The life and career of Leslie Bricusse was vibrant and varied. He was born in London in 1939, and then studied at Cambridge University. While there, he founded the Musical Comedy Club and was President of the Footlights Revue Club. His start in the professional arts came when actress Beatrice Lillie "discovered" him during the Revue. He was interested in acting and directing, but found his niche as a playwright, composer, and lyricist.
Bricusse's first successful stage musical was Stop the World--I Want to Get Off (1961), which he wrote in partnership with Anthony Newley. It was made into a film in 1966, and its success led to more opportunities for the duo. In 1971, they wrote the score for Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and earned their first Academy Award nomination (Best Original Song Score).
As a lyricist, Bricusse continued to collaborate with a variety of composers, from Henry Mancini (Victoria/Victoria) to Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll & Hyde and Cyrano de Bergerac). With Henry Mancini, Bricusse won his first Academy Award in 1982 for Best Music Score--over a decade later, Victor/Victoria went to Broadway. With Wildhorn, he was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical in 1997 for Jekyll & Hyde.
Altogether, Leslie Bricusse has been nominated for Tony, Grammy, and Academy Awards dozens of times. He died on 19 October 2021 in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France at the age of 90.
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