Don Ray, 79; Composer, Conductor Worked for CBS TV for 30 Years

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Don Ray, 79, a television composer and music supervisor who was nominated for an Emmy for his work on the series “Hawaii Five-O,” died of an infection Saturday at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center.

Ray, a native of Santa Maria, Calif., served in the Navy during World War II and then completed a bachelor’s degree in music at UCLA in 1948, becoming a teaching assistant. Three decades later, he earned a master’s from Cal State Long Beach and returned to music education, creating a film-scoring program for UCLA.

From 1956 to 1986, he worked for CBS television, composing and providing music for such shows as “General Electric Theater,” “Playhouse 90,” “Twilight Zone,” “Rawhide” and “Hawaii Five-O.” He was also a staff conductor for CBS from 1959 to 1963.


An expert on classical music, Ray served as music director from 1965 to 1980 of the COTA Symphony, which specialized in new and rediscovered music. He was a frequent guest conductor with the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra and a staff conductor for the Los Angeles Bureau of Music.

In 1983, Ray wrote the Orchestration Handbook as a reference for composers. In 1986, he helped found the Pacific Composers Forum.