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Ballard MacDonald

Lyricist, Composer, Film Director, Screenwriter

(1882 - 1935)

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Big Bands Database


"Beautiful Ohio" at netstate.com


On Broadway at ibdb.com
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Films at nytimes.com

Ballard MacDonald* may be the only prominent lyricist of his generation to be born in Portland, Oregon. It was after graduation from Princeton and studies at the Sorbonne in Paris that he got into show business via vaudeville and Broadway and became a charter member of ASCAP in 1914. He was the librettist and lyricist for Ziegfeld’s Follies in 1919 (and in 1934) and wrote the book and lyrics for his first Broadway show in 1921, Love Birds. With B.G. De Sylva he wrote the lyrics to George Gershwin’s “Somebody Loves Me,” which appeared in George White’s Scandals of 1924 and became the title song of a 1952 film. A 1935 version of the Scandals contained the song “Anything Can Happen” for which MacDonald wrote both music and lyrics.

The only thing typical of MacDonald’s work is its variety. His hit songs include “Indiana” (1917, with James Hanley) and “Trail of the Lonesome Pine,” a song about Virginia written with Harry Carroll in 1913. “Beautiful Ohio,” written in 1918 with composer Mary Earl, was adopted as the State song in 1969, and new lyrics by Wilbert McBride were added in 1989.

“Rose of Washington Square,” written with James Hanley for a 1920 Zeigfeld show, became the title of a thinly disguised film biography of Fannie Brice in 1939. MacDonald and Billy Rose collaborated on the lyrics for Joseph Meyer’s “Clap Hands Here Comes Charlie” (1925), which Ella Fitzgerald used as the title cut of her 1962 album. “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers,” a novelty song written in 1905 by German composer Leon Jessel, was given lyrics by MacDonald for the Broadway show The Bat in 1922.

MacDonald contributed songs to several films while under contract to MGM and was the director of The Big Casino in 1933.

- Sandra Burlingame

*Editor’s note: A visitor cautions that the proper spelling is Macdonald, with a lower case D. He states, “I’ve consulted 22 pieces of original sheet music. Eleven use all-caps and are of no use, but of the 11 that use upper- and lowercase letters, 10 spell it Macdonald.” The visitor is likely correct, although in my library nearly all of the publications use the upper case D.

Lester Young with Oscar Peterson Trio

Lester Young, Oscar Peterson Trio (Includes "Indiana")

Somebody Loves Me

Zoot Sims

Clap Hands Here Comes Charlie!

Ella Fitzgerald

Indiana And Other American Standards (Book & CD Set)

Jamey Aebersold Play-A-Long Series
Reading and Viewing

At Amazon.com you can often buy used for a fraction of the new price

Tyrone Power, Alice Faye, Al Jolson

Rose of Washington Square (1939)


The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1936)


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