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Basil Poledouris

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Basil Poledouris
Background information
Birth nameBasil Konstantine Poledouris
Born(1945-08-21)August 21, 1945
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
DiedNovember 8, 2006(2006-11-08) (aged 61)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
GenresFilm score, Classical Music
Occupation(s)Composer, conductor
Instrument(s)Piano, orchestra, synthesizer
Years active1970–2006

Basil Konstantine Poledouris (/ˌpɒlɪˈdɔːrɪs/; August 21, 1945 – November 8, 2006) was an American composer, conductor, and orchestrator of film and television scores,[1] best known for his long-running collaborations with directors John Milius and Paul Verhoeven. Among his works are scores for the films Conan the Barbarian (1982), Red Dawn (1984), Iron Eagle (1986), RoboCop (1987), The Hunt for Red October (1990), Free Willy (1993), Starship Troopers (1997) and Les Misérables (1998).

Poledouris won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Composition for a Limited Series, Movie, or Special for his work on the four-part miniseries Lonesome Dove in 1989, and was a four-time recipient of the BMI Film Music Award.

Life and career


Born in Kansas City, Missouri, to Greek immigrant parents from Messenia, he credited two influences with guiding him towards music: the first was composer Miklós Rózsa; the second his own Greek Orthodox heritage. Poledouris was raised in the Church, and he used to sit in services enthralled by the choir's sound.[2] At the age of seven, Poledouris began piano lessons, and after graduation from Garden Grove High School, he enrolled at the University of Southern California to study both filmmaking and music. Several short films to which he contributed are still kept in the university's archives. At USC, Poledouris met movie directors John Milius and Randal Kleiser, with whom he would later collaborate as a music composer. He appeared as a background extra in several episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series.[3] In 1985, Poledouris wrote the music for Paul Verhoeven's Flesh & Blood, establishing a durable collaboration.

Poledouris became renowned for his powerfully epic style of orchestral composition and his intricate thematic designs. He scored the soundtrack for The Blue Lagoon (1980; dir: Kleiser); Conan the Barbarian (1982; dir: Milius); Conan the Destroyer (1984); Red Dawn (1984; dir: Milius), Iron Eagle (1986); RoboCop (1987; dir: Verhoeven); The Hunt for Red October (1990); Quigley Down Under (1990 Simon Wincer); Free Willy (1993) and its first sequel Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home (1995); Starship Troopers (1997; dir: Verhoeven); and For Love of the Game (1999).

Poledouris' studio, "Blowtorch Flats", was located in Venice, California, and was a professional mixing facility specializing in film and media production.

Poledouris married his wife Bobbie in 1969; they had two daughters, Zoë and Alexis. His elder daughter, Zoë Poledouris, is an actress and film composer, who occasionally collaborated with her father in composing film soundtracks.

In 1996, Poledouris composed "The Tradition of the Games"[4] for the Atlanta Olympics opening ceremony that accompanied the memorable dance tribute[5] to the athletes and goddesses of victory of the ancient Greek Olympics using silhouette imagery.[6]

Poledouris spent the last four years of his life residing on Vashon Island, in Washington state. He died on November 8, 2006, in Los Angeles, California, aged 61, from lung cancer.[7] [8]

Awards and nominations

  • Winner Best Score for Miniseries – Emmy Awards (Lonesome Dove)
  • Nominee Best Score – Saturn Awards (Conan the Barbarian)
  • Winner Special Recognition Music Award – BMI Film & TV Awards (Olympic Tribute for "The Tradition of the Games")
  • Winner Film Music Award – BMI Awards (Free Willy)
  • Winner Film Music Award – BMI Awards (The Hunt for Red October)
  • Winner TV Music Award – BMI Awards (Lonesome Dove)
  • Winner Film Music Award – BMI Awards (RoboCop)




Year Title Director Studio(s) Notes
1970 The Reversal of Richard Sun John Milius USC School of Cinematic Arts Student film
1973 Hollywood 90028 Christina Hornisher Parker National Distribution
Extreme Close-Up Jeannot Szwarc General Cinema Corporation
1974 Vrooom Ken Rudolph Pyramid Films
1977 Tintorera René Cardona Jr. Hemdale Film Corporation
United Film Distribution
1978 Big Wednesday John Milius Warner Bros.
1980 The Blue Lagoon Randal Kleiser Columbia Pictures
1982 Conan the Barbarian John Milius De Laurentiis Entertainment Group
Universal Pictures (North America)
20th Century Fox (International)
Saturn Award for Best Music
Summer Lovers Randal Kleiser Filmways Pictures
1984 Making the Grade Dorian Walker Cannon Films
Conan the Destroyer Richard Fleischer De Laurentiis Entertainment Group
Universal Pictures
Red Dawn John Milius United Artists
Protocol Herbert Ross Warner Bros.
1985 Flesh & Blood Paul Verhoeven Orion Pictures
1986 Iron Eagle Sidney J. Furie TriStar Pictures
1987 RoboCop Paul Verhoeven Orion Pictures Won:
BMI Film Music Award
No Man's Land Peter Werner
1988 Cherry 2000 Steve De Jarnatt
Spellbinder Janet Greek Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Split Decisions David Drury New Century Entertainment
1989 Wired Larry Peerce Taurus Entertainment
Farewell to the King John Milius Orion Pictures
1990 The Hunt for Red October John McTiernan Paramount Pictures Won:
BMI Film Music Award
Quigley Down Under Simon Wincer Pathé
1991 Flight of the Intruder John Milius Paramount Pictures
White Fang Randal Kleiser Walt Disney Pictures with Hans Zimmer
Return to the Blue Lagoon William A. Graham Columbia Pictures
Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man Simon Wincer Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
1992 Wind Carroll Ballard TriStar Pictures
1993 Hot Shots! Part Deux Jim Abrahams 20th Century Fox
Free Willy Simon Wincer Le Studio Canal+
Regency Enterprises
Warner Bros. Family Entertainment
BMI Film Music Award
RoboCop 3 Fred Dekker Orion Pictures
1994 On Deadly Ground Steven Seagal Warner Bros.
Serial Mom John Waters Savoy Pictures
Lassie Daniel Petrie Western Publishing
Paramount Pictures
Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book Stephen Sommers Walt Disney Pictures
1995 Under Siege 2: Dark Territory Geoff Murphy Regency Enterprises
Warner Bros.
Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home Dwight H. Little Le Studio Canal+
Regency Enterprises
Warner Bros. Family Entertainment
1996 It's My Party Randal Kleiser United Artists
Celtic Pride Tom DeCerchio Caravan Pictures
Hollywood Pictures
Amanda Bobby Roth
The War at Home Emilio Estevez Touchstone Pictures
1997 Breakdown Jonathan Mostow Dino De Laurentiis Company
Paramount Pictures
Switchback Jeb Stuart Rysher Entertainment
Paramount Pictures
Starship Troopers Paul Verhoeven TriStar Pictures (North America)
Touchstone Pictures (International)
1998 Les Misérables Bille August Mandalay Entertainment
Columbia Pictures
1999 Mickey Blue Eyes Kelly Makin Castle Rock Entertainment
Warner Bros. (US)
Universal Pictures (UK)
Kimberly Frederic Golchan Cinerenta Medienbeteiligungs KG
Ardustry Home Entertainment
For Love of the Game Sam Raimi Renaissance Pictures
Beacon Pictures
Tig Productions
Universal Pictures
2000 Cecil B. Demented John Waters Le Studio Canal+
Artisan Entertainment
2001 Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles Simon Wincer Paramount Pictures
2002 The Touch Peter Pau Miramax Films


Year Title Network(s) Notes
1971 Congratulations, It's a Boy! ABC Television film
1981 A Whale for the Killing
Fire on the Mountain NBC
1984 Amazons ABC
Single Bars, Single Women
1985 Alfred Hitchcock Presents NBC Pilot episode
Misfits of Science 2 episodes
1985-86 The Twilight Zone CBS 3 episodes
1987 Prison for Children Television film
Amerika ABC Miniseries;
7 episodes
1988 Intrigue CBS Television film
1989 Lonesome Dove Miniseries;
4 episodes

Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Composition
for a Limited Series, Movie, or Special

1989-90 Nasty Boys NBC 13 episodes
1992 Ned Blessing: The True Story of My Life CBS Television film
2000 If These Walls Could Talk 2 HBO
2001 Love and Treason CBS
2004 The Legend of Butch & Sundance NBC

Other works



  1. ^ Nelson, Valerie J. (2006-11-10). "Basil Poledouris, 61; film composer known for his bold sounds". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2018-11-13.
  2. ^ Rhodes, S. Mark. "A Sprig of Basil: The Musical Mastery of Basil Poledouris Archived October 23, 2006, at the Wayback Machine." Film Score Monthly, Volume 9, Number 4, 2004.
  3. ^ "Basil Poledouris". Memory Alpha. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  4. ^ a b Basil Poledouris. "1996 Olympics Opening Ceremony – Honor and Glory CD Audio". Basil Poledouris website. Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2008-02-19.
  5. ^ "Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games opening ceremony via Youtube (video)". CBC TV via YouTube. 18 May 2020. Archived from the original on 2023-10-07. Retrieved 2023-10-06.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  6. ^ "Basil Poledouris Biography". Basil Poledouris website. Archived from the original on 20 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-19.
  7. ^ "Finding Family with Basil Poledouris". 22 May 2016.
  8. ^ "Basil Poledouris 1945 – 2006." Basil Poledouris Message Board, 8 November 2006.