January 23, 2003

ASCAP SONGWRITER DORIS FISHER DIES AT 87; Composed Music for Hits “You Always Hurt The One You Love,” “Put The Blame On Mame,” “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall”

ASCAP member Doris Fisher, composer of many hit songs of the 1940s, died on January 15, 2003 at Century City Hospital in Los Angeles after a brief illness. Born in New York City in 1915, she was a member of a famed musical family. Her father, Fred Fisher, was the composer of "Peg O' My Heart," "Dardanella," and "Chicago." Her two brothers also wrote songs: Dan was especially known for "Good Morning Heartache" and Marvin for "When Sunny Gets Blue."

Doris Fisher’s first song hits were “Tutti Frutti,” (written with Slim Gaillard) in 1938, and “Whispering Grass,” (written with her father in 1940), introduced with great success by the Ink Spots. At about the same time, Fisher became a successful singer in nightclubs and on the radio, singing with Eddy Duchin’s band and, not wanting to trade on her father’s name, making records with her own group under the name Penny Wise and her Wise Guys.

Lyricist Allan Roberts became her most important collaborator. In 1944 alone, they wrote “Angelina (The Waitress At The Pizzeria),” which became identified with Louis Prima; “Good, Good, Good,” sung by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters; “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall,” a major hit for Ella Fitzgerald and the Ink Spots, “Invitation To The Blues,” introduced by Ella Mae Morse with Harry James; “That Ole Devil Called Love,” for Billie Holiday; and “You Always Hurt The One You Love,” a hit first for the Mills Brothers and then, for Spike Jones in a novelty rendition.

Other Fisher-Roberts hits included “Tampico,” for Stan Kenton and June Christy; and two of Pearl Bailey’s biggest hits, “Tired” and “That’s Good Enough For Me.” These successes attracted the attention of Columbia Pictures’ Harry Cohn, who recruited Fisher and Roberts to write for Hollywood films. Their first project was Gilda, starring Rita Hayworth, which featured “Put the Blame on Mame.”

Additional films to which Fisher and Roberts contributed are Down To Earth, The Lady From Shanghai, Singin’ In The Corn, Strawberry Roan, Dead Reckoning, The Thrill Of Brazil, and The Corpse Came C.O.D.

In 1949, Fisher not only left the music business to marry Charles Gershenson, but also gave up Hollywood for Detroit. In addition to bringing up a daughter and son, her many interests included Americana and interior design, a field in which she enjoyed a successful second career.

Doris Fisher’s songs were recorded by numerous artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, Glenn Miller, Nat King Cole, Doris Day, Gene Autry, Billie Holiday, Louis Prima, Margaret Whiting, The Ink Spots, Pearl Bailey, Count Basie, Jo Stafford, Bing Crosby, Xavier Cugat, The Mills Brothers, Kay Starr, Gene Krupa, Jeri Southern, Woody Herman, June Christy, Vaughn Monroe, Stan Kenton, Dick Haymes, Louis Jordan, Anita Ellis, Johnny Desmond, Billy Eckstine, Julie London, Spike Jones, and The Andrews Sisters.

She is survived by her daughter, Frederica Thea, of New York City, her son, Ned Gershenson, of Henderson, Nevada, and two grandsons.