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Award-winning composer Jerry Goldsmith dead at 75
LOS ANGELES -- Academy Award-winning composer Jerry Goldsmith, who created the memorable music for scores of classic movies and television shows ranging from the "Star Trek" and "Planet of the Apes" series to "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." and "Dr. Kildare," has died. He was 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, 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, 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 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.