Stan Freeman, the theatre composer, performer and musical director who was co-lyricist and composer for Broadway's I Had a Ball and Lovely Ladies, Kind Gentlemen, died in his Hollywood home Jan. 13, according to friends.
He was 80. The cause of death was complications from emphysema.
Mr. Freeman was recently musical supervisor and arranger, as well as a song and sketch contributor for the Off-Broadway revue, Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know.
In a wide-ranging career, Mr. Freeman performed classic concerti with symphonies and recorded jazz with Charlie Parker, Benny Goodman and Ella Fitzgerald. He recorded more than 15 solo albums for Columbia and Epic, according to his Playbill bio. During World War II he played with the Glenn Miller band.
According to friend Jim Brochu, Mr. Freeman was recently helping to oversee a studio cast recording of his short-lived 1970 Broadway musical, Lovely Ladies, Kind Gentlemen, based on John Patrick's The Teahouse of the August Moon. For that show, he shared music and lyric credit with Franklin Underwood. The 1964 musical, I Had a Ball, starred Richard Kiley and Buddy Hackett, and was billed as "a Coney Island musical comedy." He shared song credit with Jack Lawrence. Mr. Freeman won an Emmy Award for writing songs for a "Carol Burnett Show" spoof called "High Hat," a parody of Astaire and Rogers' "Top Hat."
He was no stranger to acting on stage. His gravel-like, deep voice was perfect for his acclaimed solo show, At Wit's End, in which he portrayed troubled actor-pianist Oscar Levant (who had a deep, gravelly voice). For that show, he won the Los Angeles Drama-Logue Award as Best Actor.
At Rainbow & Stars in Manhattan, he was musical director for The Gershwin Revue and The Leonard Bernstein Revue. He was also Marlene Dietrich's musical director for more than a decade, and was considered a prime, soulful interpreter of the works of George Gershwin.
Brochu said Mr. Freeman did not become famous in one area because he tackled so many things. "He really did everything," said Brochu.
Mr. Freeman was born in Waterbury, CT, and studied at the Hartt School of Music. He soon went to New York City to find work in radio and the early days of television.
He is survived by two brothers.
— By Kenneth Jones