Jerry Ross wrote the musical scores for two of the most popular and enduring musicals in Broadway Theater, The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees, two shows which personify the innocence and exuberance of the Golden Age of Broadway.
Jerry Ross was born Jerold Rosenberg on March 9, 1926, to Russian immigrant parents, Lena and Jacob Rosenberg, in the East Bronx, New York City. As a child and young teen, he was the hottest young property on the Jewish stage, singing and acting professionally and billed as the Boy Star in Yiddish stage and movie productions. An ongoing bronchial condition, however, ended his performing career while he was still in high school.
Fortunately, he also began writing songs while in high school, although he had no formal training in music. Subsequently he studied at New York University under Rudolph Schramm. A fortuitous introduction to Eddie Fisher led to further introductions to music publishers at the hub of songwriting activity, the famed Brill Building. Fisher recorded Ross The Newspaper Song, which garnered early attention for both of them.
After penning several well-received songs, some in collaboration with Buddy Kaye and other Brill Building alumni, Ross met Richard Adler in 1950. They decided to team their talents, writing songs and special material, mainly for TV and nightclub acts. They had published several songs together when they attracted the attention of writer/publisher Frank Loesser and became his protégés. By 1953, their song "Rags to Riches" rocketed to number 1 on the charts, becoming a long-standing smash hit, recorded by Tony Bennett.
Ross began his career in the Broadway Theater with John Murray…