NOTE: About the term "Mood Music". This was the original term used to
refer to "Cue Music" or "Production Music" from music libraries which
started by British publishers, and music scoring services in
Hollywood during the 1950s. Tracks from these libraries were used to
underscore film and television shows which could not afford original
scoring, especially in the early days of television. The libraries
charged a "needle-drop" fee for using each cut, or a "blanket
license" to use as many cuts as producers wanted within a
Since the pieces were used over and over, either in several episodes,
or in several different TV series, they sometimes became quite
familiar to the viewer. This was especially true in the case of
pieces used behind the main titles, or end credits.
Consequently, viewers might inquire about obtaining copies of the
piece. Although libraries discouraged collectors from getting copies
since it was not yielding profit for the library, if enough of the
general public wanted a piece, it might find its way into a
This happened in Britain with Robert Farnon's "Jumping Bean" and
several other pieces of light music. It happened in the US with a few
tunes like "Game of the Week March" by Joseph Mullendore and other
tunes which began as library tracks. As mood music composers are
being discovered by the public hungry for quality light music, more
CDs are being re-issued to feature such composers. This has already
happened with Robert Farnon, Roger Roger, and others listed
Many of the composers listed below provided music for the same
television series in the early 1950s when more than one number of
libraries may have been the source of music for a given series.
Consequently, the same names and the same shows may be mentioned in
listings for several composers. But the main title themes were
usually composed by only one person, whereas several people might
have written episode scores during the course of a series.
Charles Williams (May 8, 1893 - September 7, 1978)
was born Isaac Cozerbreit in London, England. Isaac studied at
the prestigious Royal Academy of Music. As it was the custom for
people with Jewish-sounding names, he took a professional, very
British-sounding name, Charles Williams as his nom de plume.
(Note: This Charles Williams (1893 - 1978) is NOT to be confused
with American character actor Charles B. Williams who worked at
Paramount Studios in the 1920s and 1930s on such pictures as
"Alexander's Ragtime Band", "Doll Face" and "It's a Wonderful Life."
Nor should he be confused with an older British composer Charles Lee
Williams who wrote the choral ode "To Music.")
After college, his professional career was unfortunately delayed
by the horror known as World War I -- "The War To End All Wars."
Fortunately he returned alive from his soldiering experiences, and
began a multi-faceted career as a conductor and composer.
Film music offerred opportunities for up-and-coming British
composers like Williams who seemed to be at the right place at the
right time. In his late twenties which much musical gifts and
background, but not requiring the high salaries of more experienced
composers just as "the talkies" began, he got a chance to score
Alfred Hitchcock's first 1929 film "Blackmail" which was the first
British sound motion picture.
Four years later in 1933, he was hired as a staff composer at the
large British studio Gaumont which had produced Hitchcock films. He
scored the 1935 Hitchcock classic "The 39 Steps", and several comedy
films starring the popular British music-hall comedy star Will
In 1941, Williams began a fruitful association with Chappell Music
publishers who had started a Recorded Music Library division that
same year to produce "mood music" tracks to score films and early
radio dramas. Williams contributed a number of early works for that
library which were heard during the early days of British and U.S.
television. In fact Williams reputation as a Mood Music composer
seems to be the one which stuck, despite his contributions to several
filmscores which became known worldwide and his long association as a
conductor of Light Music.
Williams conducted a series of Light Music concerts (similar to
American "Summer Pops Concerts") at London's Queens Hall. Some of his
recordings were distributed on the Columbia label in the United
States He recorded music under the name "Charles Williams and his
Concert Orchestra" and with "The Queens Hall Orchestra" for the
Chappell Recorded Music Library.
Many of his Chappell Recorded Music Library compositions and
recordings became well-known. One of the most famous was the THEME
for a British radio detective series called "Dick Barton--Special
Agent" which used Williams' Chappell library composition "The Devil's
Galop" as its THEME. Another daily radio show known as "Morning
Music" used his "Rhythm On Rails." And the show "Jennings At School"
used his piece "The Old Clockmaker." His "Voice Of London" was a BBC
Signature tune for broadcasts of the Queens Hall Orchestra. And the
first of his "Five Fanfares" was a logo signature fanfare for the
British "ITV" network.
In the United States, "Royal Command" [aka: "Royal Pride"]
was an early TV network news theme used for "The Huntley-Brinkley
Report" on NBC. Other Williams compositions familiar to world-wide
afficianados of Mood Music are "They Ride By Night", "Follow That
Car", "With Majesty and Dignity", "The Challenge" and "Romantic
Also in 1941 Williams scored a motion picture based upon the H. G.
Wells novel "Kipps", which received acclaim in Europe. In the U.S.
the film was known as "The Remarkable Mr. Kipps."
It should not be forgotten that back in 1938 Williams also
contributed to a score for the Alfred Hitchcock film "The Lady
Vanishes" in collaboration with Louis Levy, by writing a haunting
Title Theme featuring a piano. This piece he co-wrote with Levy was
recorded commercially, and foreshadowed a successful film music style
Williams used in two subsequent films which would spread his melodies
In 1947 Williams scored a WW II war drama film "While I Live." The
score included a romantic concerto-like melody featuring the piano,
which became so popular it ended up a worldwide Light Music hit --
selling 250,000 copies of sheet music, and numerous recordings --
called "The Dream Of Olwen." In the United States, this piece became
the THEME song for the long-running prestigious series "The Hallmark
Hall of Fame."
In 1949 he followed up this hit with another -- the title Theme
for a motion picture called "Jealous Lover" in Britain, and known as
"The Apartment" in the United States. His "Jealous Lover/Theme from
The Apartment (vocal title: The Key To Love)" was also a broad
romantic melody, often recorded featuring a piano with orchestra.
In recent times, Williams THEMEs have become more well-known to
world-wide audiences of British Light Music, Mood Music, and Film
Scores. He also is credited with having been a pioneer who inspired
later composers of British Light Music and Worldwide Mood Music who
He died at the age of 85 in 1978.
Recommended motion picture themes and mood music compositions of
- Royal Command [aka: "Royal Pride"] from the Chappell
Recorded Music Library (1943)
- The Dream Of Olwen, from the film "While I Live"
[re-issued as: "The Dream Of Olwen"] (1947)
- Theme from "The Apartment" [aka: "Jealous Lover"; vocal
title "The Key To Love"] (1949)
Roger Roger (August 5, 1911 - June 12, 1995)
(pronounced "Ro-ZHAY Ro-ZHAY") was born in Rouen, France. His
father, opera conductor Edmond Roger had been a classmate of Claude
Debussy at the Paris Conservatoire. He whimsically gave his son the
same first and last name, which may have not been such a source of
humor to the boy growing up. Edmond taught his son music theory at an
early age, so that by the time Roger was 18, he was leading his own
little group playing pop tunes.
As a young man, Roger had a subscription to a sheet music service
which brought the latest pop tunes from America. So he had the chance
to dissect and analyze the latest tunes by his idols George Gershwin,
Jerome Kern, and Cole Porter. He also studied the classical works of
his favorite "serious" composers Ravel and Stravinsky.
When he began composing, he dabbled in writing piano pieces and a few
popular songs published by Editions Salabert in Paris. He also was
given a chance to score a few French films, but nothing that spread
his name far and wide.
Roger began his media music career in French radio, leading a
35-piece orchestra for various shows in 1946. He accompanied the big
stars of Edith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier, etc. He also composed pieces
for radio shows. This attracted the attention of the Chappell Music
Company in London, which hired him as the first French composer to
write for their Mood Music library in 1955. He composed 15-20 albums
of music for Chappell between 1955 and 1964.
Later he wrote mood music for the Canadian firm of Parry Publishing,
and the French mood music wing of Francis, Day & Hunter. At the
same time he contributed pieces to Thomas J. Valentino, Inc. of
New York -- who recorded them on the "Major Records" mood music
label, and filed them for copyright in groups, as for example:
"Romantic Interlude; a musical score consisting of 31 compositions
for orchestra"...Thomas J. Valentino, New York; 28Apr55; EP 89245.
Some of his pieces were re-workings of older pieces with alternate
titles; The piece he called "Metropolitan Rhapsody" for Valentino
was similar to "Gershwinesque No. 2". For Chappell Mood Music he
used the pseudonym Cecil Leuter when writing electronic music, or
other music that used less than a full orchestra. (Leuter was his
Mother's maiden name.)
A melody he wrote attracted the attention of vocalist Nat King Cole,
who hired lyricist Julie Mandel to add words to the tune. It was
released as "Back In My Arms" recorded by Nat King Cole in 1958.
The British television series "The Prisoner" used several of Roger's
pieces in scoring various episodes.
Roger Roger retired from the music business in the 1970s; He passed
away in the resort town of Deauville, France in June of 1995 two months
before his 84th birthday.
Recommended mood music compositions of Roger Roger:
- Metropolitan Rhapsody (aka: Gershwinesque No. 2), by Roger
- Broadway Opening [North American title], by Roger
- New Horizons [North American title], by Roger
Ronald Hanmer (February 2, 1917 - May 23, 1994)
was born in Surrey, England. And his name is not supposed to be
spelled "Hammer"; it's really "Han-mer." As a young man he played
piano for theatricals, and the cinema organ. After service in the
Royal Air Force, he found a job arranging for a popular British radio
show called "ITMA (It's That Man Again)." He started writing Mood
Music when Francis, Day & Hunter (FDH) began their library in
1947. For many years, he was a frequent contributor to several
British Mood Music (production music) libraries of the late 1940's
and early 1950's. It is estimated he composed over 700 pieces which
have appeared in such libraries.
Ron also wrote arrangements for popular London orchestras, including
Edmundo Ros, who recorded several of them on his Phase-4 Stereo
albums. Despite doing all of the above,Ron also found time to
orchestrate theatre music for musical comedies appearing on the
London Stage. In 1975 he left England, presumably to "retire to
Australia." But within two years he had organized a 50-piece string
orchestra in his home town of Brisbane, Australia to perform light
Most everyone in Great Britain knows his cue "Changing Moods No. 2",
written for the Francis, Day & Hunter (FDH) Music Library, as it
was used as the main title theme of the popular British detective
series "P.C. 49". American audiences will recognize it as a
tongue-in-cheek background cue theme used in the 1950's Superman TV
show, and other early syndicated TV series. This piece was
melodically related to (used the same motif as) a more serious MOOD
cue called "Menace", heard frequently on the "Superman" TV series as
well as other dramatic TV shows throughout the 1950s.
His composition "City Desk", also written for Francis, Day &
Hunter, included a section which was the quintessential TV News
Theme, looped as an introduction to news broadcasts on several radio
and TV networks across the world, in the early 1950s through the
1960's, including the CBS radio network in the U.S.
His composition "Pastorale" was the theme for the long-running
Australian Radio serial "Blue Hills", and it was commercially
released in 1994 on a CD called "Music For a Country Cottage" from
Mr. Hanmer passed away in 1994.
Recommended mood music compositions by Ronald Hanmer:
- City Desk (1946)
- Menace (aka: "Where Danger Lurks") (1946)
- Changing Moods No. 2 (aka: "The P.C. 49 Theme") (1947)
- Pastorale (1947)
Sandor ("Alexander") Laszlo (November 22, 1895 - November 17,
was born in Budapest, Hungary as Sandor ("San") Totis. As a child his
mother tied his leg to the piano bench to ensure he practiced his
piano lessons. But apparently this did not damage him emotionally,
for he grew to love music (and remained quite fond of his mother.)
Although born in Hungary, he actually grew up in Germany. He became a
precocious pianist (called a prodigy at that time and compared to
Liszt) and took the professional name of Alexander Laszlo. Apparently
his choice of a professional name was an homage to one of the most
successful Hungarian-born men in Europe -- the film producer
Alexander Laszlo Korda who made his mark producing films in Britain
and the United States.
Laszlo was also an orchestra conductor. He composed his first
published classical pieces (mostly chamber pieces for violin and
piano or piano solo.) These pieces were published by companies in
Hungary, Switzerland, and Leipzig, Germany.
In Germany, he was also to write film music ("Kinotheken"). Of course
at that time, in the "teens" and 1920s, film music was made to
accompany so-called "silent" films. But they were never projected in
silence. They used incidental music by composers such as Erno Rapee,
Hans Erdmann, Giuseppe Becce, and Alexander Laszlo. It was in this
context that Laszlo developed a theory of the relationship of color
to music called "Farblichtmusik" (meaning "color-light-music"), and
gave piano concerts to audiences as early as 1925 with projected
colored light, demonstrating his theory.
Laszlo found work in Germany scoring sound films. But the Nazi regime
was showing its true colors preparing for war. So, in 1938, Laszlo
immigrated to the United States, settling at first in Chicago, and
then in upstate New York. In both areas he found work as a music
teacher at various music schools while he pursued re-establishing his
fledgling career as a composer in the United States.
In 1943 he got the chance to move West and write film music for low
budget Paramount and Republic Pictures. His film scoring assignments
of B-pictures including "One Body Too Many" (1944), "Follow That
Woman" (1945), "Scared Stiff" (1945), "The Great Flamarion" (1945),
"French Key" (1946), "Joe Palooka, Champ" (1946), "Glass Alibi"
(1946), "One Exciting Night" (1945), and "The Spiritualist" aka: "The
Amazing Mr. X" (1948) among others. He also scored several episodes
of a serial which featured a dog named "Pal."
Later he was to write scores for industrial films (for example, a
promotional film called "Dodge '56", and a training film called
"Narcotics", used to train police forces), as well as later
low-budget horror and science fiction films. A total of 53 industrial
and B-picture films and serials were scored during his "American"
period. But it was in the new medium of U.S. Television where he was
to make his lasting mark.
His broadcasting work actually began with a radio show, which was to
appear later on TV. He provided the live orchestra and music for the
Ralph Edwards series "This Is Your Life" -- which appeared first on
radio in 1948, and then in 1952 on TV. Both radio and TV versions
used Laszlo's original Theme, a lovely sentimental tune, and various
short cues Laszlo either arranged from pop or standard tunes or
composed for a particular mood (later he recylced his original cues
in his production music library.) On liner notes for an LP album of
the "This Is Your Life" TV series, Ralph Edwards thanked his TV
Composer-Conductor Von Dexter for the music, but unfortunately
Alexander Laszlo -- who had composed cues for the radio series, and
the Main Theme used on both radio and TV -- was not credited on the
liner notes (just the label.)
(As the result of Laszlo having written the radio THEME which was
also used on the "This Is Your Life" TV series, some sources have
thought that Laszlo and Dexter were the same person, or that Von
Dexter was a pseudonym for Alexander Laszlo. This is incorrect. Von
Dexter was a conductor who often worked with Laszlo, but Dexter was
born in Chicago as LaVon Hawley Urbanski. We verified these facts
with living relatives of both Laszlo and Dexter.)
Laszlo's second radio/TV series was "Dupont Cavalcade of America",
which had been on radio since 1935. Apparently Laszlo's music was
used starting in 1952 on both the radio and TV versions of this
series, which was also sometimes known as "Dupont Cavalcade."
The period of the late 1940s - early 1950s found U.S. television
networks expanding rapidly. TV networks were linking the East and
West coasts with a cable for live pictures, which they eventually
completed in 1952. Many low-budget series for television were being
syndicated on film, or provided on film to networks. In 1949, Laszlo
was 54. But he saw the possibilities inherent in scoring for the
infant TV medium, especially for those low-budget film producers. He
realized the low budget productions of this new medium needed a
creative approach. So around 1949-50, Laszlo put together two music
libraries marketed to radio and television producers and syndicators.
He could provide themes and cues at a low cost, in exchange for the
rights of re-use.
So his two libraries consisted of recycled cues from his earlier
B-picture and industrial film scores, and of themes for concurrent
radio and TV projects which he retained the rights to syndicate, and
a few Public Domain classical compositions. He could do this since he
was not only the composer, but the de-facto "publisher" of his
original music. Modern-day film and TV studios which squeeze every
ounce of profit from a composer, would probably not have let him get
away with such a thing. But in the infant days of TV, Laszlo was able
to negotiate these re-uses for television which undoubtedly provided
considerable help to his income in his later years.
One of his was libraries "Guild-Universal Music Program Aid Library"
(distributed by the Armed Forces Radio Service, division of the
Office of Education and Information of the Department of Defense.) He
called his other library "Structural Music" (because of an
architectural analogy used to promote it.) Laszlo himself marketed
"Structural Music" and published its contents under the name "Guild
Publications of California."
To compare the two libraries: His "Guild-Universal Program Aid
Library" consisted of a set of 50 double-sided discs with between 4 -
8 minutes per side (a little over 400 cues.) His larger "Structural
Music" library was an ongoing 11-year project, assembled between 1949
- 1960,which eventually numbered 38 Volumes, and totalled over 1100
cues which had several endings, and were sometimes used to record
multiple tracks, so his recorded library(ies) swelled to 3000 tracks
by 1959. In a very real sense, "Structural Music" merely grew out of
the Guild-Universal PA Library...putting it another way -- as his
repertoire expanded, he merely marketed it differently.
Consequently, there is considerable overlap in the contents of the
the libraries. Many of the same titles which appear in the
"Guild...Music Program Aid (PA)" library can also be found in the
larger "Structural Music" library. This overlap is not surprising,
since they were both merely marketing venues for recycling his
repertoire of feature and industrial film cues, plus anything else he
wrote for radio and/or TV.
His "Structural Music" library was marketed for a couple of years
using a chart he devised which measured emotions along three axes.
One axis represented positive emotions, another negative emotions,
and the third were "mechanical" machine-like cues [perhaps "alien
emotion"?] cues. From this scale, he derived a numbering system
which was used to index the cues and themes in his library. It is not
known whether his emotional indexing system was of actual use to him
or his clients' cue selectors, or was merely a kind of
pseudo-scientific marketing gimmick meant to impress Hollywood
producers. Whatever this meant, Laszlo did manage to pursuade the
Roland Reed filmed-TV production company, Official Films, the
fledgling MCA/Revue Studios and other producers to use his music. But
he soon dropped this rather arcane device from his promotional
literature, and no references to this emotional ID system appeared in
later volumes of "Structural Music."
Although many music suppliers said they recorded in Europe to
skirt strict musician's union rules, it was thought that at least
some recordings by other producers in fact used local union musicians
in what were called "dark" (closed, non-union) sessions. But Laszlo
didn't do dark dates. He had lived the first half of his life in
Germany and knew many of the musicians and studios there, and it was
at that time more economical to record in Germany than in the
So according to relatives who accompanied him to Europe, Laszlo
recorded most of his TV and Film music using the Bavarian Radio
orchestra known as "Fraenkisches Landesorchester" in the Nurnburg
Radio Studios. In English, this ensemble was know as "The Frankenland
State Symphony Orchestra." At one point, this orchestra appeared
under the baton of "Erich Kloss" conducting film music of Miklos
Rozsa. So it was thought that "Erich Kloss" was merely a pseudonym
for fellow Hungarian Miklos Rozsa. "Erich Kloss" also made commercial
recordings of several concert works by Laszlo with the Frankenland
State Symphony Orchestra in the 1960s. Although this orchestra in
concerts might use as many as 72 musicians, for Laszlo's purposes the
maximum listed on his cue sheets was usually 55 men, and often for
background scoring he used between 42-46 men.
Since Laszlo also was his own publisher, in 1957 he signed an
8-year licensing agreement with Capitol Special Products. He sent
them most of his more recently recorded cues (not the ones recycled
from old films.) These cues showed up in the catalog with an "SM"
[Structural Music] designation in the Capitol "Hi-Q" Library,
which was administered by William Loose and later Ole Georg. "Hi-Q"
was the next series of discs from Capitol Special Products following
the older Capitol "Q" Series which had been licensed from MUTEL music
MUTEL ("MUsic for TELevision) scoring service and library, was
started around 1951 by David Chudnow, a former cue selector/music
editor for Hal Roach Studios. MUTEL supplied music to TV series
producers. In 1953, Chudnow also licensed part of his library to the
Capitol "Q" Series library of Capitol Records Special Products, for
use on local TV stations.
In order to keep track of such new uses by customers of the various
libraries, the MUTEL pieces licensed to Capitol "Q" were given new
titles, and in some cases even new composer credit, often using a
pseudonym made up by the library, or using the name of a library
employee as "composer". This was the means that music syndicators
like Chudnow used for distributing royalties from ASCAP and BMI,
based upon their new uses. But it is confusing to collectors and
researchers to track just who was the original composer of a
particular work. Somehow -- and it is still not known how -- the
Racket Squad opener written by Laszlo seemed to become part of MUTEL
But this tenuous connection has not been proven. If it existed at
all, it only existed for a very few cuts. This author has scanned all
the manuscript scores in Laszlo's "Structural Music" which are at the
American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming, and has not
found any CUEs in MUTEL from this source.
One of the cues Laszlo may have provided was a "Racket Squad Main
Title" opener which was used by the syndicated TV series (1950.) It
was just a few seconds long, but a very original piece which set a
sinister mood. (This is not to be confused with the popular "Racket
Squad" End Title march -- "Parade of the Chessmen" by Joseph
Mullendore [which see].) The curious thing about this CUE is
that this author had the opportunity in 1998 to look through the
business files and papers of Laszlo. Although mention of the "Racket
Squad Main Title" was on Cue Sheets Laszlo created for the first 6
episodes ONLY, no corresponding number in "Structural Music" was
found. This was unusual practice for him, since he was always
meticulous about such things.
So this suggests the piece may have been a CUE from a film which was
not included in "Structural Music", or it was an original short CUE
he wrote. Even more odd is that no contract or communication with
David Chudnow or MUTEL was found among Laszlo's papers. So an
alternate theory is that this CUE was one recyled from "Structural
Music" (such as the short "Arch of Violence" used for the opening of
Rocky Jones, Space Ranger.)
To illustrate how hard it is to make conclusions from inferences,
author/library researcher Paul Mandell has examined ASCAP cue sheets
for the show "Racket Squad", and this particular MOOD Cue used as the
Opener. Mandell identified this cue by Laszlo as one which appeared
in MUTEL, and then this same piece turned up in 3 edits in Capitol
"Q", as THEME NO. 428 - OPENING, THEME NO. 428 - CLOSING, and MOOD
NO. 428. Mandell points out that ASCAP cue sheets for the first
season of "Racket Squad" list the Main Title as: "Racket Squad Main
Title" by Alexander Laszlo.
But then -- oddly enough -- in subsequent years, suddenly cue
sheets reveal a new Main Title for the series composed by "Melvyn
Lenard". This name is a pseudonym used to collect royalties by Gordon
Music. Publisher David Gordon (whose sons middle names were Melvyn
and Lenard) published some of the MUTEL Music cues. According to
Mandell, the "Racket Squad" TV series always used the same Main
Title. The "new theme" by "Melvyn Lenard" is just a longer edit of
the same piece of music, which was composed by Laszlo! It is not
known how this transition took place...so this maybe an erroneous
What is known for sure is that for over a decade (from 1950 - 1963),
Laszlo was a very busy man scoring TV series, and recycling cues via
his libraries. He provided Main and End Title themes for many
syndicated and low-budget series of "TV's Golden Age" include:
"Beulah" (1950), "The Hank McCune Show" (1950), "Trouble With
Father/Stu Erwin Show" (1950), "The New Big Town" [aka:
"Headlines"] (1950), "Stars Over Hollywood" [aka: "Gruen
Guild Theatre"][aka: "Chevron Theatre"] (1950-54), "Mark
Saber Mystery Theatre" (1951), "Rebound" (1951), "The Adventures of
Kit Carson" (1951), "Dupont Cavalcade of America" (1952), "My Little
Margie" (1952), "Biff Baker, USA" (1952), "This is The Life" (a
Lutheran religious show of 1952), "Meet Mr. McNutley/Ray Milland
Show" (1953), "General Electric Theatre of the Air" (1953), "It's
Your Decision" (1954), "Author's Playhouse" (1954), "Waterfront"
(1954), "Rocky Jones, Space Ranger" (1954), "Lone Wolf" (1955), "For
Your Information" (1955), "O. Henry Playhouse" (1956), "Dr. Hudson's
Secret Journal" (1956), "R.C.M.P." (1960), and several more. In
addition to Main and End credits themes, his libraries were also used
by producers to underscore episodes of over a hundred early TV
Some of his library tracks were used as background cues for episodes
of the "Burns and Allen" TV show, although their main title theme was
an old show tune called "The Love Nest". Mahlon Merrick also composed
an original theme used as a Main and End Credits Theme, found in the
MUTEL/Capitol "Q" library, called "Soft Shoe Dance" [MUTEL],
and THEME NO. 650 [Capitol "Q".] But Laszlo wrote a third
Main and End Credits Theme used on CBS-TV when "Burns and Allen Show"
was sponsored by Carnation and others. Laszlo's melody -- called
"Two-a-Day" in "Structural Music" [known as "Vaudeville Days" in
the Guild/PA library] -- resembles the Maurice Chevalier hit
"Valentine." But it is in fact an original Laszlo composition found
in several cue arrangements in his "Structural Music" library, in
Volumes 20 and 24.
The tune which became the "My Little Margie" Main and End title
theme, was heard briefly as a short secondary part of a cue Laszlo
scored for the Republic Pictures B-picture "The French Key" (1946.)
There were also brief snatches of this melody appearing in two other
cues earlier in the library. Perhaps it was due to the fact English
was Laszlo's second language, but the title he gave the film cue in
"The French Key" was "Bows and Strings In Teas'g" [apparently an
abbreviation of the word "Teasing."] Perhaps he meant "Staccato
Teaser Theme for Strings" or "Playful Bows and Strings." At any rate,
he expanded this charming but very brief pizzicato string section
into a full theme, when hired to score the TV series "My Little
Margie". It is not unusual for composers to develop ideas more fully
and reuse them, especially if they are very busy. No use wasting a
For its use on TV, he added woodwinds and horns to the pizzicato
strings. This melody is in Laszlo's "Structural Music" library in
several forms (including the film cue from "The French Key" in Volume
6.) For the expanded versions heard on the TV series (in Volumes 24
and 26), these cues are given titles which begin with "Little M.
Fanfares.." and "Bows and Strings..." or merely "Bows - Strings..."
Generically, the theme tune is now referred to by ASCAP as "My Little
Other series themes had quirky names by Laszlo. For example, one of
his themes for "Waterfront" are titled "Ahoy-Ahoy!" (the short motif,
used as an introduction to the Main Title), "Ship, Ahoy" (used for
Main & End Titles) and "Dome of Light" (used as an alternate End
Title on both "Waterfront" and "G E Theatre".) For the series "Lone
Wolf", the Main Title theme was listed in the library as "The Call",
and other variations include the word "...Call...", such as "Call for
Meditation" or "Brutality Calls." At other times, his library titles
were more closely related to the series for which they were written.
For example, his themes to open and close the series "Rocky Jones,
Space Ranger" were known as "Arch in Space" and "Space Credits"
respectively. For "Dupont Cavalcade of America", the themes were
"Glory of America (Arch and Dome)", and for "Mark Saber Mystery
Theatre", the themes were "Mystery Story (Arch and Dome)."
He wrote in a preface to his "Structural Music" library Vol. 1, that
he was using analogies from the world of architecture to make
"Structural Music" more useful to cue selectors. In his elaborate
analogy, he explained that the term "Arch" referred to an Opening
Theme, and the term "Dome" meant a Closing Theme (in Laszlo-speak.)
But it seems like such arcane terms would tend to obscure more then
Laszlo's libraries contributed episode cues to several of the early
Revue, Screen Gems, Desilu, and Four Star Productions as well,
including "Sheriff of Cochise", "U.S. Marshall", "Wyatt Earp",
"Wanted--Dead or Alive".
Later in the 1950s, Laszlo found work scoring B-pictures in the
low-budget horror/science-fiction genres. They include "Night of the
Blood Beast" (1958) aka: "Creature from Galaxy 27", "Ghost of the
China Sea" (1958), "Forbidden Island" (1959), and "The Atomic
It is ironic that during the most productive decade of his life, he
had to cope with a series of personal tragedies during the same
period. He suffered an automobile accident in 1953. His first wife
Arleen (who also helped him run his business) and his daughter both
succomed to cancer. He married his second wife, an Australian emigree
named Emmy, who was a physician. In order to spend more time with her
husband, she quit her practice and went to work for the City Schools
in Los Angeles as a school physician.Then in 1955, Laszlo himself was
diagnosed with cancer of the blood--leukemia. His prognosis was only
2 years. But he surprised his doctors by continuing to work, living
another 15 years, and was active until his last years writing and
publishing concert pieces and travelling.
In 1960 (at the age of 65) he composed a score for his final film
"Attack of the Giant Leeches" aka: "Demons of the Swamp". He died in
1970, one week short of his 75th birthday. His widow assigned his
publishing revenues to the Regents of the University of California,
who now administer the rights under the name "Alexander
Publications", the name his widow chose for his publishing rights
which she inherited. Many of his scores are stored as part of the
"American Heritage Collection" (AHC) at the University of Wyoming at
Recommended compositions by Alexander Laszlo --
Note: actual titles of most of these THEMES from his
libraries are found in the
TV Theme section:
- "Biff Baker, U.S.A." Theme, by Alexander Laszlo
- "My Little Margie" Theme, by Alexander Laszlo
- "Dr. Hudson's Secret Journal" Theme, by Alexander Laszlo
- "Racket Squad" Main Title Theme, by Alexander Laszlo
- "Ray Milland" Theme (for "Meet Mr. McNutley"), by Alexander
- "Trouble With Father" Theme (for "The Stu Erwin Show"), by
- "Waterfront" Themes, by Alexander Laszlo
Herschel Burke Gilbert (April 20, 1918 - March 23, 2003)
was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was a graduate of the
Julliard School of music in New York City.
Although his instrument was the viola, his versatile talents as an
arranger got him work with the famed Harry James dance band in the
1940s. In 1946, Gilbert was hired by Columbia pictures as an
orchestrator. Some of his first assignments in scoring were to
orchestrate small sections of pictures composed by Dimitri Tiompkin
including King Vidor's "Duel In the Sun" (1946), and the Frank Capra
classic "It's a Wonderful Life" (1947). What an entree to the film
He graduated to composing his own scores for such lesser-known
pictures including Three Husbands (1950), The Scarf (1952), The Thief (1952), No Time
For Flowers (1952), The Moon Is Blue (1953), Witness To Murder (1954),
Riot In Cell Block 11 (1954), Naked Dawn (1955), Beyond a Reasonable
Doubt (1956), The Bold and The Brave (1956), Nightmare (1956) and
While The City Sleeps (1956.)
Despite the fact these pictures were not major hits, Gilbert's
music did earn him the acclaim of two Academy Award nominations --
one for best song (the title song of "The Moon Is Blue"
in 1953), and a nomination for best score -- for the 1954 film
Carmen Jones -- in which he adapted themes from George Bizet's
1875 opera "Carmen."
He began composing for the fledgling television industry in 1951,
working freelance assignments, some of which were written under
pseudonyms for the "Mutel" (Music for Television) production library
of David Chudnow. Some of these compositions were also distributed as
part of the Capitol "Q" Series library in the early 1950s.
These early library pieces ended up being used as main-title themes
for "Death Valley Days", "Sky King", "Kit Carson", "Stories of the
Century", and "Four Star Playhouse". Four Star was a television
production company that was later to play an important role in
Gilbert's career. It had been formed by four film actors to showcase
their talents. The stars in the Playhouse were Charles Boyer, David
Niven, Dick Powell, and Ida Lupino.
In 1958 Gilbert was asked by film producers for whom he had worked in
the past, to score a new western television series they were
producing for Four Star Television. To circumvent US musician union
rules, a library of 90 minutes of music cues would be recorded in
Munich, Germany for use in various situations of episode scoring.
This series was "The Rifleman" starring Chuck Conners and Johnny
Crawford. Gilbert's theme and poignant underscore library for this
series attracted attention of the public and industry alike. As a
result of this success, Dick Powell offered Gilbert the position of
Music Director for Four Star Television, a position he held for five
During this period, he further developed the in-house library scoring
approach for Four Star, and supervised the productions of many
quality series recorded by foreign orchestras, and composed themes
for several of the series himself.
During his tenure as Music Director for Four Star, he hired several
other composers who developed memorable music themes, including
Joseph Mullendore, the ubiquitous Dave Kahn, Leith Stevens, Jerry
Fielding, Leonard Rosenman, Rudy Schrager, Arthur Morton, and Jerry
Goldsmith (who used a pseudonym.) Nelson Riddle was hired for the
series "The Rogues" and Elmer Bernstein for "Saints and Sinners."
Usually Gilbert conducted the
European or pickup orchestras used to record these pieces --
most notably an orchestra in Munich, Germany.
In 1962, an album of "Original Themes from Four Star Television Productions"
was released on the Dot label, in authentic soundtrack arrangements,
conducted by Herschel Burke Gilbert.
Mr. Gilbert died of complications from a stroke in the Spring of 2003,
less than a month short of his 85th birthday.
Recommended arrangements/compositions recorded by Herschel Burke
- Four Star Trademark Theme (Emblem 03), by Herschel Burke
- "Stories of the Century" Theme, by Herschel Burke Gilbert
(may have originated from an earlier motion picture)
- "Dick Powell Theater" Theme [aka "Stage Doors (More Than
Love)"], by Herschel Burke Gilbert (1961)
- "Nervous" teaser theme by Richard Shores (used on "Dick Powell
Theater" and "Richard Diamond" TV series)
- "Zane Grey Theatre" Theme, by Joseph Mullendore
Joseph Mullendore (October 21, 1914 - June 19, 1990)
An unsung hero of 1950s - 1960s media music, Joseph Mullendore's
music was memorable and well-written. His was the best kind of mood
music--the kind which can be used for establishing a mood for a
production, yet is so tuneful, it sticks in the mind and could cross
over into commercial light music.
Yet Joseph Mullendore was not one who sought (nor received) the
limelight. Content to work for low-budget packagers and publishers,
and to write TV episode scores on assignment, he was hardlly known to
the public. But his range of haunting themes used on radio and
television over three decades, demonstrate what an excellent composer
He could write a sprightly tune such as the march theme called "March
of the Rams" for TV production music library "MUTEL" and known as
THEME NO. 46 in the "Capitol Q Series" library. Then this theme was
in demand for "NBC's Game of the Week"--a network sports show of the
1950s. In fact, this particular tune was sought out so much by high
school bands across the country, it was later published in a marching
band arrangement under the name "Game of the Week March".
He could also write a haunting dramatic theme like Parade of the
Chessman, which was another library track that emerged as the end
credits theme of the early TV series "Racket Squad". He could then
turn around and write a little ditty to introduce "Private Secretary"
(1954), one of two themes used for a whimsical TV series starring Ann
He began as an arranger, often scoring the compositions of his
colleague Herschel Burke Gilbert and others. The MUTEL library cues
he wrote were tracked into many of the early low-budget filmed TV
series which were produced at Hal Roach Studios and others, including
"The Adventures of Superman."
In the early 1950s, Joseph Mullendore scored two B-pictures,
including the 1954 melodrama "Wicked Woman" and scored the Broderick
Crawford film "New York Confidential" in 1955. That same year, at the
invitation of Gilbert who was Music Director at Four Star Television,
Mullendore was given the chance to contribute to many of the
company's series episode scores, including "The Rifleman", "Cimmaron
City", "Robert Taylor's Detectives", "Burke's Law", and "Richard
For Four Star, he also wrote episode scores, and the main title theme
for "Zane Grey Theatre" (1956), one of the finest western signature
themes ever written. He was nominated for an Emmy award in the
1962-1963 15th Emmy Awards in the category of Outstanding Original
Music for music he wrote for "The Dick Powell Theater."
Joseph Mullendore also was the uncredited composer of the title torch
song for the Fritz Lang 1956 film noir classic "While The City
Sleeps" that had a cast that was a virtual who's who of film noir
actors including Dana Andrews, Rhonda Fleming, Howard Duff, George
Sanders, Vincent Price, Ida Lupino and John Drew Barrymore.
But it was his work in TV that was to have the most widespread
audience. An album containing some of his music from "Honey West" (a
female private eye) was released on ABC/Paramount label in 1966. The
track "Sweet Honey" is the quintessential sexy blues theme, with
saxophone and strings.
His later work included the Wayne Maunder western series "Custer",
episode scores for the Rod Serling "Twilight Zone" and three Irwin
Allen TV shows -- the "Time Tunnel", "Lost In Space" and "Land of the
Giants". During this period he also scored a 1966 espionage film
starring Robert Goulet called "I Deal In Danger."
Joseph Mullendore was married to his wife, Virginia Ganahl , in 1947.
They were together 39 years until her death in 1986. He had two
children: James Ganahl Mullendore and Judith Marie Mullendore -- both
of whom passed away in 1997. He died at his home in Pasadena,
California in 1990.
Recommended compositions by Joseph Mullendore:
- Love Theme No. 1 (MUTEL Theme--2nd Theme for radio series
"Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar)
- Parade of the Chessmen (Theme from "Racket Squad")
- Theme from "Private Secretary"
- Game of the Week March (used by "ABC Sports" )
- Newsreel Special (Signature)
- "Zane Grey Theatre" Theme (2nd theme)
- Sweet Honey (from series "Honey West")
Raoul Kraushaar (music packager, 1908 - October 13, 2001)
was born in France. He was the son of an orchestra musician, and
came to the U. S. as a teenage stow-away on a ship. He studied music
arranging at New York's Columbia University before moving to
California. His first film credit was on the 1937 Gene Autry picture
"Round Up Time In Texas." He worked as an arranger at MGM and at
Republic Pictures, and was Music Director at Republic for a time. He
found that he could get eager composers to work for him, and take
credit or share credit with them by paying "a buy-out fee". He
offered a kind of "ghost writing" opportunity to those who wanted to
work in the business. This is not unheard of although the practice
may seem shoddy. TV composer Mike Post had so many projects being
scored that he hired writers to "ghost write" episode scores under
his aegis during the 1970s-1980s.
In the world of screenwriting, author credits may not include all the
people who worked on a script either. So the renaming of compositions
and composers, is just another example of how the system works,
especially in the low-budget music syndication business.
Kraushaar established an early music production library/scoring
service for television. "Omar Music Service" started scoring the
Lassie series, but evolved into a larger service (similar to the
"Mutel" (Music For Television) library/scoring service of David
Chudnow.) Kraushaar even managed to recycle some of Republic's old
cues through his library also. Although his name appears as
co-composer or composer on several cues or main title themes,
Kraushaar was primarily a publisher of themes composed by others.
His credit as composer of the original "Lassie" TV theme, is actually
a curious case. The first season theme, called "Secret of the Silent
Hills", was actually composed by William Lava, a composer who met
Kraushaar while working at Republic Studios. The piece originated as
a cue Lava wrote called "Presenting the Doctor" from a 1940s film
"The Courage of Dr. Christian." Soundtrack Producer and Production
Music Library expert Paul Mandell points out that the second season
"Lassie" THEME (credited to Kraushaar as the composer) is actually
the SAME as the first season THEME but with a few notes of the melody
changed. It's amazing the extent some music packagers went to get not
only the publisher's share, but the composer's share as well.
Among the early TV series which were scored using cues from his
library are "Hopalong Cassidy", "Alfred Hitchcock Presents", "The
Thin Man", "Northwest Passage", and "Adventures of Hiram Holiday"
(the Wally Cox series he did after "Mr. Peepers".)
Kraushaar passed away at the age of 93 in Pompano Beach, Florida.
Dave Kahn (born October 14, 1910)
was a talented Los Angeles-area composer (born in Duluth,
Minnesota) who did scoring for B-picture film studios, and then
during TV's first decade, worked often as a "ghost writer" for both
Raoul Kraushaar's music library/scoring service, and for David M.
Gordon's publishing company "Gordon Music" during the 1950s and
1960s. Although the names of Raoul Kraushaar and "Melvyn Lenard" may
have appeared on the cue sheets, Kahn was the actual composer of many
themes, such as "Leave It to Beaver" and "Overland Trail", and others
which were licensed from these libraries which ended up on the air.
It is even possible Kahn ghost-wrote a library track called
"Whirlind" which ended up the Main Title opening THEME for "The
Later Kahn was given co-credit in published sheet music when the
themes became popular, although he was the sole composer of the
music. He also wrote the first arrangement of Charles Gounod's
"Funeral March of a Marionette" used for "Alfred Hitchcock Presents".
(In later seasons, other arrangements of this whimsical classical
piece were written by Stanley Wilson and Jeff Alexander.)
Through these libraries, many of his cues ended up as episode scores
for many TV shows including "Beany and Cecil", "Buckskin", "Cimarron
City", "Coronado 9", "Death Valley Days", "Dennis The Menace",
"Escape", "Green Acres", "Leave It To Beaver", "M-Squad", "Mike
Hammer", "The Millionaire", "My Sister Susan", "Ozzie and Harriet",
"Restless Gun", "Rich Man, Poor Man", "The Silent Service", "State
Trooper", "Tales of the Texas Rangers", "The Thin Man", "U. S.
Marshall", "Wagon Train", "Whirlybirds", and "Wyatt Earp".
Kahn went on to work as a music editor for several series, actually
splicing cues written by himself and other composers, into the music
tracks at certain points in various TV shows, including "Mr. Ed",
"Green Acres" and "Beverly Hillbillies".
Recommended compositions and arrangements by Dave Kahn:
- The Toy Parade (Theme from "Leave It To Beaver"), by Dave
- Bachelor Father Serenade (first theme from "Bachelor Father"),
by Dave Kahn
- Riff Blues (Theme from "Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer"), by
- "Hiram Holiday" (Main and End Title from "The Adventures of
Hiram Holiday"), probably by Dave Kahn (attributed to Raoul
- "Suspicion" (Theme from "Suspicion", 1957 series on NBC-TV),
by Dave Kahn
- arrangement of "Funeral March of a Marionette" by Charles
Gounod (used for "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" TV series)
Melvyn Lenard/Melvyn Lenard Gordon [psuedonym of publisher David
M. Gordon, for works-for-hire usually composed by Dave Kahn and
David Marvin Gordon was a California music publisher/packager who
supplied music to early TV producers under the name "Gordon Music
Company." He also published some cues for other packagers including
the "MUTEL" (Music for Television) scoring service of David Chudnow,
Raoul Kraushaar and Revue Studios.
David Gordon would often "share" credits with his composers, using a
pseudonym of made up names, usually based upon a combination of
various family member names--Melvyn Lenard, Melvyn Lenard Gordon, G.
David, Jay Marilyn, Ruth Layne, and other endless variations.)
In some cases, the actual composer turned out to be Dave Kahn, who
also worked for Raoul Kraushaar and others suppliers of music, or
William Lava who was with Kraushaar when he worked at Republic
Studios. Gordon published sheet music of the Lassie theme under the
name "Secret of the Silent Hills", and he gave proper credit to
William Lava as composer.
Irving Gertz and other composers for B-Pictures sometimes found that
their "works for hire" had been sold to Gordon who would make a deal
with the producers, and sometimes re-title and put his name on the
tracks for royalty purposes. More about this practice later.
Gordon also published arrangements of music which started out as a
library track in other libraries but became so popular with the
public, that band arrangements were requested for high school
marching bands. Such was the case with a march composed by Joseph
Mullendore appearing in the Mutel library as "March of the Rams".
This MUTEL march was actually edited into two marches for the Capitol
"Q" Series library --"Theme No. 46 (sports - march)" and "Mood No. 50
(sports - march)".
"Theme No 46" was popularized after it was used by NBC sports for
their "Game of the Week" broadcasts. Gordon published a band
arrangement of it under the name of "Game of the Week March".
The other edit of the piece--"Mood No. 50"--became the main title
march used of "The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin".
The above way that this one piece was licensed to two libraries, and
then edited into two different marches--which generated two new sets
of royalties, is indicative of the way music syndicators could
re-package music to generate new uses. It is similar to the way that
every part of a pig is used in the meat processing business --
"everything but the whistle."
Gordon had an early relationship publishing THEME music that used for
Revue Television series. Perhaps that explains how his pseudonym
"Melvyn Lenard" ended up as on ASCAP Cue Sheets as composer of the
Main Title for "The Millionaire", a series Revue produced from 1955 -
1960. Although there were at least two different End Credits THEMEs,
one Main Title THEME was used most frequently which sounded like a
library track and had the sub-title "Whirlwind." So was some
confusion over whose composition was actually used for the Main Title
claimed by "Melvyn Lenard."
In March, 2003, ClassicThemes.Com contributor David Schecter wrote to
report he had a conversation with composer Irving Gertz who revealed
that the "Millionaire" Main Title was actually a cue Gertz composed
called "Betting Montage" for a 1951 B-picture "The Two-Dollar
Bettor." He had not known the film's producer would license the score
to packager David Gordon, and was surprised when he heard his music
used to open "The Millionaire" TV series for so many years.
In later years, Gordon retired to Palm Springs, California and left
the publishing business to his sons.
Mahlon Merrick (Jan. 28, 1900 - August 7, 1969)
Mahlon Le Grande Merrick was born in Farmington, Iowa, When he was
five years old, Mahlon's family moved to Centralia, Washington where
he grew up. Although he studied Mathematics and Physics at the
University of Washington, intending to become a science teacher, he
played saxophone in local bands and orchestras while in college to
pay his tuition. He found the music business was so much more fun and
lucrative that he took the step of changing his major to music.
He switched to Washington State University at Pullman where he
studied both music and education, graduating in 1923. He was employed
as a music teacher briefly in Redmond, Washington. But his ambition
for the more professional side of music was gaining momentum.
Enrolling in graduate studies at the prestigious Chicago Conservatory
of Music, he studied with reknowned composition instructor Leo
Sowerby who also wrote for saxophone. Merrick played in bands in the
Davenport, Iowa area near the town where he was born before returning
to the West Coast.
After coming back to the West, he worked briefly in Spokane
playing in hotel orchestras and his first radio job at the spokane
radio station KHJ (call letters that would later be re-assigned to a
Hollywood radio station.)
He next moved to San Francisco and played in the prestigious
orchestra of the Palace Hotel. Since San Francisco was the West Coast
headquarters of radio broadcasting networks at that time, his local
radio music background helped him get his first job on the network
radio program "Blue Monday Jamboree", and to a job working for the
NBC radio network at the studios of KFRC.
He was offered the prestigious position of Music Director of the
Don Lee Radio Network -- a West Coast network which later became part
of the Mutual Radio. This required Merrick to move to Los Angeles. In
1935 his Los Angeles connections led to an opportunity to become Jack
Benny's Music Directo, and he accepted.
His arrangements of the Jack Benny radio opening [a medley of
"(I'm A) Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "Love In Bloom"] and closing
THEME ["Hooray For Hollywood"] became very well-known
signatures as Benny's star continued to rise.
When Benny eventually created his1952 primetime TV sitcom, Mahlon
got a chance to write "The Jack Benny Theme" -- a composition
specifically written for the CBS TV series which became one of the
most widely heard and least known THEMEs on television. (He wrote
several other TV THEMEs for two other Benny TV shows which weren't as
charming, but his CBS TV THEME was a classic.) He worked closely with
arranger Carl Brandt who later became a staff composer/arranger for
Musical advertising jingles (such as "Barbosol" and "Have You
Tried Wheaties?") had been broadcast on network radio since the
1920s. But Merrick promoted himself as a pioneer in creating musical
jingles for television commercials. This was primarily due to the
arrangements he made on the Jack Benny show during the 1930s and
1940s for the "Sportsman Quartet" who sang sponsor's jingles
including several comedic jingles for Lucky Strike cigarettes.
But his reputation in this area was also cemented by the
popularity of a jingle he composed in 1952 for the Gillette Safety
Razor Company using their slogan "Look Sharp -- Be Sharp." This
stirring march sung by a male chorus also incorporated another
Gillette slogan in the introductory section "How Are You Fixed For
Blades?" The jingle became famous on radio, and soon found its way
onto television as the THEME song of "The Gillette Cavalcade of
Sports" -- a weekly NBC-TV series which featured boxing mostly.The
catchy tune caught on with the public. A marching band arrangement
was made of it in 1954 by band arranger Paul Yoder for high schools
and colleges to perform.
Over 100 TV commercial jingles composed by Merrick included:
Mahlon Merrick also began to branch out in the business of scoring
television series besides Jack Benny. Several other shows for which
he composed Main Title/End Credit THEMEs are: the Ann Sothern series,
"Private Secretary", the Bob Cummings series "Love That Bob", "The
Life Of Riley", "Burns and Allen", "The People's Choice", and "NFL
His background writing marches for his alma mater, for Gillette
and his connection with NFL Sports led to his composiing several
marches for use behind highlights shows produced by NFL Films. And in
an ironic twist, a march he wrote called "Colossus of Columbia" was
used 25 years after his death for the cable TV series "The NFL on
Fox" (1994 - present.) In one quarter alone, a BMI royalty statement
sent to his heirs lists157 performances of that march.
Throughout most of his professional life in Los Angeles, Merrick
made his home in the Pacific Palisades suburb of Los Angeles. After
retiring to Palm Springs, Mahlon Merrick succombed to cancer in
Leon Klatzkin, music editor/composer (June 19, 1914 - 1992)
Another musician who started in the East and came West was Leon
Klatzkin. He wrote music and was a music cutter (music editor) for
Hal Roach films--in 1951 he is credited with scoring Roach's version
of "Tales of Robin Hood", a black and white version which only lasted
Although he was an ASCAP composer, he was more often used as a Music
Editor. His early projects include 20th Century Fox TV series, "My
Friend Flicka", "Broken Arrow", and others.
He will perhaps be best remembered for the stirring music which
opened and closed the "Adventures of Superman", the 1951 Syndicated
TV series starring George Reeves. The famous Main Title music
included two cues--a "main flying theme" and a "march" section--which
were combined into one of the most famous opening sequences of any
series on television. The End Title and Trailer cues consisted only
of the "march" played at various tempos with various edits.
The opening sequence for the series combines many elements in a
montage which summarizes the origin and powers of "Superman", as if
anyone needed to be educated about how he could "leap tall buildings
with a single bound", was "more powerful than a locomotive" and
"faster than a speeding bullet."
Klatzkin's sound montage behind this sequence combined the two music
cues with sound effects of a train, a bullet, and an airy
building-leaping effect, which could also be run backwards for
Superman landing back on Earth. For its time, it was a memorable job
of sound editing--almost equal to the process of music composition
In a surprising telephone interview in the late 1980s from his Los
Angeles home, Klatzkin discussed the fact that writing the Main Title
and End Credits for "Superman" was just another commissioned project
which he said was recorded on a New York sound stage. He said the
episode scores were library cues recorded in Europe (by which he
meant Mutel and other libraries which supplied the series he edited.)
He did not remember other details about the Main Title theme, or keep
his manuscript score. He said he turned the manuscript into his
publisher, the Bourne Company (who ended up discarding it.) In fact,
Klatzkin was more eager to discuss his role as a composer of episode
scores for the CBS TV western "Gunsmoke", than the "Superman" main
title which may have made him immortal among TV theme
Subsequent research by Superman TV Series expert Paul Mandell, has
revealed that Klatzkin--who was well known as a music editor--may
have been given credit for composing pieces which he in fact merely
re-edited, for the Mutel and Capitol "Q" Series library and for
syndicated shows Mutel serviced, including Superman.
Ghost-writing (aka: "ghosting") is a practice that has been a long
tradition in Hollywood music scoring circles, both for feature films
and TV series. This system exists for two reasons: it allows novice
composers to gain practical experience, and it helps out more
established composers who have a contract when they get overbooked.
(A cynic might say that in the case of those "composers" like Leon
Klatzkin, David Gordon [aka "Melvyn Lenard"], or Rauol
Kraushaar, the practice of "ghosting" may have existed for a third
reason: it benefited those who were more packager or cue selector
However insidious this practice may appear to the layman from the
point of view of 50 years later, this author believes that those who
were "ghosting" went into this type of assignment at the time with
their eyes open, and if any explotation occurred it was for the most
part with the knowledge and consent of the exploited. Taking a
devil's advocate position, it would be hard to "hide" the use of
works that were being broadcast for years on TV, if some contract did
not cover it, however unfair that contract may have turned out to be
in hindsight. Remember, that in the early days of TV, no one knew
whether TV (sometimes thought of as "radio with pictures") was a fad
or was something that would last. No one could have foreseen the
eventual size of TV including syndication and cable and satellite
reruns. So if a composer in the early 1950s was offered a buyout
contract to "ghost" for someone without credit or future royalites,
at least he was working that week. As to the names of the original
composers who may have "ghosted" for Klatzkin on various projects,
their names are unknown at this time.
These libraries (also known as music syndicators) "re-cycled" cues
and themes often composed for old movies or other purposes, licensing
them to customers who were syndicators of low-budget TV series. When
the new series aired on TV stations across the country, this
generated new "useage credits" in the verbiage of ASCAP and BMI, who
collect performance royalties from TV and radio stations. These "new
uses" were not to be confused with the older uses which might still
be generated if an old movie ran on TV or the original cue was aired
in another series.
Although the practice of assigning additional composer credits may
seem shoddy, the sale of all "Grand Rights" in a copyright is not
illegal. So the new owner often assigned a new title and/or a new
composer's name to collect money for new uses. The new cue title
(and/or composer name) enabled the library to collect ASCAP and BMI
royalties which these new uses generated. Probably the original
composers had long ago signed away all rights to the studio or
publisher who then re-sold them to Mutel to do with what they wanted.
Or, in the case of Alexander Laszlo, the composer/publisher himself
directly signed a contract with Mutel for re-using his cues.
Since Klatzkin, the music editor, was a MUTEL employee as well as a
composer/member of the musician's union, his name was a natural
choice for being used as a way of collecting these royalties
generated by the new uses of customers of the Mutel library. Although
this was not discussed openly at the time, it is a practice which
must have had a legal basis in the contracts Mutel signed with
composers, or else these composers would have complained loudly when
these TV series aired nationwide for decades.
In the telephone interview, Klatzkin also took pride in his work
composing for Four Star Television series, prior to the arrival of
Herschel Burke Gilbert in 1958, after which his main title themes and
Four Star Signature piece were replaced with new ones composed by
Gilbert, Joseph Mullendore, and others. Klatzkin was ill with heart
disease the last several years of his life, and died in 1992 at his
home in Marina Del Rey, California.
Recommended compositions credited to Leon Klatzkin:
- "Superman" (Main & End Titles, and Trailer), by Leon
- Four Star Opening Signature, by Leon Klatzkin
- "Public Defender" Main Title, by Leon Klatzkin
- "Susanna" Theme (Opening and Closing), (from "The Gale Storm
Show: Oh! Susanna") by Leon Klatzkin
- Saturday Night at the Movies (NBC Movies), by Leon Klatzkin
(first of a 2-part opening THEME)
Bernard ("Bernie") Green (Sept. 14 1908 - 1975)
was born in New York under the birth name of Bernard Greenwald. He
graduated from New York University College of Fine Arts in 1932, and
first came to public notice as the conductor/composer of the "Henry
Morgan Radio Show", also known as "Here's Morgan" (1940 - 48).
Other radio series he composed and/or conducted included the
Dashiell Hammett detective series "The Fat Man" (1946 - 51) and he
composed themes for the dramatic suspense series, "The Clock" (on ABC
radio from 1946 - 1948, and the first TV version on NBC-TV 1949 -
Bernard was the composer of one of the most delightful TV themes
ever recorded, for the Wally Cox TV series "Mr. Peepers" (1952 - 55).
The theme featured eclectic woodwinds and strings, including soprano
recorders playing the melody. He conducted the live orchestra in New
York, performing the background cues during the show's three-year
He went on to conduct and compose for the TV variety show "Caesar's
Hour" (1954 - 57) which featured comedian Sid Caesar, and later, for
the comedy/variety "Garry Moore Show" during the two years from 1966
- 67. He also wrote music for the Miss Universe and Miss U.S.A.
pageants from 1968 until his death in 1975. His hobbies were yachting
He also scored the TV series Pulitzer Prize Playhouse (1950 -1952),
"Adventure" (1953), "United States Steel Hour" (1953 - 1963), the
cartoon "Cool McCool" (1966 - 69), the second "Blondie and Dagwood"
series (1968 - 69), and "Make a Wish" (1971 - 76). His United States
Steel Hour March Theme was made into a suite for Concert Band.
He wrote a symphony, and a composition called "The White Magnolia
Tree", and a novelty audiophile album called "More Than You Can Stand
Recommended compositions by Bernard Green:
- "Mr. Peepers" Theme, by Bernard Green
- "The Clock" Theme, by Bernard Green
- "Caesar's Hour" Theme, by Bernard Green
- "Alcoa Fanfare", by Bernard Green
- "United States Steel March", by Bernard Green
Stanley J. Wilson (1917 - 1970)
was born in New York. As a young man in college in the late 1930s,
he originally began pre-med studies, but then switched to music. He
learned to play trumpet well enough to make a living at it for a few
years. Then he tried his hand at arranging during the Swing era, for
dance bands including Freddie Martin, and for several network radio
shows. Discovering his talent was much stronger in arranging than in
playing music, he came out West. In Hollywood he found work with MGM
Studios as a staff orchestrator for movie musicals, featuring
Jeanette MacDonald, Jimmy Durante, and Lauritz Melchior.
In 1947 he was hired by Republic Pictures where he not only could
orchestrate, but try his skills as a full-fledged composer. He found
most of his assignments were "B" westerns with titles like "Powder
River Rustlers" (1949) and "Hills of Oklahoma" (1950). His
administrative skills were appreciated more, as he rose to the
position of Music Director for the studio, co-ordinating scoring
assignments, and stretching budgets, and re-using tracks, etc. In
short, he learned the tricks of the trade as a low-budget studio
music man to assemble a serviceable score from a pastiche of
In 1954 his success in doing this, caused him to be hired away from
Republic to become Music Supervisor for Universal's Studios new
television production wing--called Revue Studios. His position was
"creative". Another executive handled music "business" details for
the ever-corporate MCA/Revue.
Wilson had the responsibility for devising a plan for scoring each
Revue production. He had a lot of power in that position--the power
to hire composers, and to make creative decisions about the music
scoring for each Revue series, so that the music, at least stayed
within budget. Initially the budgets forced Wilson to use his learned
skills in stretching resources, to score TV shows with fillers like
Capitol "Q" and/or MuTel library tracks.
Another perk of being the studio's Music Supervisor was you could
appoint yourself to write main-title themes (and collect ASCAP and
BMI royalties on same.) One of the earliest THEMEs he is credited
with co-writing was for "The Millionaire" (syndicated title: "If You
Had a Million") produced from 1955 - 1960 which was one of the first
and best known TV series from Revue Productions. There were four
different THEME melodies used on "The Millionaire" series at various
times and for its subsequent syndication, so it is possible that
Wilson was at least composer of one or more of them...although music
publisher David Gordon claimed credit at one point using his
pseudonym Melvyn Lenard.
In 1958, budgets at Revue grew to where more and more original
composers could be hired to score episodes. For the first season of
the police drama "M-Squad" (1957), Stanley Wilson wrote an opening
theme which was later replaced by a big-band blues written by Count
Basie. In all fairness to Mr. Wilson, he had to make the decision to
replace his own theme when other considerations were at stake. This
replacement occurred when the public attention on Mancini's jazz
score of "Peter Gunn" TV series (1959) caused music directors and
producers to switch to scoring crime shows with jazz. The "M-Squad"
main title and some incidental themes composed by Basie were later
released as a successful LP album with the orchestra conducted by
Wilson was in the fortunate position of being able to attract better
composer/arrangers to the medium of network TV during its first
decade. To his credit, he did bring in many good people, including
Elmer Bernstein, Jerome Moross, and the young John T. Williams (who
was known as "Johnny Williams", up and coming studio pianist and
composer, in those days.) Bernstein took over scoring "General
Electric Theatre", Jerome Moross worked on "Wagon Train", and
Williams wrote for several Revue series including "Alcoa Premiere",
"Bachelor Father", "The Chrysler Theatre", and "Wide Country".
During his tenure at Revue, Stanley Wilson composed main-title themes
for several TV series. These included the westerns "Cimarron City",
"Buckskin", and the memorable first theme of "Tales of Wells Fargo"
(1957). He wrote one of the "Wagon Train" series themes for its
release in syndication (called "Major Adams, Trailmaster".)
He composed a smooth latin-style detective theme for a series called
"Markham" (1959) which featured suave actor Ray Milland. He wrote a
"General Electric Theatre Logo" theme in the seasons following Elmer
Bernstein's more grandiose theme (which introduced host Ronald
Reagan.) And Wilson wrote one of the arrangements of the classical
novelty piece "Funeral March of a Marionette", which was used as the
signature introducing "Alfred Hitchcock Presents".
The "Universal City Emblem" was also co-written by Stanley Wilson and
Juan Esquivel. This piece was a fanfare heard for many years as a
trailer theme at the tag end of virtually every Revue
TV/MCA-distributed television series which aired on American
television from the 1960s through the early 1990s. It is probably one
of the most famous four bars of music ever heard on television. The
first two bars begins with unison french horns in a kind of inverted
"Big Ben" figure, and then a "fandango figure" of triplet eights are
played by the whole brass section as an answer phrase. This bombastic
ending is typical of the Esquivel style which made him the darling of
the "Space Age Bachelor Music" set recently.
A couple of variations were made of the "Universal City" Revue
Emblem. One which appeared in the 1980s was overlaid with a
distracting synthesizer arpeggio. Finally, a second arrangement at a
faster tempo was used. It had a foreshortened brass finale, edited to
a single tonic chord. It's hard to fathom the need to clip 3 seconds
from such a short tag, but the never-ending pressures for air time on
TV are relentless.
Although he was not known as a recording artist, Stanley Wilson made
a few instrumental concept albums late in his career. He also
recorded an album of Revue TV music called "Themes To Remember".
Stanley Wilson and his Orchestra recorded for the Decca and Charter
labels. Unfortunately his album career was cut short by his death in
1970, at the age of 53.
Recommended arrangements and compositions recorded by Stanley
Wilson and His Orchestra:
- "The Millionaire" [end title], by Stanley J. Wilson
and George F. Tibbles
- "Markham" Theme, by Stanley J. Wilson
- Don't Wake Me Up, by Daniel Barbot, Don Raye, and Guy
- "Tales From Wells Fargo" Theme, by Stanley J. Wilson
- "Trailmaster" Theme (from "Major Adams, Trailmaster"), by
Stanley J. Wilson
- "Universal City" Revue Emblem, by Juan Garcia Esquivel and
Stanley J. Wilson