Composer Ben Weisman authored dozens of songs for Elvis Presley during the King's years in Hollywood, most notably smashes like "Follow That Dream" and "Fame and Fortune." Born in Providence, RI, on November 16, 1921, Weisman studied piano from the age of 13 and later earned a scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music. While he initially aspired to a career as a concert pianist, he instead opted for the relative financial stability of pop, continuing his education under swing legend Teddy Wilson. During World War II, Weisman served as an arranger with an Air Force band, and upon returning stateside he signed on as an accompanist with balladeers Eddie Fisher and Vic Damone. In 1949, he teamed with lyricist Sammy Gallop to launch his professional songwriting career via Dean Martin's "Have a Little Sympathy." Weisman later collaborated with Fred Wise and Kay Twomey for a series of hits, including Nat King Cole's "Mother Nature and Father Time," Guy Mitchell's "Pretty Little Black-Eyed Susie," and Patti Page's "Let Me Go Lover."
He began writing for Presley (who called him "the Mad Professor") in 1956 at the request of music publisher Jean Aberbach, following the ballad "First in Line" with "Got a Lot of Livin' to Do," a highlight of the 1957 feature film Loving You. In all, he composed 57 songs for Presley, more than any other individual writer, although the vast majority were trifles penned for specific scenes in the lowbrow musicals that occupied most of the singer's energy -- "Wooden Heart," "Rock-a-Hula Baby," "Do the Clam," and "He's Your Uncle, Not Your Dad" are merely a representative sample. Weisman also authored hits like Johnny Mathis' "When I Am with You," Brian Hyland's "Warmed Over Kisses (Left Over Love)," and Bobby Vee's "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes." Most notably, Dusty Springfield entered the U.K. Top Ten in 1966 with the devastating "All I See Is You," co-written with Clive Westlake. Another diva, Barbra Streisand, cut Weisman's "Love in the Afternoon" almost a decade later, by which time he was virtually out of the music business. After a debilitating battle with Alzheimer's disease, he died at a Los Angeles long-term care facility on May 20, 2007. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi