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Singer-composer Dory Previn dies

image captionDory Previn (l) was married to composer Andre (r) from 1959 to 1970

Dory Previn, the US singer and composer who collaborated with former husband Andre on two Oscar-nominated songs, has died in Massachusetts at the age of 86.

Born Dorothy Veronica Langan in 1925, she began as a lyricist before finding success as a solo artist in the 1970s.

She married Andre Previn in 1959 and worked with him on the theme to 1967's Valley of the Dolls.

After he left her for Mia Farrow, she recorded such albums as On My Way to Where and Mythical Kings and Iguanas.

According to the New York Times, her difficult childhood, divorce from Previn and bouts of mental illness informed her music.

The six albums she released in the 1970s were confessional and confrontational.

Beware Of Young Girls, a track from On My Way To Where, directly addressed Mia Farrow's role in the break-up of her marriage.

media captionJarvis Cocker chose Dory Previn's Lady With the Braid as one of his Desert Island Discs.

"Beware of young girls, who come to the door, wistful and pale, of twenty and four," she sang.

"She was my friend. She was invited to my house," the lyrics continued. "She admired my wedding ring".

Her death on Tuesday at her Southfield farm was confirmed by husband Joby Baker, a Canadian actor she married in 1984.


Dory was born in New Jersey in the 1920s and, after school, attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

She worked as an actress and a dancer until she began writing songs and landed a job at film studio MGM, where she was assigned to work with Andre Previn.

They married in 1959 and were nominated for their first Oscar two years later, for the song Faraway Part of Town, which featured in the film Pepe, starring Mexican comedian Cantinflas.

The pair were nominated again two years later, this time for Second Chance from the Robert Mitchum film Two for the Seesaw.

Outside of cinema, the pair wrote independently for the likes of Doris Day and Jack Jones, while Sammy Davis Junior and Frank Sinatra recorded some of their soundtrack work.

In 1965, Dory Previn suffered a nervous breakdown and was briefly institutionalised, but she continued to work.

This period produced one of her most successful works - the soundtrack to kitsch classic Valley Of The Dolls. The album spent six months in the charts, and the theme song was a top 10 hit for Dionne Warwick.

Following her divorce, in 1970, Previn received a third Oscar nomination for Come Saturday Morning, a song she co-wrote for Alan J Pakula's debut feature Pookie.

Award success came at last in 1983, when she received an Emmy for co-writing the theme song to TV show Two Of A Kind.

Jarvis Cocker is among the modern musicians who have taken inspiration from Previn's soul-baring lyrics.

The Pulp frontman mentioned her in his 2011 book Mother, Brother, Lover and chose her song Lady With the Braid as one of his Desert Island Discs in 2005.

More on this story

  • Conductor Andre Previn to divorce