Born June 10, 1891
, drinker, and glutton
. Chief songwriting collaborator was Harry Warren
Though a staff lyricist in Tin Pan Alley before World War I, success would come much later, after a stint in the entertainment unit of the 77th Division overseas. In 1925, he had his first big hit (with Billy Rose), "A Cup of Coffee, a Sandwich and You" sung by Gertrude Lawrence and Jack Buchanan in Charlot's Revue of 1926.
The title was inspired by a line from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: "A Loaf of Bread, A Jug of Wine, and Thou."
In 1929, Warner Brothers hired him to write for the film, Gold Diggers of
Broadway (Dubin was one of the first lyricists to get a studio contract for the new talkies-- although he and Joe Burke only had one week to complete this first assignment). With Burke, penned "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" and "Painting the Clouds with Sunshine" for the film. Dubin went on to write lyrics for all of the five 'Gold Diggers' films. In 1932, WB hired composer Harry Warren and teamed him with Al
Dubin. The team went on to provide the studio with over 60 hit songs in just the six following years, including: "42nd Street," "Shuffle Off To Buffalo,"
"You're Getting to be a Habit With Me," (all for 42nd Street), "We're In The Money" (for Gold Diggers of 1933), "The Boulevard of Broken Dreams (for Moulin Rouge)" "I Only Have Eyes For You" (for Dames), "Lulu's Back in Town" and "Flagenheim's Odorless Cheese." (for Broadway Gondolier), "About a Quarter to Nine" and "She's a Latin From Manhattan" (for Go into Your Dance, and "With Plenty of Money and You" (for Gold Diggers of 1937).
Dubin and Warren won the Academy Award for Best Song in 1935, for "Lullaby of Broadway," sung by Winifred Shaw in Gold Diggers of 1935 (The producers didn't like the song and would have dropped it until they got word that Al Jolson wanted it).
Died 1945, New York of barbiturate poisoning and pneumonia.
Sources: Murray L. Pfeffer, The Tunesmiths Database, 1997, <http://nfo.net/.CAL/td5.html#Dubin> (6 January 2000)
David Ewen, Great Men of American Popular Song, Prentice-Hall, 1970.