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Lot #8518
George and Ira Gershwin 1937 RKO Radio Pictures Signed Agreement

Late Gershwin brothers RKO document for “music and lyrics which will be used in our productions”

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Estimate: $1500+
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Late Gershwin brothers RKO document for “music and lyrics which will be used in our productions”

Document signed "George Gershwin" and "Ira Gershwin," one page, 8.5 x 11, May 24, 1937. Document concerning their agreement with RKO Radio Pictures. In part: "This will confirm our understanding with reference to our use of your names in our 1937-1938 Annual Sales Book. You have agreed that we may make appropriate mention of your names and indicate that you have composed music and lyrics which will be used in our productions." Handsomely signed at the conclusion by both George and Ira Gershwin, and countersigned by an RKO representative. In fine condition, with expected document wear and a few light creases.

RKO Radio Pictures recruited George and Ira Gershwin to score the 1937 film Shall We Dance, a musical comedy starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers that blended classical ballet with modern jazz-just as George Gershwin did throughout his body of work. Although Ira was less enthusiastic about the concept, George embraced it and composed music in a different style for each scene. The film had been released on May 7, just a few weeks prior to the brothers signing this document. During this time, George began exhibiting increasingly erratic behavior and his wife suspected the onset of mental illness. A brain tumor was discovered soon after and he passed away due to complications on July 11. Later that year, he posthumously received his only Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song for the now-classic tune-'They Can't Take That Away from Me.' Pre-certified PSA/DNA.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Sports
  • Dates: #542 - Ended February 21, 2019