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Famous Like Me > Composer > Z > Hy Zaret

Profile of Hy Zaret on Famous Like Me

Name: Hy Zaret  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 5th November 1919
Place of Birth: Cortland, New York, USA
Profession: Composer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Hy Zaret is the pen name for William Albert Stirrat (November 5, 1919—July 2, 2004). He was born in Syracuse, New York and was a composer and lyricist, best known for writing the lyrics to "Unchained Melody", one of the most-recorded songs of all time.

He originally wrote the lyrics to "Unchained Melody" as a 16-year-old in honor of Mary Louise "Cookie" Pierce, whom he considered to be "the prettiest girl in my neighborhood."

Pierce married another man, and Stirrat met and married his wife, Bernice, in 1958, with whom he had three children and six grandchildren.

Stirrat teamed up with composer Alex North, who wrote the music for "Unchained Melody" in 1936. Attempts to get the song recorded by Bing Crosby and Duke Ellington failed and Stirrat gave up on the song. Stirrat contributed some songs to a few uninspiring "B-movies" in the early 1940s and produced a set of children's science songs in the late 1950s, but otherwise did not have much musical success.

"Unchained Melody" became a hit song when it was featured in the 1955 prison movie "Unchained". But Stirrat didn’t receive any royalties for the lyrics â€” not even when it became a hit song with The Righteous Brothers in 1965 â€” until he joined the Songwriters Guild in 1979 to register his claim. The claim was disputed until 1982, when a court ruled that Stirrat, indeed, was the author of the lyrics and was entitled to royalties for them. Stirrat never received all the royalties that were due to him and much of those royalties went to lawyers fighting for the claim.

The claim was complicated by the fact that in the intervening years, at least five other men had claimed to be Hy Zaret and were collecting royalties for the lyrics.

He didn't pursue music as a career. He studied engineering and aerodynamics and became an electronics engineer for the U.S. Army, General Electric, and Northrop Grumman.

He retired in 1992 and died on July 2, 2004 in Freehold Township, New Jersey.

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Hy Zaret