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John Morris, Composer for Mel Brooks’s Films, Dies at 91

Mr. Brooks cautioned Mr. Morris in opposition to writing frightening song for a movie a few inclined, if terrifying, monster (Peter Boyle) animated via Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Mr. Wilder), the grandson of Victor Frankenstein.

“Mel told me to write the most beautiful Eastern European lullaby that you can,” Mr. Morris informed the web mag Film Score Monthly in 1997. “That would be the heart of the monster. It would be his childhood.”

Mr. Morris persisted to compose for Mr. Brooks’s comedies, amongst them “Silent Movie” (1976) and “High Anxiety” (1977), however took a detour with him into drama with “The Elephant Man” (1980), a few significantly disfigured guy (John Hurt) who's stored via a surgeon from a freak display in late-19th-century London. Mr. Brooks’s corporate produced the movie, which David Lynch directed.


Mr. Morris operating at the rating of the Gene Wilder movie “The World’s Greatest Lover” in 1977.

The Film Music Society

Writing that movie’s primary theme required a number of weeks, Mr. Morris mentioned. “The theme had to convey someone who worked on the edges of the circus, and the melody had to be poignant,” Mr. Morris mentioned within the Film Score Monthly interview. “It has two layers. It has the track after which it has the over-layer, which is the circus. It took me a very long time to reach at that time.”

John Leonard Morris was once born on Oct 18, 1926, in Elizabeth, N.J. His father, Thomas, was once an engineer who designed the revolving doorways at the Tiffany & Company flagship retailer on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. His mom, the previous Helen Sherratt, was once a homemaker.

When John was once about three, he and his folks visited buddies within the Bronx who owned a piano, and he in an instant changed into occupied with the tool, and in the end, his folks purchased him one among his personal.

The Morrises moved to Independence, Kan., when John was once younger, and he started taking piano classes ahead of returning east to review piano at the Juilliard School within the overdue 1940s. He additionally attended the University of Washington and the New School for Social Research.

Mr. Morris was once too shy for the general public lifetime of a live performance pianist, so he labored as an accompanist (for Judy Garland, amongst others), dance arranger, conductor and composer. He labored for Joseph Papp’s Public Theater, the place he wrote song for Shakespeare within the Park and was once musical director for the pre-Broadway manufacturing of “Hair.” And he helped create “A Time for Singing” (1966) a Broadway musical impressed via the radical “How Green Was My Valley,” for which he wrote the song and collaborated at the lyrics and e-book with Gerald Freedman.

For the following 40 years, he composed song for a lot of films, together with the ones directed via Mr. Wilder and Marty Feldman, in addition to the comedy “The In-Laws” (1979) and the stark drama “Ironweed” (1987), and for tv displays together with the sitcom “Coach” and the mini-series “The Adams Chronicles” (1976) and “Scarlett” (1994), a sequel to “Gone With the Wind.”

“I know how to write tunes,” he mentioned in an interview he recorded in 2009 with one among his granddaughters, Hayley Morris. “All I have to do is think Johannes Brahms. And I know what Brahms does. I know how he wrote, and you just do what he does and you’re in business.”

But Mr. Morris was once now not a part of the Broadway manufacturing of “The Producers,” a musical that opened in 2001 and gained 12 Tony Awards, together with one for Mr. Brooks’s rating. While Mr. Brooks mentioned that he solicited Mr. Morris’s evaluations on one of the most display’s songs, Bronwen Morris mentioned that she was once blind to her father speaking with Mr. Brooks concerning the musical.

In addition to his daughter, Mr. Morris is survived via his spouse, the previous Francesca Bosetti; 5 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. A son, Evan, died in 2014.

Although he gained an Oscar nomination for “The Elephant Man,” Mr. Morris remained annoyed that Mr. Lynch had mandated that he use Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings,” a well-liked 20th-century orchestral paintings, in a phase of the movie somewhat than stick with the unique rating.

“I told Lynch what’s going to happen is this piece is going to be used over and over and over again in the future,” Mr. Morris informed Film Score Monthly. “And every time it’s used in a movie it’s going to diminish the effect of the scene. Now, when people see ‘The Elephant Man,’ they go … ah, that’s the music from ‘Platoon.’ ”

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