George David Weiss was born in Manhattan on April 9, 1921. He wanted to be a musician. His mother wanted him to be a lawyer. The ensuing emotional battle, he later said, drove him to consult a doctor.
As Mr. Weiss recounted in a 1995 interview with The Miami Herald, the prescription was simple. The doctor asked: “Mrs. Weiss, what would you rather have? A live bum of a musician or a dead lawyer?”
In an interview with The Santa Fe New Mexican in 1995, Mr. Weiss described the making of one of his early hits, “Oh! What It Seemed to Be” (1946), written with Mr. Benjamin and Frankie Carle.
After finding a publisher for the song, the writers went in search of a singer. They called on Frank Sinatra, and a nervous young Mr. Weiss played it through for him.
“Before I had finished it Sinatra was on the phone calling the record company and telling them he just heard a great song and wanted to record it,” Mr. Weiss recalled. “You can imagine what happened to me — I froze at the piano. I just kept playing. See, the publisher had told me that no matter what happens, I should keep playing to make sure the tune got into their heads.”
He continued: “So everyone sat down and discussed horses and women and gossip for a half hour or so, and I’m still playing that song at the piano. Finally, the publisher comes over to me, lifts me up under the armpits and says, ‘Say goodbye to Frank.’ I said goodbye and they led me out like a zombie.”