Abel Meeropol

Abel Meeropol (February 10, 1903 - October 30, 1986) was an American writer best known under his pseudonym Lewis Allan and as the adoptive father of the young sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.


He wrote the anti-lynching poem Strange Fruit which he subsequently set to music. The song was performed by Billie Holiday. Billie Holiday (or rather her ghostwriter) claimed, in Lady Sings the Blues, that she cowrote the music to the song with Meeropol and Sonny White, but in fact, Meeropol was the sole writer of both lyrics and melody to this haunting plea for civil rights.

Meeropol was the writer of countless poems and songs, including the Frank Sinatra hit The House I Live In. He taught at DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, and on the side was an ardent, but closet, Communist. Meeropol chose to write as Lewis Allan in memory of the names of his two stillborn children.

Later, he and his wife Anne adopted Julius and Ethel Rosenberg's two sons, Michael and Robert, after their parents' executions.

According to Robert Meeropol, "Strange Fruit", "The House I Live In" and the Peggy Lee hit "Apples, Peaches and Cherries" provided most of the royalty income of the family. The latter especially after it had been translated into French by Sacha Distel (French Folksinger and sometime boyfriend of Brigitte Bardot). The resulting number one hit in France "Scoubidou" still earns Michael and Robert Meeropol royalties, however, these only started coming in after Distel and Abel Meeropol settled a copyright infringement law suit over Distel's plagiarism.

He died on October 30, 1986 at the Jewish Nursing Home in Longmeadow, Massachusetts.


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