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“Hello Dolly!” composer Jerry Herman dies

(JTA) — Composer Jerry Herman, who wrote music and lyrics for Broadway hits including “Hello, Dolly!” and “La Cage aux Folles,” died Thursday, Dec. 26, at the age of 88. Herman, who was diagnosed with HIV in the 1980s, died in Miami of pulmonary complications. One of his best-known songs was “I Am What I Am,” from “La Cage aux Folles,” which became an LGBT anthem. Herman, who won two Tony Awards and two Grammys, was raised by Jewish parents in Jersey City, N.J. He said in interviews that Irving Berlin, the Russian-American Jewish composer, had been a strong influence and inspiration on him. Seeing Berlin’s “Annie Get Your Gun” had set him on the path to Broadway, Herman said. “I walked out of that theater singing all those wonderful Berlin songs and, from that moment on, that’s all I wanted to do with my life,” Herman, who was born in New York, told NPR in 1994.

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