Ira Gershwin was born in New York City, the son of a Russian Jewish immigrant, on December 6, 1896. The older brother of George Gershwin, he attended Townsend Harris High School in New York City where one of his closest friends and fellow students was E.Y. “Yip” Harburg. The two worked together writing lyrics and Ira started his career in 1918 under the pen name of Arthur Francis. It was not until 1924 that Ira and George began a collaboration that would prove one of the most successful and prolific in history.
Their first collaborations were for Broadway: Lady, Be Good! (1924, including Fascinating Rhythm and, although it was cut from the show, The Man I Love), Tip Toes (1925, including Sweet and Low Down), Oh Kay! (1926, including Clap Yo' Hands, Do-Do-Do, Maybe, and Someone To Watch Over Me), Funny Face (1927, including 'S Wonderful), Rosalie (1928, including How Long Has This Been Going On), Show Girl (1929, including Liza), Strike Up the Band (1930, including I've Got A Crush On You and Soon), Girl Crazy (1930, including But Not For Me, Embraceable You, Bidin' My Time, and I Got Rhythm), Delicious (1931, including Blah Blah Blah. ), Of Thee I Sing (1931, the first musical to win the Pulitzer Prize and which included Of Thee I Sing, Love Is Sweeping The Country, and Who Cares).