AKA Randall Stuart Newman
Birthplace: New Orleans, LA
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Songwriter, Singer/Songwriter
Party Affiliation: Democratic
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: I Love L.A., Short People
Randy Newman was a professional songwriter by the age of 17, and released his first album at 18. He briefly performed with a mid-1960s band called The Tikis, which, after he left, changed its name to Harper's Bizarre and had a hit covering Paul Simon's "Feelin' Groovy". As a pop songwriter, Newman's biggest hit was Three Dog Night's warning "Mama Told Me Not to Come", and he had other songs recorded by Judy Collins, Peggy Lee, Gene Pitney, and Dusty Springfield. His horny "You Can Leave Your Hat On" was covered in Top 40 hits by Joe Cocker and Tom Jones. The Muppets sang Newman's "Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear" on TV, and he won an Oscar for the song "If I Didn't Have You" from the movie Monsters, Inc.
In his 1972 ditty "Sail Away", Newman's lyrics are a sarcastic sales pitch, trying to lure slaves to America, and his "Burn On" is an ode to the polluted Cuyahoga River, which caught fire in 1969. Savage satire was always Newman's forté, but most Americans had never heard of Newman before he sang his own 1978 single "Short People", which was controversial for its kidding but cruel-sounding lyrics ("They got little baby legs that stand so low / you got to pick 'em up just to say hello"). He followed that with "It's Money That I Love" and the vicious "I Want You to Hurt Like I Do". Noticing that his adopted home town of Los Angeles had no widely known anthem, Newman wrote the delightfully ambivalent "I Love L.A." ("Look at that mountain / Look at those trees / Look at that bum over there, man / He's down on his knees").
Newman is even more successful as a composer of film scores, including the music for A Bug's Life, Monsters, Inc., Pleasantville, Ragtime, Seabiscuit, Toy Story, and the now-ubiquitous background music for sports heroics, from the Robert Redford baseball movie The Natural, which won Newman a Grammy. His earliest scoring work was background music for a single episode of TV's The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, and he later worked briefly on Lost in Space and Peyton Place. His first film score was the no smoking comedy Cold Turkey.
With Steve Martin and Lorne Michaels, Newman co-wrote the script for the western comedy Three Amigos, and penned the movie's hilarious songs. He won an Emmy for the songs in an episode of the short-lived TV police musical Cop Rock. He also wrote the comic stage play and concept album Randy Newman's Faust, the story of a grunge rocker's deal with the devil. On the album, Newman sang the role of Satan, with James Taylor as God,
Don Henley as Henry Faust, and Elton John as an angel.
Newman comes from a renowned musical family. His uncle, Lionel Newman (1916-1989), scored the music for Love Me Tender and North to Alaska, conducted the music for Alien and Breaking Away, and won an Oscar for Hello Dolly. Another uncle, Emil Newman (1911-1984), composed the music for Island in the Sky, Riot in Juvenile Prison, and Unwed Mother.
His most famous uncle, though, was Alfred Newman (1901-1970), who won nine Oscars for his movie music. He composed the soundtrack for All About Eve, The Grapes of Wrath, How Green Was My Valley, the 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame (starring Charles Laughton), Twelve O'Clock High, and Wuthering Heights. He also wrote perhaps the most famous movie music of all time, the "20th Century Fox Fanfare" -- the stirring drum-and-bugle call that plays over the logo as that studio's films begin.
Deeper in Newman's extended family, his nephew Thomas Newman wrote the score for American Beauty, Finding Nemo, and The Shawshank Redemption, among many other film credits. A cousin, David Newman, wrote the music for Galaxy Quest, Heathers, and Ice Age. Another cousin, Joey Newman, wrote music for TV's Once and Again and Providence. A more distant cousin is actor Gary Frank, best known as Kristy McNichol's older brother on TV's Family in the late 1970s.
Newman's family was Jewish by heredity, but so far removed from orthodoxy that he says he was in his early teens before even asking his father, "What's a Jew?"
Father: Irving Newman (physician, d. 1990)
Mother: Adele (d. 1988)
Brother: Alan Newman (physician)
Wife: Roswitha Schmale (m. 1967, div., three sons)
Son: Amos Newman (b. 1968)
Son: Erik Newman (b. 1970)
Son: John Newman (b. 1978)
Wife: Gretchen Newman (m. 1990, one son, one daughter)
Son: Patrick Newman (b. 1992)
Daughter: Alice Newman (b. 1993)
High School: University High School, Los Angeles, CA
University: Music, University of California at Los Angeles (no diploma)
Al Franken for Senate
John Kerry for President
Obama for America $2,300 (14-Jan-2008)
Emmy 1991 Outstanding Achievement in Music and Lyrics, for Cop Rock
Emmy 2004 Outstanding Main Title Theme Music, for Monk
Emmy 2010 Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics, for Monk
Songwriters Hall of Fame
Risk Factors: Former Smoker, Amphetamines
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him?) (2010) · Himself
The Princess and the Frog (25-Nov-2009) · Cousin Randy [VOICE]
The Boys: The Sherman Brothers' Story (24-Apr-2009) · Himself
ˇThree Amigos! (12-Dec-1986) [VOICE]
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