Walter Kent

Walter Kent (born Walter Maurice Kaufman, November 29, 1911 – March 2, 1994) was an American composer and conductor.[1] Some notable compositions are: "I'll Be Home for Christmas", "I’m Gonna Live Till I Die" and "(There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover".

Walter Kent
Birth nameWalter Maurice Kaufman
Born(1911-11-29)November 29, 1911
New York City, New York, United States
DiedMarch 2, 1994(1994-03-02) (aged 82)
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, United States

Early lifeEdit

Walter Kent was born to a Jewish family[2] on November 29, 1911 in New York City. He graduated from Townsend Harris Hall High School. Kent received a scholarship to attend the Juilliard School of Music in New York where he chose to pursue advanced study of the violin. Kent was also involved in private music study with Leopold Auer and Samuel Gardner. He also received more formal education at City College of New York. After completion of his university education, Kent conducted his own orchestra in New York, performing in theatres and on the radio.[1] Additionally, Kent became a freelance architect following his education, continuing to write music in his spare time.


Following his completion of his education, Kent was an architect, continuing to write music on the side, conducting his own orchestra performing on radio and in theatres. In 1932, Kent co-wrote his first major song with Milton Drake and Abner Silver entitled, “Pu-Leeze, Mister Hemingway”. Following his break, Kent moved to Los Angeles, remaining a freelance architect, while venturing into his musical career.

Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Kent worked in the motion picture industry composing songs for films, including several westerns. As World War II started in Europe, Kent's thematic concepts of his work turned towards the conflict, with the composition of the melody of "(There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover" in 1941. The song was a piece that expressed sympathy for England's struggle against the looming Nazi threat at the time. Kent received two Oscar nominations, one in 1944 for his song "Too Much In Love", showcased in the film Song of the Open Road and another in 1945 for “Endlessly” found in Earl Carroll's Vanities. In 1951, Walter Kent wrote the stage score for Seventeen alongside Kim Gannon. The musical was shown for five months. Throughout his career, Kent worked with multiple artists including; Al Hoffman, Mann Curtis, Jerome Jerome, Richard Byron and Milton Drake.[1] After 1951, Kent's career in Hollywood dwindled and he seldom produced any music following his work on Seventeen.


Preceding his death in 1989, Kent journeyed to Kent, England (the Anglo-Saxon namesake of his adopted surname) to view the cliffs of Dover. At the time of his visit, he donated an original manuscript of the song "(There'll Be Blue Birds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover" and participated in the preliminary stages of planning a war commemoration tourist center. Walter Kent died at the age of 82 on March 2, 1994 in Los Angeles.

Composed worksEdit

The following is a list of musical works from the career of Walter Kent:[3]

  • Where (1932)
  • Puleeze, Mr. Hemingway (1932)
  • You Opened My Eyes (1935)
  • Love is Like A Cigarette (1936)
  • El Amor es una Ilusión (1936)
  • Ziegfeld Follies (1936)
  • Manhattan Merry-Go-Round (1937)
  • Apple Blossoms and Chapel Bells (1940)
  • (There’ll Be Blue Birds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover (1941)
  • When The Roses Bloom Again (1942)
  • I Never Mention Your Name (1943)
  • My Best Gal (1943)
  • I’ll Be Home For Christmas (1943)
  • Too Much In Love (1944)
  • Casanova In Burlesque (1944)
  • Beautiful But Broke (1944)
  • Meet Miss Bobby Socks (1944)
  • Bowery to Broadway (1944)
  • Hitchhike to Happiness (1945)
  • Endlessly (1945)
  • Senorita From The West (1945)
  • That’s My Gal (1947)
  • Ahh But It Happens (1947)
  • April Showers (1948)
  • Melody Time (1948)
  • The Last Mile Home (1949)
  • I Cross My Fingers (1949)
  • I’m Gonna Live Till I Die (1950)
  • Sunny Side of the Street (1951)
  • I Could Get Married Today; from the Broadway Musical Seventeen (1951)
  • After All It’s Spring; from the Broadway Musical Seventeen (1951)
  • This Could Be The Night (1957)
  • Swingin’ Along (1962)


Kent began composing for movies in the late 1930s with beginning with Manhattan Merry-Go-Round in 1937 and continuing to doing so for the next three decades. Kent received Oscar nominations for his film compositions entitled “Too Much In Love” (1944) and “Endlessly” (1945). He worked alongside Kim Gannon, composing songs for the big screen, for much of his Hollywood career. In 1950, Kent worked with Gannon once again to create the musical stage score for Seventeen, a Broadway musical based upon a novel of the same name.[1] Kent's song “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” has passed the test of time and remains to be a holiday classic, often used in holiday based cinema.

Below is a list of Kent's contributive film/theatrical works:

  • Manhattan Merry-Go-Round (1937)
  • Senorita from the West (1943)
  • Casanova in Burlesque (1944)
  • Song of the Open Road (1944)
  • Meet Miss Bobby Socks (1944)
  • Bowery to Broadway (1944)
  • Hitchhike to Happiness (1945)
  • Vanities (1945)
  • Melody Time (1948, during a Johnny Appleseed sequence)
  • April Showers (1948)
  • Seventeen (1950)
  • On the Sunny Side of the Street (1951)
  • Swingin’ Along (1962)


  1. ^ a b c d Encyclopedia of Popular Music (July 4, 2006). "Walter Kent". Oxford Music of Online. Retrieved November 25, 2017.
  2. ^ Bloom, Nate (December 22, 2014). "All those Holiday/Christmas Songs: So Many Jewish Songwriters!". Jewish World Review.
  3. ^ "Walter Kent (composer) - Discography of American Historical Recordings". Retrieved 2017-11-30.

External linksEdit