Bespectacled singer-songwriter Randy Newman (1943-) was born on this day in New Orleans and grew up in Los Angeles, the nephew of respected film composers Alfred, Lionel, and Emil Newman.
"I'd rather have my toe operated on than write," said the ironically funny Newman. Known for his satirical wit, he has become Hollywood's most popular film composer.
The creator of songs with cutting-edge social commentary, His song Mama Told Me Not To Come propelled Three Dog Night to the top of the charts in 1970. Newman gained his own Top 40 hit with Short People (1977), a celebration of the vertically challenged. I Love L.A. (1983) became an anthem against yuppie materialism.
He has said, "My music has a high irritation factor. I've always tried to say something. Eccentric lyrics about eccentric people. Often it was a joke. But I would plead guilty on the grounds that I prefer eccentricity to the bland."
He has created the music for such films as Ragtime (1981), The Natural (1984), and Toy Story (including the popular hit You've Got a Friend in Me). After 16 nominations, Newman finally won an Oscar for his song, If I Didn't Have You, from Monsters Inc. (2001) . "I've written music that I never thought I could write," he said.
"When you're writing, there's always hope."