Johnny Green, composer of one of the great standards “Body and Soul” and one of the most celebrated conductors in American popular music, was born in New York City on October 10, 1908.
Green attended Horace Mann H.S., the New York Military Academy, and then graduated from Harvard University, in 1928. He studied music under the tutelage of Herman Wasserman, Ignace Hilsberg and Walter Spalding. In his early career, he arranged for the Guy Lombardo Orchestra and contributed to various revues, most notably Three’s a Crowd
From 1930-1933, he was the arranger and conductor for Paramount studios and accompanied singers Ethel Merman, Gertrude Lawrence and James Melton. Green led his own orchestra in night clubs throughout the country and from 1933 through 1940 conducted orchestras for the Jack Benny and Philip Morris records and radio shows.
In 1949, Green was hired as the Music Director at MGM, a position he would hold until 1959. During his tenure, Green produced several film scores for some of MGM’s most celebrated films including Something in the Wind, Raintree Country, Easter Parade (won Academy Award for Best Score in 1951), Fiesta, Bathing Beauty, Summer Stock, The Toast of New Orleans, An American in Paris (won Academy Award for Best Score in 1953), Royal Wedding, High Society, West Side Story (won Academy Award for Best Score in 1961) and Bye Bye Birdie. Also successful on the stage, Green wrote the scores for Mr. Whittington, Here Goes the Bride and Beat the Band.
From 1959 through 1963, Green conducted with various orchestras including the Denver Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra.
Collaborating with lyricists such as Gus Kahn, Yip Harburg, Edward Heyman, Paul Francis Webster, Mack David, Billy Rose and Johnny Mercier, John Green’s discography includes a host of standards including “Body and Soul”, “Coquette”, “I’m Yours”, “Oceans of Time”, “Out of Nowhere”, “Weep No More My Baby”, “I Cover the Waterfront”, “An Hour Ago This Minute”, “Rain, Rain, Go Away”, “Easy Come, Easy Go”, “You’re Mine, You”, “The Steam is on he Beam”, “I’ve Got a Heavy Date”, “I Wanna Be Loved”, “Hello, My Lover, Goodbye”, “Something in the Wind”, “The Turntable Song” and “The Song of Raintree County”.
Green also had his own radio series, World of Music; was the chairman of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and was on the Board of Govenors.
Johnny Green died in New York City on May 17, 1989.