Home / Entertainment / Herbert Kretzmer, lyricist of “Les Misérables”, dies at 95

Herbert Kretzmer, lyricist of “Les Misérables”, dies at 95



A Broadway production of “Les Misérables” opened in 1987 and ran for 16 years, and there were Broadway revivals in 2006 and 2014. A Hollywood theatrical version in 2012 earned more than $ 440 million. Rich in awards, translated into 22 languages, the musical has been performed by 100 touring companies and seen by 80 million people around the world. Its estimated earnings are in excess of $ 3 billion.

Herbert Kretzmer was born on October 5, 1925 in Kroonstad, South Africa, one of four children of William and Tilly Kretzmer, Lithuanian Jewish immigrants who fled the pogroms of Tsarist Russia. His parents ran a furniture store. His older brother, Elliot, became the mayor of Johannesburg.

The songs inspired Herbert. He had no musical training, but he played the piano by ear. He is a graduate of Kroonstad High School and Rhodes University in Grahamstown, where he wrote lyrics for school musicals. He began writing weekly film columns in 1946 for Africa Film Productions. In the early 1950s, he was a journalist and entertainment columnist for The Johannesburg Express.

After landing in London in 1954, he wrote for The Daily Sketch and The Sunday Dispatch. As a theater critic of The Express from 1962 to 1978, he wrote 2,500 reviews and interviewed John Steinbeck, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, and many theater and film stars. He won two national awards as a television critic of the Daily Mail from 1979 to 1987.

Mr. Kretzmer married Elisabeth Wilson in 1961. They had two children, Danielle and Matthew, and they divorced in 1973. In 1988 he married Sybil Sever, an American. He leaves him his second wife, his two children and two grandchildren, said Mr. Berlin, his agent.

In his second career, Mr. Kretzmer adapted and wrote the lyrics for a 1964 musical, “Our Man Crichton”, based on the work of J.M. Barrie “The Admirable Crichton”, which aired for eight months in London. Her collaboration with Mr. Aznavour in “She” (1974) helped introduce the French singer to an international audience.

Mr. Kretzmer’s royalties from “Les Miz” amounted to approximately $ 20 million. He bought a town house in London and filled it with art, and he was a celebrity everywhere he went. Queen Elizabeth II made him an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2011.


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