Leigh Harline

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Leigh Harline
Birth nameLeigh Adrian Harline
Born(1907-03-26)March 26, 1907
Salt Lake City, Utah
OriginSalt Lake City, Utah
DiedDecember 10, 1969(1969-12-10) (aged 62)
Long Beach, California

Leigh Adrian Harline (March 26, 1907 – December 10, 1969) was an American film composer and songwriter. He was known for his "musical sophistication that was uniquely 'Harline-esque' by weaving rich tapestries of mood-setting underscores and penning memorable melodies for animated shorts and features."


Leigh Harline was born March 26, 1907, in Salt Lake City, Utah, the youngest of 13 children, to soldier Carl Härlin and his wife Johanna Matilda. His parents came from the village of Härfsta in Simtuna parish, Sweden. They joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1888 and moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1891. In the U.S., they changed their surname to Harline. Leigh was baptized a member of the LDS Church at age eight.[1]

Harline graduated from the University of Utah and studied piano and organ with Mormon Tabernacle Choir conductor J. Spencer Cornwall. In 1928, he moved to California and worked at radio stations in San Francisco and Los Angeles as a composer, conductor, arranger, instrumentalist, singer, and announcer. In 1931, he provided music for the first transcontinental radio broadcast to originate from the West Coast. He was then hired by Walt Disney where he scored more than 50 tunes, including for the Silly Symphonies cartoon series in the 1930s.

Harline co-scored and orchestrated music by Frank Churchill and Paul Smith specifically for Disney's first animated feature-length cartoon Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. Snow White contained several classic songs by Churchill and lyricist Larry Morey, including "I'm Wishing", "Whistle While You Work", "Heigh-Ho", and "Some Day My Prince Will Come."[2][3]

Harline re-teamed with Smith again to compose the score for Pinocchio for Disney in 1940. He also wrote most of the movie's songs with lyricist Ned Washington. The film won the Academy Award for Best Original Music Score and won both Harline and Washington the Academy Award for Best Original Song for the song "When You Wish Upon a Star".[2][3] The song went on to be featured on Disney's opening logo since 1985 and serve as the official theme song of the Walt Disney Company.

Harline left Disney in 1941 to compose for other studios. His major credits include Mr. Bug Goes to Town (1941) for Disney's chief competitor Max Fleischer, the Astaire-Hayworth musical You Were Never Lovelier (1942), as well as Road to Utopia (1945), Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948), The Desert Rats (1953), The Enemy Below (1957), Ten North Frederick (1958), Warlock (1959), The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962), The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters (1963), and 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964).

He died from complications of throat cancer on December 10, 1969, in Long Beach, California, and is buried in Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery.

Selected filmography[edit]



  1. ^ "Mormon Arts Festival 1995 Archive - Merrill Bradshaw".
  2. ^ a b Erickson, H. (2015). "Leigh Harline". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2015-06-30. Retrieved 2015-06-27.
  3. ^ a b Erickson, H. "Leigh Harline". AllMovie. Retrieved 2015-06-27.

Soundtrack Magazine, Vol. 8/No. 31 1989 by Ross Care

External links[edit]