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Oscar Hammerstein II Biography

Birth Name:
Oscar Clendenning Hammerstein
Birth Place:
New York, New York, United States
Songwriter, lyricist, composer

Fast Facts

  • Born into a show-business family; his father and uncle produced and managed Broadway productions, and his grandfather, Oscar Hammerstein I, was an opera conductor
  • Briefly attended Columbia Law School before focusing on songwriting
  • Collaborated with Jerome Kern to transform musical theater in 1927 with Showboat, the controversial operetta based on Edna Ferber's novel that spans almost 50 years and features an interracial romance
  • In 1943, modernized Bizet's tragic opera Carmen into a highly praised all-black version titled Carmen Jones
  • Successfully collaborated exclusively for 18 years with college friend Richard Rodgers during the 1940s and '50s, beginning with the form-altering musical play Oklahoma! Won a special Pulitzer Prize for Oklahoma! in 1944 and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for South Pacific in 1950
  • Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970
  • Was listed, with Rodgers, among the 20 most influential artists of the 20th century by Time magazine and CBS News
  • Commemorated along with Rodgers on a U
  • S
  • postage stamp in 1999 and for Oklahoma! in 2007


  • 1951Oscar-Best Achievement in Music (Song): nominated
  • 1946Oscar-Best Achievement in Music (Song): nominated
  • 1945Oscar-Best Achievement in Music (Song): winner
  • 1941Oscar-Best Achievement in Music (Song): winner
  • 1938Oscar-Best Achievement in Music (Song): nominated


  • Reginald Hammerstein -- Brother
  • Alice Hammerstein Mathias -- Daughter
  • Myra Finn -- Ex-wife
  • William Hammerstein -- Father
  • Alice Nimmo Hammerstein -- Mother
  • James Blanchard Hammerstein -- Son
  • William Hammerstein -- Son
  • Susan Blanchard -- Stepdaughter
  • Henry Jacobson -- Stepson
  • Dorothy Blanchard Jacobson -- Wife