NEW YORK (AP) – Betty Comden, whose more than 60-year collaboration with Adolph Green produced the classic New York stage musical “On the Town,” as well as “Singin’ in the Rain,” has died. She was 89.

Comden had been ill for a few months and died Thursday of heart failure at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, said her longtime attorney and executor Ronald Konecky.

On Broadway, Comden and Green (the billing was always alphabetical) worked most successfully with composers Leonard Bernstein, Jule Styne and Cy Coleman. The duo wrote lyrics and often the books for more than a dozen shows, many of them built around such stars as Rosalind Russell, Judy Holliday, Phil Silvers, Carol Burnett and Lauren Bacall.

They won five Tony Awards, with three of their shows – “Wonderful Town,” “Hallelujah, Baby!” and “Applause” – winning the top prize for best musical. The duo received the Kennedy Center honors in 1991.

The two were never married to each other, although many thought they were, considering the longevity of their working relationship.

Green died in October 2002 at age 87. At a memorial for him a few weeks later, Comden recalled their early days as collaborators and then halted before saying: “It’s lonely up here. It was always more fun with Adolph.”

The best Comden and Green lyrics were brash and buoyant, full of quick wit, best exemplified by “New York, New York,” an exuberant and forthright hymn to their favorite city.

Yet even the songwriters’ biggest pop hits – “The Party’s Over,” “Just in Time” and “Make Someone Happy” – were simple, direct and heartfelt.


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