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October 26, 1924
New York City, USA
|Died||February 19, 2020 (aged 95)|
Robert Cobert (October 26, 1924 – February 19, 2020) was an American composer who worked in television and films. He is best known for his work with producer/director Dan Curtis, notably the scores for the massively popular, now-cult 1966–71 ABC-TV gothic fiction soap opera Dark Shadows and the TV mini-series The Winds of War (1983) and its sequel War and Remembrance (1988), for which he received an Emmy Awards nomination. Together, the latter two scores constitute the longest film music ever written for a film.
As a clarinet and saxophone player, he worked summers with a five-piece band in the Catskills' "Borscht Belt" during his college years. Cobert also played clubs in Manhattan, studied for a year at the Juilliard School, and did radio arranging for WOR-Mutual. He also did some early "ghosting," creating industrial-documentary scoring for established commercial composers.
Film and TV work
His early works include Dark Shadows, and the two tie-in films House of Dark Shadows (1970) and Night of Dark Shadows (1971). Cobert composed the scores for the 1972 TV movie The Night Stalker, the sequel The Night Strangler (1973), and the 1974–75 television series Kolchak: The Night Stalker. His other scores include the horror films Burnt Offerings (1976) and Scalpel (1977), the comedy film Me and the Kid (1993), and the television movies The Norliss Tapes (1973), Bram Stoker's Dracula (1974), Scream of the Wolf (1974), Melvin Purvis: G-Man (1974) and the 1975 sequel The Kansas City Massacre, The Turn of the Screw (1974), The Great Ice Rip-Off (1974), Trilogy of Terror (1975), Dead of Night (1977), Curse of the Black Widow (1977), The Last Ride of the Dalton Gang (1979) and Trilogy of Terror II (1996).
Cobert composed themes for game shows, the bulk of them associated with shows produced by Goodson-Todman Productions and Bob Stewart Productions. Of note are themes for To Tell the Truth (1961–1967 theme), Password (1963–1967 theme), Blockbusters (1980–1982 theme), The $25,000 Pyramid (1982 update, also used in 1991, and re-recorded in 2012 and 2016), Your Number's Up (1985 theme), Jackpot (1985–1989 theme) and Chain Reaction (1980, 1986–1991 theme, a re-make of the theme from Supertrain). Cobert scored multiple episodes of the 1963–82 NBC soap opera The Doctors and the 1964–66 ABC daytime soap opera The Young Marrieds, and the 1980–1981 CBS reality series That's My Line.
He composed several pieces for American violist John Peskey, including "Concert Piece for Viola and Small Orchestra"; Peskey commissioned and premiered them with the South Dakota Symphony, plus "Contrasts for Viola and Cello", "3 Moods for 2 Violas", and "Music for Only One Lonely Viola" for Peskey.
1969, the soundtrack to Dark Shadows, credited to the Robert Cobert Orchestra and featuring sixteen tracks written or co-written by Cobert, reached no. 18 on Billboard's Top 200 album chart. The song "Quentin's Theme" earned Cobert a Grammy nomination for Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition, but lost to John Barry's theme to the film Midnight Cowboy. A recording of "Quentin's Theme" by Charles Randolph Grean was released as a single, and in August 1969, peaked at no. 13 on Billboard Hot 100 and no. 3 on their adult contemporary chart.
- Stewart, Zan (1988-11-19). "Bob Cobert Scores His Own Victory in 'War'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2016-10-18.
If the Guinness Book of World Records had an entry for composer of the longest film or TV music score, Bob Cobert would win--hands down.
- Callahan, John P. "Music: Television's Other Dimension." New York Times, 7 June 1964.
- Lavery, David (January 2010). The Essential Cult TV Reader. University Press of Kentucky. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-8131-2568-8. Retrieved 10 August 2010.
- Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 107.
- Burlingame, Jon (February 24, 2020). "Bob Cobert, 'Dark Shadows' and 'Winds of War' Composer, Dies at 95". Variety. Retrieved February 24, 2020.