John Waldo “Johnny” Green (10 October 1908 – 15 May 1989) was an American songwriter, composer, musical arranger, conductor and pianist. He was given the nickname “Beulah” by colleague Conrad Salinger. His most famous song was one of his earliest, “Body and Soul”. Green won four Academy Awards for his film scores and a fifth for producing a short musical film, and he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972.
Green wrote a number of songs which have become jazz standards, including “Out of Nowhere” and “Body and Soul”. He wrote the scores for various films and TV programs.
His earliest songs appeared with the billing “John W. Green,” a styling he reverted to in the 1960s. After that anyone addressing “Johnny” was put right with the statement, “You can call me John – or you can call me Maestro!”
At the beginning of his musical career, he arranged for dance orchestras, most notably Jean Goldkette on NBC. He was accompanist/arranger to musicians such as James Melton, Libby Holman and Ethel Merman. It was while writing material for Gertrude Lawrence in 1930 that he composed “Body and Soul”, the first recording of which was made by Jack Hylton & His Orchestra eleven days before the song was copyrighted.
Between 1930 and 1933, Green was the arranger and conductor for Paramount Pictures and worked with singers Ethel Merman, Gertrude Lawrence and James Melton.
Green composed many of his hit standards during the 1930s, including “Out of Nowhere” (1931, co-authored with Edward Heyman), “Rain Rain Go Away” (1932), “I Cover the Waterfront”, “You’re Mine You”, “I Wanna Be Loved” (all 1933), “Easy Come Easy Go” and “Repeal The Blues” (both 1934). He also composed the theme for Max Fleischer’s Betty Boop cartoons in 1932, with Edward Heyman as lyricist.
After 1933, Green had his own orchestra which he used to perform around the country. He also, until 1940, conducted orchestras for the Jack Benny and Philip Morris records and radio shows.
Green was a respected board member of ASCAP. He was a chairman of the music branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, leading the orchestra through 17 of the Academy Award telecasts, and a producer of television specials.