George Cory

  • Born: (Syracuse, New York, USA)
  • Died: (San Francisco, California, USA) age 57

George C. Cory Jr. was an American pianist and composer whose most notable work was the music to the song "I Left My Heart in San Francisco". His partner, Douglass Cross, wrote the lyrics. When the song was written in 1953, Cory and Cross were amateur songwriters who had moved to New York following military service during WW II and had become homesick for the West Coast. After pitching the song unsuccessfully to other artists for about eight years, the song was picked up by Ralph Sharon, Tony Bennett's musical director, who suggested to Bennett that it would be a good song for a 1962 "Happy New Year" engagement scheduled at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. Mayor George Christopher and future mayor Joseph L. Alioto were in attendance. After a good response to the song, Bennett recorded it shortly thereafter and released it in February 1962. The song became an enduring hit and in 1969 was named as the official song of San Francisco. The two authors were present at the meeting when the city's board of governors selected it by a unanimous decision.

While in the army, he met Douglass Cross who was also in the service at the time. Cross had been a baritone soloist (and youngest member) of the San Francisco Opera Company in 1941 when his career was interrupted by the war. During the war, Cory and Cross collaborated on musical shows for servicemen. After military service, the two moved to Brooklyn, New York, to make a career of songwriting and met with mixed success. They wrote over 200 songs together, but only 30 were published. The song, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" was their only commercial success. The song provided them income for life when it became an international hit. In 2003, authors Cory and Cross received the "Towering Song Award" for the song, given by the Songwriters Hall of Fame and presented at the National Academy of Popular Music's 34th annual induction ceremony. Tony Bennett received the "Towering Performance Award" for his trademark rendition of the song.

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