Gerald Sheldon Herman (July 10, 1931 – December 26, 2019) was an American composer and lyricist, known for his work in Broadway musical theater. He composed the scores for the hit Broadway musicals Hello, Dolly!, Mame, and La Cage aux Folles. He was nominated for the Tony Award five times, and won twice, for Hello, Dolly! and La Cage aux Folles.
In 2009, Herman received the Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre. He was a recipient of the 2010 Kennedy Center Honors.
Herman was openly gay and at the time of his death was partnered with Terry Marler, a real estate broker.
Herman was diagnosed HIV-positive in 1985. As noted in the “Words and Music” PBS documentary, “He is one of the fortunate ones who survived to see experimental drug therapies take hold and was still, as one of his lyrics proclaims, ‘alive and well and thriving’ over quarter of a century later.”
Herman died of pulmonary complications at a hospital in Miami on December 26, 2019, at age 88.
Alta Sherral Willis (November 10, 1947 – December 24, 2019), known as Allee Willis, was an American songwriter, artist and art director. Willis co-wrote hit songs including “September” and “Boogie Wonderland” by Earth, Wind & Fire. She was nominated for an Emmy Award for “I’ll Be There For You”, which was used as the theme song for the sitcom Friends, and won two Grammy Awards for Beverly Hills Cop and The Color Purple, the latter of which was also nominated for a Tony Award. Her compositions sold over 60 million records and she was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018. As a multimedia artist, she was one half of Bubbles & Cheesecake.
Willis also wrote songs for artists including Debby Boone, Rita Coolidge, Crystal Gayle, Sister Sledge, Jennifer Holliday, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Cyndi Lauper, Crystal Waters, and Taylor Dayne. Songs she co-composed for other artists that became hits include “Lead Me On” by Maxine Nightingale, “Neutron Dance” by the Pointer Sisters, “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” by Pet Shop Boys featuring Dusty Springfield, and “I’ll Be There for You” by The Rembrandts. “I’ll Be There for You” was used as the theme song of the sitcom Friends and went on to become one of the biggest television theme songs of all time. Willis jokingly referred to this song as “the whitest song I ever wrote”. In 1995 Willis was Emmy-nominated for “I’ll Be There for You”.
Willis died in Los Angeles on December 24, 2019, at the age of 72. The cause of death was cardiac arrest.
Friends theme song
Earth, Wind & Fire – September (Official Music Video)