Composer Ralph Rainger was born in New York City on October 7, 1900. Showing an early talent for composition, he won and accepted a scholarship to New York’s prestigious Damrosch Institute of Music, however, under pressure from his family for a more sensible career, Rainger dropped out after just a year and began working his way through Law School and graduated from Brown University Law School in the late 1920’s.
Throughout the years, however, he had studied with instructors such as Paolo Gallico, Clarence Adler and Arnold Schoenberg and shortly after his graduation from Brown, he decided to devote his life to music and began taking jobs as a professional pianist, arranger and accompanist for vaudeville entertainers.
In 1928, he formed a team with Edgar Fairchild and the two co-led an orchestra in the Broadway production, Cross My Heart. However, it wasn’t until 1929 in the revue The Little Show, starring Clifton Webb, that Rainger had his first commercial success with the song “Moanin’ Low”. Webb had gotten Ralph the job as pianist in the pit orchestra and during one of the rehearsals they felt that a song was needed. Rainger, with a lyric by Howard Dietz, provided “Moanin’ Low”.
In 1930, Rainger had another hit song featured in the Broadway revue Tattle Tales, entitled “I'll Take an Option on You”, which had a lyric by Leo Robin. This was the beginning of a great Robin and Rainger team.
Under contract with Paramount Studios, Robin and Rainger moved to Hollywood and produced some of the most memorable film scores from the era, including She Done Him Wrong, She Loves Me Not, Shoot the Works, Here is My Heart, The Big Broadcast of 1937, The Big Broadcast of 1938, Waikiki Wedding, Give Me A Sailor and Paris Honeymoon. In 1939, Robin and Rainger left Paramount and signed with 20th Century Fox, where they continued to contribute songs to films.
Other than Robin, Rainger collaborated with lyricists Howard Dietz, Sam Coslow and Dorothy Parker producing such memorable standards as “Please”, “Here Lies Love”, “In The Park in Paree in the Spring”, “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Love”, “Take a Lesson From the Lark”, “Love in Bloom”, “With Every Breath I Take”, “June in January”, “Here is My Heart”, “Miss Brown to You”, “Double Trouble”, “I Wished on the Moon”, “I Don’t Want to Make History”, “Here’s Love in Your Eyes”, “La Bomba”, “Blue Hawaii”, “In a Little Hula Heaven”, “Sweet is the Word for You”, “Easy Living”, “What Have You Got That Gets Me?”, “You’re Lovely, Madame”, “Blossoms on Broadway”, “Ebb Tide”, “Thanks for the Memory”, “You Took the Words Right Out of My Heart”, “The Funny Old Hills”, “I Have Eyes”, “Sweet Little Headache”, “Bluebirds in the Moonlight”, “I Have to Have You”, “Louise”, “A Rhyme For Love”, “Love In Bloom”, “Hello, Ma! I Don’t It Again”, “Oh, the Pity of it All”, “If I Should Lose You” and “When a Woman Loves a Man”.
Ralph Rainger died in Beverly Hills, CA on October 23, 1942 at the age of 41.