David Raksin


Like his collaborators on MODERN TIMES Alfred Newman and Edward Powell, , Raksin went on to a celebrated career in Hollywood. As a composer, he worked without credit on forty-eight films before finally sharing screen credit on THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES in 1939. His big break came when Newman and Bernard Herrmann refused to score Otto Preminger’s 1944 film noir, LAURA. Newman, who was head of the 20th Century Fox music department, assigned Raksin to write the score and Raksin’s haunting theme became an instrumental and jazz classic. He went on to score over 100 films, including FOREVER AMBER, THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, PAT AND MIKE, and SEPARATE TABLES. Raksin, a former member of the Communist Party briefly in the 1930s, was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee and reluctantly named names of 11 party members who were dead or who had already been named. “What I did was a major sin,” he said in a 1997 interview with the Los Angeles Times, “but I think I did as well as most human beings would’ve done under torture…. But there I was, a guy with a family to support and a fairly decent career that was about to go down the drain.” Raksin taught film composition at the University of Southern California beginning in 1956 and was an eight-term president of ASCAP from 1962 to 1970. He also served as an advisor on the 1991 Chaplin biopic directed by Richard Attenborough. in a devastating span of three weeks in 2004 that saw the deaths of film music greats Jerry Goldsmith (July 21) and Elmer Bernstein (August 18), Raksin died from heart failure at his home in Los Angeles, age 92.

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