Jerry Herman, composer of ‘Hello Dolly!’ and other Broadway hits, dies at 88

(JTA) — Composer Jerry Herman, who wrote music and lyrics for Broadway hits including “Hello, Dolly!” and “La Cage aux Folles,” died at the age of 88.

Jerry Herman at the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony in which he was inducted in 2010. (Photo via Wikimedia)

Herman, who was diagnosed with HIV in the 1980s, died in Miami on Thursday of pulmonary complications, his goddaughter told the Associated Press.

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 theatre 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.

“Hello, Dolly!,” the story of a matchmaker trying to find a partner for an unmarried rich man, became his first major success in 1964.

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