Obviously, EGOTs are on hold right now. At least for Randy Newman, they are. I picture him having surly Zoom meetings with, like, Cher and Julie Andrews. It’s hardly the worst effect of the prolonged closure of the theatres, but it’s still there. I don’t think we have anyone trying for the Oscar to finish up theirs right now, but at least that’s happening. (I do admire Andrews for having rejected a nomination that was clearly aimed at getting her the last award she needed in an otherwise-ignored show.) I don’t know that Randy Newman’s even much trying for one these days, but he’s one of those people where it’s surprising that the Tony is what’s missing.
Still, Newman is a member of probably the most award-winning family in history. His uncles were Alfred, Lionel, and Emil Newman, all Oscar-nominated (or -winning) film composers. His cousins are Thomas, Maria, David, and Joey Newman—not all nominated, but several of them. Among them, the assorted Newmans have 92 Oscar nominations for various music categories, 45 for Uncle Alfred alone. Randy’s win contributes to the family’s total of twelve. He and cousin Thomas have been in direct competition for the award twice; in each case, neither won. Partially because, you know, Thomas has never won.
Both of Randy’s wins come from his fruitful association with Pixar—for “If I Didn’t Have You” from Monsters, Inc. and “We Belong Together,” from Toy Story 3. No few of his other nominations have, too, plus two from The Princess and the Frog. In fact, I think the first song of his I personally heard in a movie was “Burn On,” in Major League, but of course that wasn’t written for the movie and had been written years earlier about the burning of the Cuyahoga River.
Because his charming career as whimsical composer for children’s movies is a bit of a left turn from his history as satirist. He’s written any number of songs that are about the foibles of the US. No one, Newman apparently included, is entirely sure if “I Love LA” is satirical or not. He did an adaptation of Faust wherein the Devil gets a song called “You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down.” And let’s not forget that he contributed songs to Cop Rock. Including of course the notorious “He’s Guilty,” which is why it’s a surprisingly good, if utterly ludicrous, song.
Ethnically, Newman comes from a Jewish family. His parents were nonobservant and raised him, it seems, with no real religious identity. As a teenager, a classmate invited him to take her to a cotillion at her family’s country club. Her father informed him that Jews were not allowed at the country club and disinvited him. Young Randy went home to his parents (his father was a doctor, practically the only non-composer of the family) and asked them what a Jew was.