Composer Jerry Goldsmith dies at 75

Goldsmith died in his sleep Wednesday night at his Beverly Hills home
after a long battle with cancer, said Lois Carruth, his personal
assistant.

A classically trained composer and conductor who began musical studies
at age 6, Goldsmith’s award-dappled Hollywood career — he was
nominated for 17 Academy Awards (news – web sites), won one, and also
took home five Emmys — spanned nearly half a century.

He
crafted an astonishing number of TV and movie scores that have become
classics in their own right. From the clarions of “Patton” to the
syrupy theme for TV’s “The Waltons,” Goldsmith sometimes seemed
virtually synonymous with soundtracks.

He took on action hits
such as “Total Recall,” which he considered one of his best scores, as
well as the “Star Trek” movies and more lightweight fare, like his most
recent movie theme, for last year’s “Looney Tunes: Back in Action.” His
hundreds of works included scores for “The Blue Max,” “L.A.
Confidential,” “Basic Instinct” and “Chinatown.”

Goldsmith’s
output also spilled into television, with the themes for shows
including “Dr. Kildare,” “Barnaby Jones” and “Star Trek: The Next
Generation.” He also wrote a fanfare that is used in Academy Awards
telecasts.

He won his Oscar for best original score in 1976
for “The Omen.” He also earned five Emmy Awards and was nominated for
nine Golden Globe awards (news – web sites), though he never won one.

“He could write anything. He did Westerns, comedies,” Carruth said. “He
preferred writing for more character-driven, quiet films but somehow
they kept coming back to him for the action films.”

Born Feb.
10, 1929 in Los Angeles, Goldsmith studied with famed pianist Jacob
Gimpel and pianist, composer and film musician Mario
Castelnuovo-Tedesco. He fell in love with movie composing when he saw
the 1945 Ingrid Bergman (news) movie “Spellbound,” Carruth said, and
while attending the University of California took classes with Miklos
Rozsa, who wrote the Oscar-winning score for that film.

In
1950, he got a job as a clerk typist at CBS and eventually got
assignments for live radio shows, writing as much as one score a week.
He later turned to television.

In the late 1950s he began
composing for movies. His career took off in the 1960s with such major
films as “Lonely Are the Brave” and “The Blue Max.” He earned his first
Academy Award nomination for his work on 1962’s “Freud.”

Goldsmith was know for his versatility and his experimentation. He
added electronics to the woodwinds and brasses of his scores. For
1968’s “Planet of the Apes,” he got a blaring effect by having his
musicians blow horns without mouthpieces. With a puckish sense of
humor, he reportedly wore an ape mask while conducting the score.

“He experimented a lot and that’s what made him so popular with his
fans,” Carruth said. “When he wrote, he got inside of the characters
and he wrote what he felt they were thinking and feeling.”

Some of his motion picture scores were adapted for ballets. Goldsmith
also wrote composed orchestral pieces and taught occasional music
classes at local universities.

He is survived by his wife,
Carol; children Aaron, Joel, Carrie, Ellen Edson and Jennifer Grossman,
six grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

Todd Lipska

Todd's geekiness started off early with his family's first computer: a TRS-80. As a contributing writer, head photographer, lead programmer and one of the founders of Media Geeks, well, suffice it to say, he's a busy guy.

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