McHugh did not share the same theatrical background as Dorothy Fields; his father owned a plumbing business, for which the young McHugh worked for a while. He moved on to working as a songplugger for publishing companies, and after a move to New York started writing songs for the Harlem Cotton Club revues. His first big hit was When My Sugar Walks Down the Street.
In 1927, Jimmy met Dorothy Fields. They were apparently an odd couple, McHugh a brash salesman and Dorothy a rather shy young lady. However they were soon producing splendid material, which found a wide audience through McHugh's established links with the Cotton Club and Broadway. Their first full score together for Blackbirds of 1928 included I Can't Give You Anything But Love and I Must Have That Man. Further success followed and at the end of 1929, the pair moved to Hollywood to work for Warner Brothers.
For the next six years McHugh and Fields contributed songs to several unmemorable movies, none of which were film musicals. They also made regular forays back to Broadway revues. An article in Popular Songs interviewed the pair shortly before their partnership ended in 1935; Deborah Grace Winer suggests that although there was no antagonism between the pair, they never developed a close personal relationship.
McHugh remained based in Hollywood for the rest of his life. In 1936 he started writing music with Harold Adamson. Adamson and McHugh wrote a great many songs for the Deanna Durbin films and for other Hollywood pictures. Their hits included You're a Sweetheart, I Couldn't Sleep a Wink Last Night and Coming In On A Wing and A Prayer.
McHugh also collaborated with the lyricists Ted Koehler, Frank Loesser and Al Dubin.
For more information on Jimmy McHugh, visit the Tunesmiths Database : Jimmy McHugh