October 29, 2020

Herbert Kretzmer dead at 95 – Les Misérables lyricist dies as Sir Tim Rice leads tributes to ‘giant of his trade’

Herbert Kretzmer dead at 95 – Les Misérables lyricist dies as Sir Tim Rice leads tributes to ‘giant of his trade’

HERBERT Kretzmer, the Les Miserables lyricist, has died aged 95.

The lyricist and journalist was best known for his adaptation of the famous musical.

Herbert Kretzmer has died aged 95

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Herbert Kretzmer has died aged 95Credit: Getty Images – Getty

He was behind the English lyrics to the classics “I Dreamed a Dream” and “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”.

The lyricist helped turn the two-hour musical into three-hours by incorporating the French words, and got Tony and Grammy nods for his work.

He was later nominated for an Oscar and Golden Globe when a new song “Suddenly” was added into the film of the musical in 2012.

Paying tribute, Sir Tim Rice described him as “a giant of his trade”, adding: “RIP Herbie.”

Les Miserables producer Cameron Mackintosh said: “It is terribly sad to hear that the great Herbert Kretzmer passed away last night after a period of illness.

“His wonderful words for Les Misérables will live on in his memory forever more and the Christmas season at the Sondheim will be all the more poignant for all of us as we hear the people sing without having him there.

“God bless you, Herbie.”

Actor Gary Kemp wrote on Twitter: “The great Herbie Kretzmer has died. One of our country’s top lyricists and man of the theatre who penned She, Les Mis and much more.

‘HIS WONDERFUL WORDS’

“I had the privilege to know him a little and send his family much love. RIP.”

Kretzmer worked as a writer for the Sunday Dispatch and the Daily Express, later becoming a senior drama critic there for 18 years.

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He later wrote for the Daily Mail but in an interview with the Guardian said his work on Les Mis was what changed his life.

He said: “I returned to the Mail, but then it became clear that the show had a fairly certain future: I was able to give up my day job at 61.

“Les Misérables has brought me my London house and my wife, whom I met at the opening-night party in New York.

“I often marvel at how those few feet between [producer] Cameron Mackintosh’s sofa and his door changed my life.”

The South-African born writer also wrote the lyrics to Good Gracious Me, sung by Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren.

Photographed at his London home after being made an OBE

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Photographed at his London home after being made an OBECredit: Alamy
Kretzmer with his wife Sybil at the 2013 Bafta afterparty

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Kretzmer with his wife Sybil at the 2013 Bafta afterpartyCredit: Rex Features
Herbert Kretzmer was a lyricist, playwright and journalist

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Herbert Kretzmer was a lyricist, playwright and journalistCredit: Rex Features

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