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April 25, 2003
Small-screen Music Greats Hagen, Mizzy Honored
by Jon Burlingame

Two giants of 1960s television music were honored during the past few days: Earle Hagen (The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show) and Vic Mizzy (The Addams Family, Green Acres).

On Saturday, April 19, Earle Hagen received a Golden Palm on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars. About 75 onlookers attended the ceremony, which featured a number of Palm Springs dignitaries and Los Angeles friends including BMI vice president Doreen Ringer Ross and Hagen protegé, Emmy-winning composer Bruce Babcock.

Hagen's music – which includes the indelible themes for Griffith and Van Dyke as well as I Spy, The Mod Squad, That Girl, The Mod Squad and The Danny Thomas Show – was played during the proceedings. (Unfortunately, Palm Springs officials misspelled Hagen's last name as "Hagan" but promised to correct the embarrassing error this week.)

At a private party for friends and family following the dedication, musicians launched into Hagen's most famous work: "Harlem Nocturne," which he wrote in 1939 for Ray Noble's big band and which eventually became the theme for Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, the Stacy Keach private-eye series of the 1980s.

Hagen's career and music are back in the limelight courtesy of his recently published autobiography, Memoirs of a Famous Composer Nobody Ever Heard Of (XLibris Books), and the original soundtrack for I Spy (on the Film Score Monthly label). BMI is expected to schedule a book- and record-signing for Hagen in Los Angeles later this year.

Vic Mizzy was honored on Monday, April 21, by the Songwriters Guild of America at a dinner attended by nearly 100 at Lunaria Restaurant in Los Angeles.

Dozens of friends and colleagues attended, including fellow composers Benny Carter, Joe Harnell, Ray Evans, Van Alexander, Arthur Hamilton and Ulpio Minucci, as well as musicians Mike Lang and Frank Capp. Seated next to Mizzy were his wife Shirley and his longtime music editor Dave Kahn (who wrote a famous TV theme of his own, Leave It to Beaver).

After dinner, musical tributes were offered by several colleagues, among them L.A. session guitarist Del Casher (a frequent performer on Mizzy's film and TV scores), Harnell, Lang and Evans. SGA president Rick Carnes presented Mizzy with the Guild's President's Award.

Mizzy's music is also enjoying a resurgence of interest, thanks to a series of promotional CDs on Percepto Records featuring The Night Walker, double bills of The Busy Body/The Spirit Is Willing and The Caper of the Golden Bulls/The Perils of Pauline, as well as a collection of Mizzy's title tunes called Suites and Themes.

The prize of the evening (given to each attendee) was a limited-edition 12-song CD of Mizzy singing his own tunes called Songs for the Jogging Crowd – many of them recent compositions including a hilarious Hollywood-in-crowd ditty "Name Dropping" and several others ranging from the amusing "Dance, Granny, Dance" to the poignant "When Your Dreams Are Younger Than You." Also included on the CD are his two most famous TV signature themes, "Green Acres" (with Mizzy overdubbing Eddie Albert) and "The Addams Family" (which Mizzy actually sang himself over the main titles of the classic '60s sitcom).

More information on these TV music legends can be found at http://www.earlehagen.net and http://www.vicmizzy.com.

© 2003 Jon Burlingame

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