Let Him Play Among the Stars: Bart Howard Dies at 88
"Fly Me to the Moon" was originally titled "In Other Words" but the song soon assumed the title of the lyric's most memorable phrase. The romantic ballad was introduced by the cabaret singer Felicia Sanders in 1954 and first gained popularity when Peggy Lee performed it on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1960. It later became a hit for Frank Sinatra and many other singers.
Bart Howard was born Howard Joseph Gustafson in Burlington, Iowa. At an early age, he left home to become the pianist for a dance band that toured with the conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton (later the subjects of the Broadway musical Side Show). Howard eventually moved to Los Angeles and then to New York.
In 1938, he began a professional association with the legendary cabaret singer Mabel Mercer. During the 1950s, he was a pianist at the Blue Angel in Manhattan and, in that capacity, he gave an early push to the careers of such stars as Eartha Kitt, Dorothy Loudon, and Johnny Mathis. In recent years, Howard was a champion of cabaret singer KT Sullivan. Although he wrote no standards other than "Fly Me to the Moon," that song assured his place in the pantheon and Howard was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1999.