Stanley Wilson (musician)

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Stanley Wilson
Born (1917-11-25)November 25, 1917
New York City, United States
Origin Aspen, Colorado, United States
Died July 12, 1970(1970-07-12) (aged 52)
Genres Film and television music scoring
Occupation(s) Arranger, composer, conductor, director
Years active 1947–1970
Associated acts Count Basie
Elmer Bernstein
Benny Carter
Juan García Esquivel
Percy Faith
Dave Grusin
Quincy Jones
Henry Mancini
Oliver Nelson
Lalo Schifrin
John Williams

Stanley Wilson (November 25, 1917 - July 12, 1970) was an American musical conductor, arranger and film composer.


A native of New York City, Wilson was one of the prolific collaborators in the Hollywood music industry for more than three decades. The creator of original themes and incidental music for several TV series, he also composed, arranged, or orchestrated more than 80 films.

Wilson started his music career as a jazz trumpeter specializing in both Dixieland and Swing style in the 1930s. Following World War II, he joined the MGM music department in 1945, moving a year later to Republic Pictures, where he wrote scores for countless B-movies and serials for the next twelve years. While in Republic, he provided the music support for classic serials as King of the Rocket Men and Zombies of the Stratosphere, as well in exciting adventures featuring western heroes as Rex Allen, Wild Bill Elliott, Allan Lane and Roy Rogers.

In the late 1950s, Wilson became the new television branch of MCA, Inc's. Revue Studios unit as head of creative activities, taking charge of creating music behind all of the studio's productions, hiring and assigning different composers, arrangers, orchestrators and conductors, which were often rolled into a single job. As an executive, Wilson employed significant composers as Elmer Bernstein, Juan García Esquivel, Dave Grusin, Quincy Jones, Henry Mancini, Oliver Nelson and Lalo Schifrin, among others. Toward the end of his career with Universal, he began to dedicate more of his own time to specific shows, composing themes and much of the background music for It Takes a Thief, Wagon Train and The Bold Ones franchise.

Wilson also was the music director for M Squad, the police series starring Lee Marvin, working in collaboration with Count Basie, Sonny Burke, Pete Carpenter, Benny Carter and John Williams. Wilson composed the theme music for the first season, winning the 1959 Grammy Award for the Best Soundtrack Album and Background Score from Motion Picture or Television. For the second and third seasons, he entrusted Basie to compose a new theme.

Wilson along with Esquivel composed the now famous Revue Studios/Universal Television fanfare which lasted for nearly three decades.

Wilson traveled to France in 1963 to record the soundtrack to the television special, Princess Grace's Monaco. After the shooting was finished, he arranged and conducted The World of Sights and Sounds, Stop One: Paris, an album of French standards. This time Wilson was accompanied by a small jazz combo fronted by M Squad colleague and jazz legend, Benny Carter, and included a string section orchestra and a wordless vocal choir led by Michel Legrand's sister, Christiane.

Wilson died of a heart attack in Aspen, Colorado, at the age of 52, moments after addressing the 1970 Aspen Music Festival on the subject of composing for films and television.

Selected collaborations[edit]



TV shows[edit]


  • Wilson rarely featured his talent on records, but today some of his albums are classics of Space age pop and Exotica audiences. This list include:
    • Wagon Train [1] (1957)
    • The Music From M Squad [2] (1959)
    • Themes to Remember [3] (1962)
    • The Lost Man (The Original Soundtrack Album) [4] (1960)
    • Pagan Love [5] (1961)
    • The Great Waltz - American Continental [6] (1961)
    • The World of Sights and Sounds - Stop One: Paris - Charter Records Corp (1963)
    • Alfred Hitchcock Presents Music To Be Murdered By [7] (1980)


  • Karlin, Fred. Listening to Movies (1994). Maxwell Macmillan International ISBN 0-02-873315-0.
  • McNeil, Alex. Total Television (1996). Penguin Books ISBN 0-14-024916-8
  • Brooks, Tim and Marsh, Earle, The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows (1999). Ballantine Books ISBN 0-345-42923-0
  • Lentz, Robert J. Lee Marvin: his films and career (2000). McFarland & Company ISBN 0-7864-0723-9.

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