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July 23, 2004
Oscar- and Emmy-winner was among the giants of film music
by Jon Burlingame

Jerry Goldsmith, an Oscar and multiple Emmy winner and one of the most respected composers in film for more than 40 years, died Wednesday night, July 21, at his home in Beverly Hills, California, after a long battle with cancer. He was 75.
Goldsmith Conducting
© Copyright 1995 by Matthew Peak, courtesy of Varese Sarabande

Goldsmith's music accompanied such landmark films as Chinatown, Patton, Planet of the Apes, The Sand Pebbles and A Patch of Blue as well as more recent hits like Basic Instinct, L.A. Confidential and Air Force One. His final score was for last year's Warner Bros. comedy Looney Tunes: Back in Action.

He was long associated with the Star Trek franchise, scoring five of the big-screen features beginning with Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979. The movie theme became, at creator Gene Roddenberry's insistence, the theme for TV's Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1987. He also composed the theme for TV's Star Trek: Voyager in 1995.

Goldsmith's sole Oscar win was for his orchestral-and-choral score for the 1976 horror film The Omen. He received 17 other nominations between 1962 (Freud) and 1998 (Mulan). He also won five Emmys for his television scores, including the miniseries QB VII and Masada, the TV-movies The Red Pony and Babe, and the Voyager theme. He was born in Los Angeles on February 10, 1929, and attended L.A. City College and USC; at USC he took classes with Miklos Rozsa, whose music he had so admired in Spellbound. He studied music privately with Jakob Gimpel and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and in 1950 got a job at CBS – at first typing scripts but eventually composing music for live radio and TV programs.

Goldsmith's early credits included some of TV's legendary dramatic anthologies, including Climax! and Playhouse 90. He went on to compose music for filmed TV including The Twilight Zone, Perry Mason, Have Gun—Will Travel and Thriller.

He wrote the themes for more than a dozen TV series including Dr. Kildare (which, in a vocal version by star Richard Chamberlain, was a top-10 hit in 1962), The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Room 222, The Waltons, Barnaby Jones and Police Story.

Goldsmith's first film score was for the 1957 western Black Patch. His first major studio assignment was for Universal's Lonely Are the Brave in 1962. By the time he won his Oscar for The Omen, he was one of the busiest composers in the business, scoring an average of four or five films a year.

He wrote more than 170 motion picture scores, establishing long professional relationships with such directors as Franklin Schaffner (Planet of the Apes, Patton), Robert Wise (The Sand Pebbles, the first Star Trek), John Frankenheimer (Seven Days in May, Seconds), Joe Dante (Gremlins), Paul Verhoeven (Total Recall, Basic Instinct), Michael Crichton (Coma, The Great Train Robbery), Fred Schepisi (The Russia House), David Anspaugh (Hoosiers) and others.

He became well-known as an action-adventure specialist, scoring The Mummy (1999) and all three Rambo films beginning with First Blood in 1982, although he often said he preferred scoring smaller personal dramas like A Patch of Blue (1965), Islands in the Stream (1977) or Rudy (1993).

Goldsmith was an acknowledged master of science-fiction and fantasy scores, beginning with Planet of the Apes (1968) whose Bartok- and Stravinsky-inspired approach is now widely admired and even studied at the university level. The music of Alien (1979) was even more complex, dissonant and frightening.

When his charming, buoyant score for Legend (1985) was thrown out by Universal execs during re-editing, the music itself became a cause celebre, spawning a CD and ultimately reinstatement on the DVD (along with the Tangerine Dream score that initially replaced it). His other acclaimed genre scores included Poltergeist (1982) and Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983).

He also penned music for 20 TV-movies and miniseries and more than 100 episodes of various TV series (mostly in the late '50s and '60s).

In addition to his Oscar and Emmys, Goldsmith received nine Golden Globe nominations and seven Grammy nominations. He received performing-rights organization BMI's lifetime achievement award in 1986; the career achievement award of the Society for the Preservation of Film Music in 1993; and Daily Variety's first American Music Legend Award in 1995.

Goldsmith's non-film assignments included "Fanfare for Oscar," which the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences commissioned in 1998 and which now heralds every Oscar telecast; and music for a theme-park ride, "Soarin' Over California" for Disney's California Adventure in 2001.

For the concert hall, he composed a cantata, "Christus Apollo" with a text by author Ray Bradbury, in 1969; "Music for Orchestra," debuted by the St. Louis Symphony in 1970 and performed by the L.A. Philharmonic in 1998; and "Fireworks: A Celebration of Los Angeles" which he conducted at the Hollywood Bowl in 1999 as part of a 70th birthday celebration. He recorded all three works with the London Symphony Orchestra for a Telarc CD in 2000.

In recent years, he conducted concerts of his own music in venues around the world, including New York's Carnegie Hall in 1998. He also conducted the National Symphony in Washington, D.C., the Pittsburgh Symphony, and orchestras in London, Spain and Japan. Beginning in 1992, he also taught master classes at UCLA as a Regents Professor and Visiting Professor.

Survivors include his wife of 32 years, Carol; their son Aaron; four children by a previous marriage, Ellen Edson of Hinsdale, N.H., Carrie Goldsmith of Swanzey, N.H., Joel Goldsmith of Encino and Jennifer Grossman of North Hollywood; six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Jerry Goldsmith Scholarship Fund for Film Music Composition c/o UCLA School of the Arts, Dean's Office, Box 951427, Los Angeles, CA 90095; or to the Jerry Goldsmith Memorial Fund for Cancer Research c/o Tower Cancer Research Foundation, 9090 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212.

© 2004 Variety, Reprinted by permission

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