Songwriter Abel Meeropol Dies at Age 83

From Times Wire Services

Private services were held Friday for songwriter Abel Meeropol, who wrote under the name Louis Allan and who 30 years ago adopted the sons of convicted atomic spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. He died Wednesday at 83.

Meeropol wrote for stage, screen and radio. He composed the song “Strange Fruit,” which was about lynchings in the South and became a Billie Holiday hit. He also wrote the words for “The House I Live In,” the patriotic film short that won an Academy Award in 1945.

He wrote plays and operas. He was the librettist for the opera “The Good Soldier Schweik,” based on a Czechoslovakian anti-war novel.

He and his wife, Anne, who died in 1973, took in Robert and Michael Rosenberg after the boys’ parents were executed in 1953. The Meeropols formally adopted them in 1957. Michael, now 43, is an economics professor at Western New England College in Springfield, Mass. Robert Meeropol, 39, is a Springfield lawyer.


Abel Meeropol was born in the Bronx, was graduated from City College of New York and obtained a master of arts degree from Harvard in 1926. He was a high school English teacher in the Bronx until 1944, when he turned to songwriting full time.

In addition to his two adopted sons, he leaves four grandchildren.