Lyricist and Librettist Ellen Fitzhugh Dies at 81 | Playbill

Obituaries Lyricist and Librettist Ellen Fitzhugh Dies at 81

The Tony-, Emmy-, and Drama Desk-nominated lyricist passed away July 14.

Jonathan Tunick, Ellen Fitzhugh and Richard Nelson

Lyricist and librettist Ellen Fitzhugh passed away July 14 at the age of 81. Her death was due to a battle with lung cancer, according to her friend James Lapine.

Ms. Fitzhugh was best known for her work as lyricist for the Broadway musical Grind, which earned her a Tony nomination for Best Original Score and a Drama Desk nomination for Best Lyrics, both in 1985. Fitzhugh was also an occasional collaborator of Lapine, who notes that Stephen Sondheim was a great fan of her work.

Her additional stage work includes Paradise Found with Richard Nelson co-directed by Harold Prince and Susan Stroman; Herringbone with Tom Cone and Skip Kennon; Muscle with Lapine and William Finn; book and lyrics to Los Otros and The Nine Fathers of Ariel with Michael John LaChiusa.  Her most recent musical was Los Otros, written with LaChiusa, which played Off-Broadway in 2022.

Fitzhugh also wrote the title song for MGM’s That’s Dancing with Larry Grossman and Henry Mancini, and songs for Disney’s The Great Mouse Detective with Grossman and Mancini. She was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1989 for Outstanding Achievement in Music and Lyrics for Shining Time Station on PBS. 

Ms. Fitzhugh is survived by her husband Jeremy, their daughters, and their grandchildren.

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