Life in Elmbridge
On one of his many stays in England, Kern met his future wife, Eva Leale Kern, whilst at The Swan Inn in Walton. She was the daughter of the landlord. After a whirlwind romance they married at the local parish church of St. Mary's, on 25 October 1910.
Life beyond Elmbridge
Born in New York, Kern went on to become one of the most popular composers on the American stage during its golden era at the beginning of the 20th century. During his career he was to compose over 700 songs that were used in more than 100 works, including classic songs such as 'Ol' Man River', as well as musicals, his most popular being 'Show Boat'. Collaborations with lyricists such as P. G. Wodehouse, Guy Bolton, Ira Gershwin, and Dorothy Fields cement Kern's position as one the foremost composers of his generation.
At the time of his marriage and association with Elmbridge, Kern's career was still in its infancy, contributing songs and lyrics mainly to adaptations of West End and European shows that had been taken to Broadway. It is in these early years that he struck up a long-lasting relationship with Wodehouse.
Throughout his career, Kern moved seamlessly between Broadway and Hollywood, gaining success in both the theatre and the cinema. After the successes of 'Sunny' and 'Sally', 'Show Boat' came to embody all that was popular with both musical theatre and more specifically Kern's style. The score is arguably Kern's greatest with classics such as 'Ol' Man River' and 'Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man', and while many of Kern's musicals have been forgotten except for their songs, 'Show Boat' remains a well-remembered and endearing inclusion to Kern's repertoire.
Kern was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, twice winning the award for Best Original Song in 1936 and 1941. The awards did not end there however, Kern received a posthumous induction into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 1970.