John Morris (composer)
Morris in 2015
John Leonard Morris
October 18, 1926
Elizabeth, New Jersey, U.S.
|Died||January 25, 2018 (aged 91)|
Red Hook, New York, U.S.
|Years active||1963 – 2004|
|Spouse(s)||Francesca Bosetti (1949-2018; his death)|
John Leonard Morris (October 18, 1926 – January 25, 2018) was an American film, television and Broadway composer, dance arranger, conductor, and trained concert pianist. He collaborated with filmmakers Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder.
John Morris was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey to Thomas Morris, an engineer who designed revolving doors for the Tiffany & Co. flagship store in Fifth Avenue, and Helen Sherratt, a homemaker. He became interested in music as early as three years old when he started learning to play the piano and visiting friends in The Bronx with his parents.
His family moved to Independence, Kansas while he was young, and continued studying piano. By the late 1940s, he moved back to New York City, where he studied at both Juilliard School and at The New School for Social Research.
From the 1950s through the 1970s, Morris helped to compose incidental music and dance numbers for a number of Broadway productions, including Wildcat (1960), Hot Spot (1963), Baker Street (1965), Dear World (1969), Mack & Mabel (1974), and Hamlet (1975). He had written and produced his own musical, A Time for Singing, released in 1966.
Morris worked with Mel Brooks, starting with Brooks' first film The Producers. Prior to this, the two had worked together on two musicals, Shinbone Alley (1957) and All-American (1962). Morris did the original arrangement for Springtime for Hitler and the rest of the film's underscore. Morris continued to work with Brooks on twenty of his films, including Blazing Saddles (for which he received a co-writing credit Oscar nomination with Brooks for the film's opening song), Young Frankenstein (for which he scored its famous "Transylvanian Lullaby"), and The Elephant Man (for which he was nominated for a Grammy for its score). Only two of Brooks' films did not feature Morris' music: Robin Hood: Men in Tights and Dracula: Dead and Loving It were both composed by Hummie Mann. In an interview with Film Score Monthly, Brooks explained that Morris couldn't do the music for Men in Tights or Dead and Loving It due to other commitments.
Morris also helped to score films of actors that worked under Brooks when they went off to produce their own films. These included Gene Wilder's The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother, The World's Greatest Lover, The Woman in Red and Haunted Honeymoon, and Marty Feldman's The Last Remake of Beau Geste and In God We Tru$t. Morris further composed the score for a number of other films and televisions shows, including the theme for The French Chef and Coach. He won a Daytime Emmy for his score for the TV miniseries The Tap Dance Kid.
Personal life and death
He was married to Francesca Bosetti, and had two children: his son Evan, who died in 2014 and daughter Bronwen. Morris died on January 25, 2018 in his Red Hook, New York home following complications from a respiratory infection at the age of 91. He was survived by his wife, his daughter, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Brooks said on Morris' death "He was my emotional right arm. Music tells you what to feel and he knew what I wanted you to feel. He composed it and made it happen."
- The Blackwater Lightship (2004) (TV)
- The Lady in Question (1999) (TV)
- Murder in a Small Town (1999) (TV)
- Ellen Foster (1997) (TV)
- World War II: When Lions Roared (1994) (TV)
- Scarlett (1994) (TV)
- Life Stinks (1991)
- Stella (1990)
- Coach (composer: main theme) (1989–97)
- Second Sight (1989)
- The Wash (1988)
- Dirty Dancing (1987)
- Ironweed (1987)
- Spaceballs (1987)
- Haunted Honeymoon (1986)
- Clue (1985)
- The Doctor and the Devils (1985)
- Johnny Dangerously (1984) 
- The Woman in Red (1984)
- To Be or Not to Be (1983)
- Yellowbeard (1983)
- Table for Five (1983)
- History of the World: Part I (1981)
- The Elephant Man (1980, Oscar nomination)
- In God We Tru$t (1980)
- The Scarlet Letter (PBS mini-series 1979/80)
- The In-Laws (1979)
- High Anxiety (1977)
- The World's Greatest Lover (1977)
- The Last Remake of Beau Geste (1977)
- Silent Movie (1976)
- The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother (1975)
- Blazing Saddles (1974)
- Young Frankenstein (1974)
- Bank Shot (1974)
- The Twelve Chairs (1970)
- The Gamblers (1970)
- The Producers (1968)
- A Time for Singing (Broadway Musical, 1966)
- The French Chef (second theme) (1963)
- Sandomir, Richard (January 28, 2018). "John Morris, Composer for Mel Brooks's Films, Dies at 91". The New York Times. Retrieved January 29, 2018.
- Burlingame, Jon (January 28, 2018). "John Morris, 'Blazing Saddles' and 'Young Frankenstein' Composer, Dies at 91". Variety. Retrieved January 29, 2018.
- Clement, Olivia (January 29, 2018). "Oscar-Nominated Composer John Morris Dies at 91". Playbill. Retrieved January 29, 2018.
- Jeffrey K. Howard (August 15, 2001). "Lost Issue Wednesday: Mel Brooks Interview (1997)". Filmscoremonthly.com. Retrieved July 12, 2009.
- "Filmography for John Morris". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
- "John Morris List of Movies and TV Shows". TV Guide. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
- "A Time for Singing". Rnh.com. Retrieved 28 January 2018.