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1979 Horatio Alger Award Winner

E.Y. Harburg*

Lyricist, Writer & Lecturer

"It is important to put meaning into your life."

E. Y. Yip Harburg was born on New York's Lower East Side to Russian Jewish immigrants. His father was a garment worker and his mother made hair nets at home. In the first grade, Harburg had his first job--putting pickles in jars at a small pickle factory. He had other odd jobs including lighting lamps along the docks of the East River. Harburg fell in love with the theater when a teacher took him and some classmates to see Peter Pan. After graduating with a bachelor's degree from City College, Harburg worked for an American manufacturing firm in South America, but the business went bankrupt. In 1921, he and a friend started an electrical appliance company in New York City that became quite successful before collapsing in 1929. He began writing lyrics for shows. In 1932, he collaborated with Jay Gorney to write "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" - the unofficial anthem of the Great Depression. He wrote lyrics for Broadway musicals and movies, including "Over the Rainbow," "Its Only a Paper Moon," and "April in Paris."

* Deceased