Adolph Green, in his long-standing collaboration with Betty Comden, was one of the legendary musical theater lyricists, writing for such classic Broadway musicals as On the Town, Peter Pan, The Bandwagon, and The Will Rogers Follies, as well as the MGM movie musicals Singin' in the Rain and The Bandwagon.
Their partnership was the longest-lived in Broadway history, spanning six decades. Early in his career, Green wrote songs and throughout, occasionally appeared on-stage or in films, but his legacy as a writer of lyrics and screenplays is his great claim to fame. He and Comden originally planned to become actors and met in 1938 in New York. They and other aspiring performers formed a comedy and music troupe, the Revuers, which was soon a popular Greenwich Village attraction. The guest artists included several soon-to-be stars such as Judy Holliday and Leonard Bernstein. In 1944, they wrote their first musical, On the Town, based on Bernstein and choreographer Jerome Robbins' ballet Fancy Free, and premiered it that December. This early success, which attracted Hollywood's attention, was followed by many other triumphs in both films and stage musicals, including Billion Dollar Baby in 1945, Good News in 1947, The Barkleys of Broadway in 1949 (the same year On the Town was made into a film), Two on the Aisle in 1951, the screenplay for Singin' in the Rain in 1952, The Bandwagon in 1953, and Bells Are Ringing in 1956. In 1953, they won their first Tony Award, for Wonderful Town, another collaboration with Bernstein. While they are best known for cheerful, vibrant works, they also pointed out the funny aspects of the dark side of entertainment, as in their 1955 Always Fair Weather. By 1958, they were popular enough to create a show much like their early Revuers material, A Party With Betty Comden and Adolph Green. 1958 brought their first nonmusical script, Auntie Mame. For a time thereafter, they produced relatively minor works, but returned in 1978 with On the Twentieth Century; in 1982 with their one major failure, A Doll's Life; and again in 1991 with The Will Rogers Follies. In the same year, the pair received the Writer's Guild Screen Laurel Award.