Date of Birth: 1929
Place of Birth: Birmingham, Alabama
When you listen to "West Side Story" and the character Tony, played by Richard Beymer, singing such Leonard Bernstein-Stephen Sondheim gems as "Something's Coming," "Somewhere" and "Maria" you'll actually be hearing Birmingham native Jimmy Bryant. In 1961 when the movie was released, Bryant was the "ghost singer" for that role.
At that time no screen credit or credit on the soundtrack album was given but the new remastered CD and DVD have finally given Mr. Bryant credit for his work.
Years later, Bryant sang for James Fox in the Julie Andrews musical comedy "Thoroughly Modern Millie."
His most famous unknown credit, however, is probably the theme song to the old "Batman" TV series.
Bryant, who grew up in Tarrant and attended Birmingham-Southern College and the Birmingham Conservatory of Music, went to New York in 1953, where he worked as a background singer.
Three years later, he made the move to Los Angeles and played bass in the house band a Puccini's, the Beverly Hills restaurant owned by Frank Sinatra.
Bryant met the musical supervisor for "West Side Story" and after several rounds of auditions, he got the gig dubbing Beymer's voice.
Bryant was more interested in composing and arranging than ghost singing. He became friends with Oscar-winning composer John Williams, with whom he worked on the movies "Not With My Wife, You Don't!" and "Penelope" and the TV series "Lost in Space."
At 73 Bryant composes the piped-in music heard at theme parks, including Tokyo Disneyland and Disney World in Orlando.
From an article in
by Bob Carlton
Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame
Jimmy Bryant (born James Howard Bryant, June 2, 1929) is a singer, arranger and composer. He is most well-known for providing the singing voice of Tony (played onscreen by Richard Beymer) in the 1961 film musical West Side Story. While he received no screen credit, he states that Beymer was "a nice guy, and every time he did an interview he would mention my name."He also sang for James Fox in the 1967 film musical Thoroughly Modern Millie, and sang in "The Telephone Hour" number in Bye Bye Birdie. He also sang in the group that performed the theme song of the TV series Batman.
Bryant was born in Birmingham, Alabama and grew up in Tarrant, Alabama. He attended Birmingham Southern College and the Birmingham Conservatory of Music before receiving a Scholarship in Composition at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. He then moved to New York in 1953 where he worked as a background singer. He later moved to Los Angeles and played bass in the house band at Puccini's, a Beverly Hills restaurant owned by Frank Sinatra.
His work as an orchestrator includes the movies Not with My Wife, You Don't!, Penelope and the TV series Lost in Space. He also composed music heard at Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland.
Bryant also scored the music for numerous radio and television commercials for clients such as Lone Star beer, Tecate and Chrysler Imports.
He was a friend of Jimmy Bryant, the famous guitar player, with whom he is often confused!