The dark story behind Debby Boone’s Oscar-winning song ‘You Light Up My Life’
The latest issue of Entertainment Weekly is all about Oscar. From La La Land’s record-tying 14 nominations to the ongoing debate around #OscarsSoWhite, we’re taking a deep dive into everything you need to know before this year’s awards ceremony. But we’re not just focusing on 2017: We’re also looking back at Oscars past, and this year marks the 40th anniversary of one of the most popular Oscar-winning songs of all time, Debby Boone’s “You Light Up My Life.”
Regardless of whether you were even alive when it topped the charts, you’ve heard it: Boone’s romantic ballad from a 1977 summer movie of the same name (starring Didi Conn). “You Light Up My Life” was a certified phenomenon, spending a whopping 10 weeks at the top of the charts and going on to win a Grammy, a Golden Globe, and, finally, an Oscar for Best Original Song. “I can’t say how many weddings I’ve sung that song at,” Boone says now, laughing. “I’ve had a lot of DJs over the years saying, ‘I got so sick of playing that record.'”
But buried beneath the sweetness lay the seeds of horrible crimes. The man who accepted that Oscar in 1978 was former jingle writer Joseph Brooks, who not only composed the song but also wrote and directed the film. Brooks faded into obscurity, never returning to the Oscar stage, but he emerged 30 years later for the darkest of reasons: In June 2009, he was arrested and charged with setting up fake casting calls to sexually assault or rape almost a dozen women.
EW’s latest issue takes a deep dive into the story behind the song, as well as the allegations against Brooks, which span more than 40 years. (Brooks died by suicide in 2011, while still awaiting trial.) To read the full story, pick up this week’s Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands now, or buy it here — and subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.