Mel Leven

Mel Leven

Mel Leven composer and lyricist, was born in Chicago on November 11, 1914. He began writing songs at an early age, but took a break in 1941 to serve in the U.S. Air Corps. One of Leven's assignments was in Nome, Alaska, teaching Russian pilots from Siberia about the instruments on P39 fighter planes.

After World War II, Leven settled in Los Angeles and returned to songwriting. During the 1950s, he wrote songs for the small animations studio, United Productions of America (UPA), which created the beloved Mr. Magoo cartoons. Leven also wrote "Every time" for Peggy Lee (which Jayne Mansfield sang in THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT) (1956), "Commoners Boogy" for the Andrew Sisters, "Are My Ears on Straight?," "Willy Claus," a song for the feature film SING BOY,SING (1957), several tunes for the short TREES AND JAMAICA DADDY (1958), and countless other songs for Nat King Cole, Dean Martin and Les Brown, among others.

Taking notice of Leven's ubiquitous work, Walt Disney invited him to become part of his writing staff. Often collaborating with composer George Bruns, Leven wrote songs for the stop-action short NOAH'S ARK (1959) and the DISNEYLAND TV Series. When Disney asked him to write some songs about spotted dogs and a fur- loving villainess for 101 DALMATIANS (1961), Leven spent a week on a variety of tunes, but Disney picked the jazzy and now famous - song "Cruella De Vil" that Leven had composed in just a few minutes before their meeting. In the same year, he wrote the story and new lyrics to sixteen tunes for BABES IN TOYLAND (1961) which was nominated for an Academy Award® and helped popularize the all-music picture. Working with the well-known Disney producer Ward Kimball, Leven wrote two songs for the part animation, part documentary film IT'S TOUGH TO BE A BIRD, which won the 1969 Academy Award® for Best Short Subject.

He continued to write for film and television in the decades that followed, including the long-running children's educational show BIG BLUE MARBLE (for which he provided songs, stories, voice and ukelele), the tune for Butternut/Weber's Bread and voices of the Folgers® coffe bean, Creepy Crawlers"!, and Crackle from Kellogs® Rice Crispies.

Leven's work has won two Emmy® Awards, two Peabody Awards® and Cannes Film Festival Awards.

Mel Leven lives in Studio City, California and still actively writes comedic songs in the Big Band style.

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