US Stamps

By Michael Baadke

Born July 12: Oscar Hammerstein II

July 12, 2015 03:30 AM

  • Oscar Hammerstein II, shown at right on the 33¢ stamp honoring him with songwriting partner Richard Rodgers.

Oscar Hammerstein II, one of America’s premier Broadway librettists, was born July 12, 1895, 120 years ago today.

Hammerstein is depicted on a 33¢ stamp (Scott 3348) from 1999 with composer Richard Rodgers, the collaborator with whom he enjoyed his greatest successes, but he also worked with Jerome Kern to create the legendary musical Show Boat, Rudolf Friml on the popular Rose Marie, and several others.

Hammerstein wrote the lyrics and book while his collaborators created the melodies. The partnership of Rodgers and Hammerstein began in 1943 and ushered in a new era of the Broadway musical with an innovative integration of music and plot. Their first effort was Oklahoma!, which was awarded a special Pulitzer Prize for drama and ran for a record 2,212 performances.

Later successes included Carousel in 1945, South Pacific in 1949, The King and I in 1951, and one of the world’s most famous musicals, The Sound of Music in 1959.