Hoyt Curtin

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Hoyt Stoddard Curtin (September 9, 1922 – December 3, 2000) was an American composer and music producer, the primary musical director for the Hanna-Barbera animation studio from its beginnings with The Ruff & Reddy Show in 1957 until his retirement in 1986, except from 1963–1973, when the primary music director was Ted Nichols.[1][2]

Biography[edit]

Curtin was a native of Downey, California, and had one son, Chris, with his wife Elizabeth.

In the 1950s Curtin was an in-demand composer for TV commercials. He first met Hanna and Barbera when he worked on a Schlitz beer commercial they were producing for MGM in 1957.

"About two weeks later they called and had a lyric they read over the phone. Could I write a tune for it? I called back in 5 minutes and sang it to them ... silence ... uh oh, I bombed out ... the next thing I heard was a deal to record it! Ruff & Reddy. At that moment they had quit at MGM and started their own company. All of our first main titles were done in that fashion. Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw, etc.".[3]

He was the composer of many of the Hanna-Barbera cartoons' popular theme songs, including The Flintstones until 1981, Top Cat, The Jetsons, Jonny Quest, Superfriends, Josie and the Pussycats, The Smurfs and The New Scooby-Doo Movies and all its spinoffs until 1986. Beginning in 1960, Curtin also composed many of the stock tunes used as incidental music in the various Hanna-Barbera series, along with the jingle heard underneath H-B's famous "Swirling Star" closing logo in 1979. He also was the composer for the 1960 animated series Q.T. Hush, one of the first cartoons to appear in color. He also composed two of the tunes heard in the background in Plan 9 From Outer Space, although he was embarrassed by the film's poor cinematic quality.

His other credits include the controversial score for the science-fiction film Mesa of Lost Women, Ed Wood's Jail Bait (as Hoyt Kurtain), and the music for the Sandy Frank cartoon Battle of the Planets for which a soundtrack was released in 2000. It was the last project he worked on before he died in Los Angeles, California on December 3, 2000 at the age of 78. He also composed and conducted the music for Thrillerama Adventure, a two-projector attempt at replicating Cinerama, in 1955 with a 38-piece orchestra.

In a 1999 interview Curtin said, "My pianist, Jack Cookerly,[4] invented the synthesizer as we know it for Jonny Quest. It was made of orange crates with a keyboard and thousands of vacuum tubes! A regular jazz band, (of) 4 trumpets, 6 [trom]bones, 5 woodwind doublers, 5-man rhythm section including percussion"; was used to record the music for the Jonny Quest cartoon. The Jonny Quest session was done "...at RCA in Hollywood. Alvin Stoller or Frankie Capp usually played drums. I always tried to get the same guys where possible. They were the ones who could swing and read like demons."[5]

References[edit]

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