Lyricist, Dramatst. Born Oscar Greeley Clendenning Hammerstein in New York City, New York, he was the son of a theatre manager and producer. His father, however, encouraged him to study law, and he attended Columbia University with that goal. After his father's death in 1914, he gravitated back into theatrical circles, joining the Columbia University Players, and making his stage debut as a performer in a 1915 Varsity review. After leaving school, he worked as a stage manager for his uncle, learning the backstage world of theatre. In 1919, he wrote his first play, 'The Light,' which made no impact at all. In collaboration Otto Harbach, however, the play 'Wildfire,' produced in 1923, achieved success, even more so with 1924's 'Rose Marie.' In 1927, in collaboration with Jerome Kern, his breakout work, 'Show Boat' made his reputation. He continued to collaborate with Kern on several musicals including 'Sweet Adeline' (1929), 'Music in the Air' (1932), 'Three Sisters' (1934), and 'Very Warm for May' (1939). He then spent almost a decade working under contract for Hollywood studios. In 1941, he won an Academy Award for Best Original Song, for 'The Last Time I Saw Paris.' Another followed in 1946, for the song 'It Might as Well Be Spring.' In 1943, back on Broadway, he wrote the lyrics and book for 'Carmen Jones,' which was later adapted into a feature film. He then entered his most successful partnership, with Richard Rodgers, and the pair staged 'Oklahoma,' which opened on Broadway on March 31, 1943 to much acclaim. They followed their success with such productions as 'Carousel' (1945), 'Allegro' (1947), 'South Pacific' (1949), 'The King and I '(1951), 'Pipe Dream' (1955), 'Flower Drum Song' (1958), and 'The Sound of Music' (1959). 'South Pacific,' 'The King and I,' and 'The Sound of Music' all won Tony awards for best musical, and all would be adapted as feature films. Then, at the height of his fame, he succumbed to stomach cancer at age 65. A week later, on September 1, 1960, the lights were extinguished on Broadway in his memory.
Bio by: Iola