Hugh Martin

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" songwriter Hugh Martin has died. He was 96.

Martin is best known for composing the score to the 1944 musical Meet Me In St. Louis, in which Judy Garland famously performs the song that became a seasonal classic. Martin and songwriting partner Ralph Blane received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song for writing the film's "The Trolley Song." The duo also were nominated in 1947 for "Pass the Peace Pipe" from Good News.

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In 2010, Martin, who died Friday of natural causes at  his Encinitas, Calif., home, released an autobiography titled Hugh Martin: The Boy Next Door — a reference to yet another notable song from Meet Me in St. Louis.

"Our family was blessed to have Uncle Hugh in our lives. Not only was he an amazing and talented musician and composer, but the most caring and thoughtful man you'll ever meet," Suzanne Hanners, Martin's niece, said in a statement on his website announcing his death. "He was adored by family and friends and respected and loved by colleagues. He had such grace and class. He truly was 'the boy next door.'"

Born Aug. 11, 1914, in Birmingham, Ala., Martin also received four Tony nominations.

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"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" was recorded by more than 500 singers — among them Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Christina Aguilera, Garth Brooks, Ella Fitzgerald, Whitney Houston, the Jackson 5, Barry Manilow, Bette Midler and Lou Rawls.

Martin is survived by brother Gordon, nephews Gordon Martin Jr. and Hugh Martin III, nieces Suzanne Hanners and Lua Martin Wells and manager and longtime friend Elaine Harrison.