Brendan R. Wehrung
2004-08-10 02:48:07 UTC
Aug 9, 9:18 PM (ET)
LOS ANGELES (AP) - David Raksin, an Oscar-nominated composer who arranged
music for Charlie Chaplin's silent classic "Modern Times" and wrote the
memorable theme for 1944's "Laura," died Monday, his son said. He was 92.
Raksin, who had been ailing for several years and had early stage
Alzheimer's disease, died at his Van Nuys home, according to son Alex Raksin.
Although he wrote music for nearly 170 films and television shows, he is
best known for the theme song to "Laura," a murder mystery directed by
He wrote it after his first wife separated from him.
"She wrote him a 'Dear John' letter, and he only had two days to write the
score or else they were going to use another. He turned to the letter for
inspiration," Alex Raksin said. "The studio saw a mystery. ... He saw a
After the film debuted, Johnny Mercer wrote lyrics for the song, which was
later performed by Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney and Ella Fitzgerald
Raksin received Academy Award music nominations for 1947's "Forever
Amber," a drama set in the 1600s, and 1958's "Separate Tables," a romance.
Raksin was born Aug. 4, 1912, in Philadelphia and was educated at the
University of Pennsylvania.
At 23, Raksin came to Hollywood to work with Chaplin, after toiling in
dance bands and arranging for Broadway shows. He told the Los Angeles
Times in 2002 that while working on "Modern Times," he transcribed
Chaplin's hummed and whistled tunes and arranged them into a score.
His other credits include music for "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"
(1947), "Force of Evil" (1948), "The Bad and the Beautiful" (1952),
"Apache" (1954), and the TV shows "Wagon Train" (1957), "Ben Casey" (1961)
and "Medical Center" (1969), as well as the 1983 nuclear-apocalypse TV
movie "The Day After."
He also worked as a music professor at the University of Southern