Herbert Magidson, whose lyrics to "The Continental" won the first Academy Award ever given to a song, has died in Beverly Hills, a spokesman for the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers announced Friday. He was 79 and broke into show business in 1928 when Sophie Tucker hired him to write special material for her.
Magidson's lyrics from the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers film, "The Gay Divorcee," received the first Best Song award in 1934, an honor he shared with composer Con Conrad.
Among Magidson's other hit songs were "Enjoy Yourself, It's Later Than You Think," "Here's to Romance," "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," "Music Maestro Please, "I'll Dance at Your Wedding," and "Linger in My Arms a Little Longer, Baby."
He received Academy Award nominations for two other songs, "Say a Prayer for the Boys Over There" from the 1943 film "Hers to Hold," and "I'll Buy That Dream" from the 1945 film "Sing Your Way Home."
Magidson was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1980. His musical collaborators included Sammy Fain, Jimmy McHugh, Burton Lane, Jule Styne, Ned Washington and Jack Yellen.
He wrote lyrics for such films as "The Great Ziegfeld," "No, No Nanette," and "Here's to Romance" and worked on several Broadway shows including a series of "George White's Scandals," "The Gay White Way" and Michael Todd's "Peep Show."
Magidson is survived by his wife Elsie.