Blog About the Author: Leslie Bricusse
Nov 7, 2023

About the Author: Leslie Bricusse

Leslie Bricusse (1931-2021) was a writer/ composer/lyricist who contributed to many musical films and plays during his long, awardwinning career.

He was born in London and educated at University College School and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. At Cambridge, he was president of both the University Footlights Club and Musical Comedy Club. There, he co-authored, directed, and performed in his first two musical shows, Out of the Blue and Lady at the Wheel, both of which transferred to London’s West End. He also found time to acquire a Master of Arts degree.

The late, great Beatrice Lillie plucked Bricusse out of the Footlights Revue at the Phoenix Theatre in London and made him her leading man in An Evening with Beatrice Lillie at the Globe Theatre. He spent the first year of his professional life writing another musical, The Boy on the Corner, as well as the screenplay and score of his first motion picture, Charley Moon, for which he won his first Ivor Novello Award. During that same year, he decided to drop the possibilities of directing and performing and to concentrate on a career as a full-time writer/composer/lyricist.

Bricusse’s subsequent stage musicals include Stop the World – I Want to Get Off, The Roar of the Greasepaint, Pickwick, Harvey, The Good Old Bad Old Days, One Shining Moment, Sherlock Holmes – The Musical, Victor/Victoria, Doctor Dolittle, and Jekyll & Hyde. He has written songs and/or screenplays for such films as Doctor Dolittle; Scrooge; Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory; Goodbye, Mr. Chips; Victor/Victoria; Sunday Lovers; Santa Claus; Peter Pan; Babes in Toyland; Home Alone; Hook, and Tom & Jerry – The Movie.

Bricusse wrote more than 40 musical shows and films and, over the years, enjoyed fruitful musical collaborations with Henry Mancini, John Williams, Anthony Newley, Quincy Jones, John Barry, Jerry Goldsmith, Jule Styne, Lionel Bart, Andre Previn, Frank Wildhorn, and Peter Illyitch Tchaikovsky (whose “Nutcracker Suite” Bricusse adapted into a song score).

His best-known songs include “What Kind of Fool Am I?,” “Once in a Lifetime,” “Gonna Build a Mountain,” “Who Can I Turn To?,” “The Joker,” “If I Ruled the World,” “My Kind of Girl,” “Talk to the Animals,” “You and I,” “Feeling Good,” “When I Look in Your Eyes,” “Goldfinger,” “The Love Theme from Superman (Can You Read My Mind?),” “You Only Live Twice,” “Le Jazz Hot,” “On a Wonderful Day Like Today,” “Two for the Road,” “This is the Moment,” and “The Candy Man.”

Bricusse was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, nine Grammys, and four Tonys. He won two Oscars, a Grammy, and eight Ivor Novello Awards (the premiere British songwriting award).

Hundreds of Bricusse’s songs have been recorded by major artists, including Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Judy Garland, Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, Sammy Davis Jr. (who recorded 60 Bricusse songs), Tony Bennett, Shirley Bassey, Dean Martin, Tom Jones, Petula Clark, Julie Andrews, Liza Minnelli, Andy Williams, Rex Harrison, Elaine Paige, Anthony Newley, Michael Feinstein, Bette Midler, The Moody Blues, Nancy Sinatra, Lena Horne, Sergio Mendes, Dionne Warwick, Robert Goulet, Matt Munro, Ray Charles, Ethel Merman, Placido Domingo, Kate Smith, Jennifer Holliday, Danny Kaye, and many more.

In 1989, Bricusse received the Kennedy Award for consistent excellence in British songwriting bestowed by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, and was inducted into the American Songwriters Hall of Fame – only the fourth Englishman to be so honored.