Obituary – Lew Spence

LOS ANGELES – Lew Spence, a songwriter who composed the Grammy-nominated Frank Sinatra song “Nice ‘n’ Easy” and “That Face,” a standard recorded by Fred Astaire, has died. He was 87.

Mr. Spence died in his sleep Jan. 9 at his home in Los Angeles, said his niece, Toni Schulman.

A one-time singer-pianist, Mr. Spence began turning his songwriting hobby into a career in the late 1940s when he was nearly 30.

He worked with a number of lyricists, including Alan and Marilyn Bergman. At 60, Mr. Spence began writing lyrics to some of his songs, and he continued songwriting until his death.

Among his best-known works are “Half as Lovely (Twice as True),” “If I Had Three Wishes,” “Love Looks So Well on You,” “Sleep Warm” and “So Long My Love.”

In addition to Sinatra and Astaire, other artists who sang Mr. Spence’s songs included Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, Peggy Lee, Nat “King” Cole, Johnny Mathis, Bing Crosby, Billy Eckstine and Dinah Shore.

“I think he was an excellent songwriter, and his work had a lot of charm,” said Hugh Martin, a theater and film composer best known for his songs in the 1944 MGM musical “Meet Me in St. Louis.”

Marilyn Bergman said Friday that Mr. Spence “was a very talented songwriter. He should have had a bigger career than he did.”

Singer-pianist Michael Feinstein said “That Face,” which Astaire sang on his 1958 NBC special “An Evening With Fred Astaire,” has become “one of a small group of songs from that era that has become a standard.”

“He was a very talented man who was a real melodic craftsman,” Feinstein said of Mr. Spence, whom he first met in the 1980s.

Like Marilyn Bergman, Feinstein believes Mr. Spence “deserved more success than he ultimately attained.”

Copyright © 2008, Chicago Tribune

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