"Stella by Starlight" is a popular song by Victor Young that was drawn from thematic material composed for the main title and soundtrack of the 1944 Paramount Pictures film, The Uninvited. Appearing in the film's underscore as well as in source music as an instrumental theme song without lyrics, it was turned over to Ned Washington, who wrote the lyrics for it in 1946. The title had to be incorporated into the lyrics, which resulted in its unusual placement: the phrase appears about three quarters of the way through the song, rather than at the beginning or the end.
"Stella by Starlight" is one of the most popular standards, ranked number 10 by the website jazzstandards.com. Its May 1947 recording by Harry James and his orchestra reached the 21st place in the pop charts. Two months later, the recording by Frank Sinatra with Axel Stordahl and his orchestra also rose to the 21st position.
Alto saxophonist Charlie Parker accompanied by a large studio orchestra including strings made the first jazz recording of the song in January 1952. This was followed by a recording by tenor saxophonist Stan Getz in December 1952, trumpeter Chet Baker in 1954. a piano version by Bud Powell, and a rendition by the big band of Stan Kenton, featuring bass trombonist George Roberts. Nat King Cole recorded an instrumental version for his 1955 album The Piano Style of Nat King Cole.
A recording by Miles Davis was included on his 1958 album Jazz Track. Davis revived the song in 1963 performing it live many times through 1965. Other jazz recordings have been made by Earl Grant, Joe Pass, Bill Evans, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Lou Donaldson Charlie Rouse and Dexter Gordon with vocal versions sung by Billy Eckstine, Dick Haymes, Ray Charles, Anita O'Day, Helen Reddy, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, italian singer Mina in 1964 and many others. Al Hirt released a version on his 1961 album, The Greatest Horn in the World. In 1993, guitarist Larry Coryell included the song on his album Fallen Angel.
The Italian-born American tenor/actor Sergio Franchi had strong connections with this romantic ballad. His first venue was the song's performance on Meredith Willson's CBS variety show (Texaco Star Parade) broadcast on June 5, 1964. Franchi then recorded the song on his 1965 RCA Victor album Live at The Coconut Grove. The liner notes for this album stated that Willson was so impressed with Franchi's performance that he (Willson) presented the singer with his copy of Victor Young's original score. Franchi later performed the song on a 1965 broadcast of CBS's The Ed Sullivan Show.
Other appearances in film
- Forever Female (1953), a comedy with Ginger Rogers and William Holden, was also scored by Young, who used the song during a romantic moment.
- The Nutty Professor (1963) with Jerry Lewis singing to Stella Stevens, as well as an upbeat arrangement by Walter Scharf for the film's main titles.
- Sabrina (1995) as part of the track "The Party Sequence"
- Casino (1995) with Robert De Niro and Sharon Stone, performed by Ray Charles
- Bajo las estrellas (2007) covered by Spanish flamenco singer Enrique Morente, starring Alberto San Juan and Emma Suárez
Selections from Victor Young's score for The Uninvited were recorded in 1997 by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William T. Stromberg. The recording was released on CD by Naxos Records, and is available on iTunes.
- "Jazz Standards Songs and Instrumentals (Stella By Starlight)". www.jazzstandards.com. Retrieved 2017-12-15.
- Al Hirt, The Greatest Horn in the World Retrieved April 6, 2013.
- "Email Jazz News". All About Jazz. Archived from the original on 2012-07-19.
- "Fallen Angel overview". Allmusic.com.
- "CBS Wire Photo" released June 15, 1964
- March 28, 1965. http://www.tv.com
- "The Uninvited, Gulliver's Travels, Bright Leaf: Classic Film Scores by Victor Young". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-05-04.
- "Young, V.: Uninvited (The) / Gulliver's Travels (Moscow Symphony Chorus and Orchestra, W.T. Stromberg)". Naxos Records. Retrieved 2016-05-04.
- "The Uninvited: Classic Film Music of Victor Young". iTunes. Retrieved 2016-05-04.
- "Stella by Starlight" at jazzstandards.com
- "Stella by Starlight" Chords, melody, and analysis for jazz guitar
- "Stella by Starlight" cover by Enrique Morente at goear.com
- on YouTube