Academy-Award nominated composer John Morris has passed on at the age of 91. According to Morris’ daughter, Bronwen Morris, her father died at his home in Red Hook, N.Y, from complications caused by a respiratory infection.
Nominated for the Oscar for Best Song for the opening theme of Blazing Saddles as well as the Oscar for Best Original Score for his work on The Elephant Man, Morris won few awards in his long career. He was honored with a Daytime Emmy Award in 1979 for his work on the NBC children’s program Special Treat and won multiple ASCAP awards for the music he created for the Craig T. Nelson sitcom Coach. Morris was most famous, however, for his association with Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder, creating the scores for many of their classic comedies, including Young Frankenstein and Spaceballs.
Morris’ passing was reported by The New York Times. In addition to his daughter, Morris is survived by his wife, the former Francesca Bosetti, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. A son, Evan, died in 2014.
A notoriously shy man who rejected the career of a concert pianist as being far too public, Morris preferred to act as an accompanist, playing piano for many singers (including Judy Garland) as well as working on Broadway as a dance arranger and conductor when he wasn’t composing. Described by Mel Brooks as, “my emotional right arm,” Morris and Brooks first worked together on two short-lived Broadway musicals – 1957’s Shinbone Alley and 1962’s All-American. When Brooks made the leap from television writing to filmmaking, he dragged his old friend Morris along with him to create the music for his first film, The Producers.
This would begin a whole new line of work for Morris, who would go on to compose the score for every single one of Brooks’ movies up through the 1991 comedy Life Stinks. Following Brooks’ collaboration with Gene Wilder on Young Frankenstein (whose score Brooks counts as his personal favorite movie music of all time alongside Morris’ score for The Elephant Man), Morris would go on to provide the music for many of Wilder’s films, including The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother and The Woman In Red. Morris is also remembered for his work on the musical scores for classic films such as Clue and Dirty Dancing.
Rest in Peace John Morris: October 18, 1926 – January 25, 2018
Source: The New York Times
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