) (uncredited) 

 Ebb Tide (1937) 

 Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) 

 Vogues (1937) 

 Palm Springs (1936) (incidental music) 

 Heart of the West (1936) 

 Fatal Lady (1936) (uncredited) 

 Folies-Bergère (1935/I) (additional songs)


Miscellaneous Crew Filmography


Man Alone, A (1955) (musical director) 

 Knock on Wood (1954) (musical director) 

 Stars Are Singing, The (1953) (musical director) 

 Story of Will Rogers, The (1952) (musical director) 

 Riding High (1950) (musical director) 

 Samson and Delilah (1949) (songs) 

 Beyond Glory (1948) (musical director) 

 Blue Dahlia, The (1946) (musical director) 

 Out of This World (1945) (musical director) 

 Outlaw, The (1943) (musical director) 

 Riding High (1943) (musical director) 

 Road to Morocco (1942) (musical director) 

 Priorities on Parade (1942) (musical director) 

 True to the Army (1942) (musical director) 

 Road to Zanzibar (1941) (musical director) 

 Kiss the Boys Goodbye (1941) (musical director) 

 Those Were the Days (1940) (musical director) 

 Road to Singapore (1940) (musical director) 

 Rhythm on the River (1940) (musical director) 

 Escape to Paradise (1939) (musical director) 

 Man About Town (1939) (musical director) 

 Gladiator, The (1938) (musical director) 

 Peck's Bad Boy with the Circus (1938) (musical director) 

 Swing High, Swing Low (1937) (music arranger) 

 Thrill of a Lifetime (1937) (music arranger) 

 Anything Goes (1936) (musical director) 

 Frankie and Johnny (1936) (musical director)


Actor Filmography


Of Men and Music (1951)  .... Himself

Vogues (1937)  .... Himself (bandleader)



 Academy Award Nominations 




Best Music (Original Score) Nomination




Best Music (Original Score) Nomination




Best Music (Scoring) Nomination




Best Music (Original Score) Nomination




Best Music (Original Score) Nomination




Best Music (Original Score) Nomination




Best Music (Score) Nomination




Best Music (Original Score) Nomination




Best Music (Original Score) Nomination




Best Music (Original Score) Nomination




Best Music (Scoring of a Dramatic Picture) Nomination




Best Music (Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture) Nomination




Best Music (Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture) Nomination




Best Music (Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture) Nomination




Best Music (Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture) Nomination




Best Music (Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture) Nomination




Best Music (Song) Nomination (shared with Edward Heyman)
For the song "Love Letters"




Best Music (Scoring of a Musical Picture) Nomination




Best Music (Song) Nomination (shared with Ned Washington)
For the song "My Foolish Heart"




Best Music (Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture) Nomination




Best Music (Song) Nomination (shared with Sammy Cahn)
For the song "Written on the Wind"



Best Music (Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture) Oscar




Second Biography of Victor Young

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