|Born||in New York City, New York, USA|
Mini Bio (1)
Wrote first song words at age ten. At 16 had own orchestra, playing Catskills, Adirondacks, Poconos, also local New York jobs. At 18 started with Witmark & Sons Music Publishers, in Minstrel Department, "producing" shows for fraternal, religious and other organizations, supplying them with songs, skits, and jokes from Tams Library. Transferred to "Professional" departments of various music publishers. Duties included song plugging, rehearsing singers, writing special material, punch lines, gags and skits. His first published songs had lyrics by Spina and music by others. In early 1930s had minor hit songs "Let's Drift Away on Dreamer's Bay" and "We Were Only Walkin' in the Moonlight." A collaboration with Johnny Burke led to many successes in the middle 1930s, such as "Annie Doesn't Live Here Anymore" and "The Beat o' My Heart." Spina adapted the Mexican song "La Cucaracha" from a 6/8-meter song to 4/4. It became a worldwide hit with his treatment. Lyrics were by Johnny Burke. They used the name JUAN Y D'LORAH on the published song, "Juan" being Johnny Burke, and "d'lorah" being Harold spelled backwards. Burke and Spina composed songs for the top orchestra leaders of the 1930s. For Guy Lombardo they wrote "Annie Doesn't Live Here Anymore" (with Joe Young), for Paul Whiteman they wrote "The Beat o' My Heart," and for Fred Waring they wrote "It's Dark on Observatory Hill." Fats Waller recorded several of their songs, including "You're Not the Only Oyster in the Stew." At the Long Island film studios they wrote songs for several short subjects, which featured the talents of Bob Hope, Bert Lahr, Lillian Miles, and Ethel Waters. Burke and Spina went separate ways in 1936, when Burke teamed up with Arthur Johnston for the film Pennies from Heaven (1936). Spina went to Hollywood in 1937 and wrote many film songs with lyricist Walter Bullock. They wrote songs for film stars Jimmy Durante, Shirley Temple, Kenny Baker, George Murphy, Bill Robinson and Alice Faye. Later he wrote for MGM and Columbia. The best known of these songs are "I Love to Walk in The Rain" (from Just Around the Corner (1938), "I Still Love to Kiss You Goodnight" (from 52nd Street (1937)) and "Be Optimistic" (from Little Miss Broadway (1938)). 1940 Spina wrote the book and music for "Stovepipe Hat," a musical legend produced in New York in 1944. In London, Spina wrote directed and recorded 76 of his own compositions with his orchestra and vocalists for BBC radio. Spina returned to lyric writing in 1947 and had a hit with "Cumana" (written with Roc Hillman and Barclay Allan), popularized by Freddy Martin's Orchestra. In the 1950s he wrote, directed and recorded numerous LPs, which utilized the talents of Cesar Romero, Marie Wilson, George Jessel and the Merry Macs. At Capitol Spina wrote for Anthony Quinn's album "In My Own Way." On radio Spina created and produced the Jim Ameche Show, one of the first disk jockey shows with international syndication. On television Spina was involved with many song writer tributes. They were called "Down Tin Pan Alley" (Harold Spina, host) and "And Then I Wrote" (writer, director). In 1950 he had a huge success with the song "It's So Nice to Have a Man Around the House" (lyrics by Jack Elliott) and "Would I Love You, Love You, Love You" which sold over a million records for Patti Page.
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