Shirley Walker

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Shirley Walker
Birth nameShirley Anne Rogers
Born(1945-04-10)April 10, 1945
Napa, California, U.S.
DiedNovember 30, 2006(2006-11-30) (aged 61)
Reno, Nevada, U.S.
GenresFilm scores: Action, Horror, Thriller, Drama, Science fiction[1]
Occupation(s)Composer, conductor, orchestrator, music arranger[2]
Years active1979–2006
WebsiteOfficial site

Shirley Anne Walker (née Rogers; April 10, 1945 – November 30, 2006) was an American film and television composer and conductor. She was one of the few female film score composers working in Hollywood. Walker was one of the first female composers to earn a solo score credit on a major Hollywood motion picture (preceded by Suzanne Ciani, who wrote the complete score to the film The Incredible Shrinking Woman in 1980, released January 1981) and according to the Los Angeles Times, will be remembered as a pioneer for women in the film industry.[1][3]

She wrote her film scores entirely by hand.[4] She always orchestrated and conducted her own scores by herself.

The ASCAP Shirley Walker Award was created in her honor in 2014.

Life and career[edit]

Walker (née Rogers)[5] was born in Napa, California on April 10, 1945. Walker was a piano soloist with the San Francisco Symphony during high school, and later attended San Francisco State University on a piano scholarship.[6] She studied music composition under Roger Nixon and piano studies with Harald Logan of Berkeley, California.[7] For several years, she wrote jingles and composed for industrial films.

Walker's career in film began in 1979, when she was hired to play the synthesizers on Carmine Coppola's score for Apocalypse Now.[8] In 1992, Walker became one of the first female composers to earn a solo score credit on a major Hollywood motion picture - for John Carpenter's Memoirs of an Invisible Man (one of Carpenter's few movies he did not score himself - Walker later collaborated with Carpenter on Escape From L.A.).[1][3] Shirley Walker served as composer for numerous productions, including films such as Willard, the first three Final Destination movies, and television series such as Falcon Crest, Space: Above and Beyond, China Beach, and The Flash.[2] The Flash was one of many collaborations Walker did with composer Danny Elfman. She was his conductor on projects such as Scrooged and Batman.[9]

She served as a Board Member (1986–1994) and Vice President (1988–1992) for The Society of Composers & Lyricists (SCL), often speaking out on behalf of composers and their working conditions.[10] Articles and interviews are written by and about Shirley Walker in the SCL's publication, THE SCORE, a publication in print since 1986 by and about professional film/television/video game composers, songwriters and lyricists—and where Shirley spoke her mind.

Her association with DC Comics extended to television where she served as composer for Batman: The Animated Series (1992–1995), Superman: The Animated Series (1996–2000), The New Batman Adventures (1997–1999), and Batman Beyond (1999–2001); setting a standard for the musical tone of the DC Animated Universe.[9]

Despite the fact that very few female composers had worked in Hollywood at the time of her death, Shirley Walker was not recognized during the "In Memoriam" segment of the 79th Academy Awards.[11]

Walker worked with Danny Elfman on many DC Comics works. She served as conductor for the film Batman, wrote most of the scores for Batman: The Animated Series using a theme inspired by Elfman's, scored the pilot and all the episodes of The Flash (the main theme was written by Elfman) and scored episodes of Batman Beyond with Michael McCuistion, Lolita Ritmanis and Kristopher Carter. Though her involvement in the DC Animated Universe ended after Beyond, several of her themes would be used in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited.


Shirley Walker died on November 30, 2006, at Washoe Medical Center in Reno, Nevada, due to complications from a stroke that she had experienced two weeks before.[8] She died only eight months after the death of her husband Don.[6] At the time of her death, Walker had scored more major-studio motion pictures than any other American woman.[8] A memorial service was held at the Warner Bros. Eastwood Scoring Stage, and a plaque was placed in her honor.[12]


In 1996, Shirley Walker won her first Daytime Emmy Award as music director for Batman: The Animated Series.[8] She won another Daytime Emmy in music-composition for Batman Beyond in 2001.

In 2014, ASCAP presented its first Shirley Walker Award, honoring those whose achievements have contributed to the diversity of film and television music.[13] Recipients include Wendy & Lisa, Germaine Franco and Deborah Lurie.

Film scores[edit]

Year Title Info Limited? Label OOP / SOLD OUT
2006 Black Christmas Final score before her death. Replaced Vince Lauria. NO CD
Final Destination 3 NO CD
2003 Willard Full album released in 2013 3,000 La La Land Records
Final Destination 2 Promotional CD released. NO CD
2002 Ritual NO CD
2000 Final Destination Complete score isolated on a DVD release, with commentary over parts. A shorter promotional CD-R was also issued. NO CD
1999 Mystery Men Additional music only. Majority of score by Stephen Warbeck NO CD
1997 Turbulence Full CD released in 2013 2,000 La La Land Records
1996 Escape from L.A. Co-composed with John Carpenter, and Alan Howarth No Milan Records OOP (Expanded score released in 2014 by La-La Land Records)
1994 True Lies Co-composed with Brad Fiedel Epic Soundtrax OOP
1993 Batman: Mask of the Phantasm Expanded score released in 2009 3,000 Reprise Records (1993)
La La Land Records (2009)
1992 Memoirs of an Invisible Man Replaced Jack Nitzsche No Varèse Sarabande OOP
1991 Born to Ride NO CD
White Fang One cue only. Score by Hans Zimmer & Basil Poledouris. Intrada Records SOLD OUT
1990 Chicago Joe and the Showgirl As Walker stated in an interview, for legal reasons Hans Zimmer had to take credit, but she was the one who composed the score. NO CD
Pacific Heights Additional music only. Score by Hans Zimmer. Varèse Sarabande SOLD OUT
Strike It Rich NO CD
1989 Nightbreed Additional music only. Score by Danny Elfman. MCA Records SOLD OUT
1985 Ghoulies Co-composed with Richard Band Intrada Records
1984 The Dungeonmaster Co-composed with Richard Band Intrada Records
Violated Unused score NO CD
1983 Touched NO CD
1982 The End of August NO CD
1979 The Black Stallion Co-composed with Carmine Coppola; some additional scoring by: Nyle Steiner, Bill Douglass, Kenneth Nash, & George Marsh. Replaced two other composers. 1,500 Intrada Records SOLD OUT

Television scores (partial)[edit]

Year Title Info Limited? Label OOP / SOLD OUT
1980 Lou Grant Episodes:
"Guns" (season 3)
"Hazard" (season 3)
1981 Cagney & Lacey All Episodes:
"The Rapist: Part 1"
"The Rapist: Part 2"
"The Gimp"
1982 Tucker's Witch All Episodes:
"Abra Cadaver" (episode six)
1985 Berrenger's One episode (unknown title) NO CD
1986 Fluppy Dogs Walt Disney Television Animation Episode: Pilot NO CD
1984 to 1988 Falcon Crest All Episodes:
"Pain and Pleasure" (season 4)
"The Showdown" (season 4)
"The Decline" (season 4)
"Echoes" (season 5)
"Changing Partners" (season 5)
"Inconceivable Affairs" (season 5)
"Checkmate" (season 5)
"Shattered Dreams" (season 5)
"Finders and Losers" (season 5)
"Dangerous Ground" (season 5)
"Tuscany Venus" (season 8)
"Suspicion" (season 8)
1988 Knots Landing Incomplete episodes:
"The Blushing Bride"
1990 Tiny Toons Rejected score for one segment in an episode. NO CD
1990 The Flash NO CD
1992 Batman: The Animated Series Over 34 episodes plus second opening theme.
In July, 2012, Volume 2, a 4-CD set, was issued. A third volume, also a 4-CD set, was released in 2014.
3,000 La La Land Records SOLD OUT (re-issued July, 2012)
1994 M.A.N.T.I.S. Rejected score, unknown episode. No other scores for the series. NO CD
1994 Viper All Episodes (season 1 only):
"Safe as Houses"
"The Face"
"Wheels of Fire"
"Past Tense"
"Thief of Hearts"
"Crown of Thorns"
1995 Space: Above and Beyond Theme and all episodes. 3,000 La La Land Records
1995 The Adventures of Captain Zoom in Outer Space NO CD
1996 Superman: The Animated Series Select episodes, main title theme and thematic elements. 3,000 La La Land Records
1997 Spawn: The Animated Series Theme and multiple episodes (possibly all of season 1) NO CD
1997 The Love Bug NO CD
1998 Baby Monitor: Sound Of Fear NO CD
2000 The Others NO CD
2002 Disappearance NO CD

Works for other composers[edit]

Year Film Conductor Orchestrator Original composer Notes
1979 The Black Stallion No Yes Carmine Coppola Also co-composer
1980 Murder in Coweta Country (TV) Yes No Brad Fiedel
Amber Waves (TV) No Yes John Rubinstein
1983 Right of Way (TV) Yes No Brad Fiedel
Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn Yes No Richard Band
Swordkill Yes Yes
Cujo Yes No Charles Bernstein
1984 Ragewar Yes No Richard Band
Anatomy of an Illness (TV) Yes No Brad Fiedel
1986 Children of a Lesser God Yes Yes Michael Convertino
1987 Malone No Yes David Newman
1988 The Accused Yes Yes Brad Fiedel
Scrooged Yes No Danny Elfman
Ernest Saves Christmas No Yes Mark Snow
Little Miss 4th of July (TV) No Yes
1989 National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation No No Angelo Badalamenti Uncredited
Batman Yes Yes Danny Elfman Also co-composer
Fletch Lives Yes No Harold Faltermeyer
Immediate Family Yes No Brad Fiedel
Red Earth, White Earth (TV) No Yes Ralph Grierson
Paint It Black Yes Yes Jürgen Knieper
Kill Me Again Yes No William Olvis
Black Rain Yes Yes Hans Zimmer
1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles No No John Du Prez Uncredited
Nightbreed Yes Yes Danny Elfman Also co-composer
Dick Tracy Yes Yes
Edward Scissorhands Yes No
Defending Your Life Yes Yes Michael Gore
Arachnophobia Yes Yes Trevor Jones
El Diablo (TV) Yes Yes William Olvis
Child's Play 2 Yes Yes Graeme Revell
Bird on a Wire Yes Yes Hans Zimmer
Days of Thunder Yes Yes
Pacific Heights Yes Yes Also co-composer
1991 The Butcher's Wife Yes Yes Michael Gore
True Identity Yes No Marc Marder
White Fang Yes Yes Basil Poledouris & Hans Zimmer
Backdraft Yes Yes Hans Zimmer
1992 Article 99 Yes No Danny Elfman
Gladiator Yes No Brad Fiedel
Straight Talk Yes No
Radio Flyer Yes Yes Hans Zimmer
A League of Their Own Yes Yes
Toys Yes Yes
1993 The Real McCoy Yes No Brad Fiedel
Striking Distance Yes Yes
1994 Renaissance Man Yes No Hans Zimmer
True Lies Yes Yes Brad Fiedel
1995 Bad Company No Yes Carter Burwell
A Goofy Movie Yes Yes Carter Burwell & Don Davis Burwell's score only. Don Davis orchestrated and conducted his own cues.
Johnny Mnemonic No No Brad Fiedel Uncredited
Batman Forever No No Elliot Goldenthal Uncredited
Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home Yes No Basil Poledouris
1996 Fear Yes Yes Carter Burwell Last orchestration work for another composer.
Eden Yes No Brad Fiedel
Rasputin (TV) Yes No Last conducting work for another composer.


  1. ^ a b c Southern, Nathan. "Biography: Shirley Walker". allmovie. Retrieved 2008-09-12.
  2. ^ a b "Shirley Walker Credits". Variety. Archived from the original on 2009-12-25. Retrieved 2008-09-12.
  3. ^ a b UPI staff writer (2006-12-26). "Film composer Shirley Walker dies at 61". United Press International. Retrieved 2008-09-12.
  4. ^ Goldwasser, Dan (2006-01-05). "Shirley Walker's Final Destination 3 kicks off 2006 with a scream". Retrieved 2008-09-13.
  5. ^ Pleasant Hill High School Yearbook 1963. 1963. p. 153.
  6. ^ a b Nelson, Valerie J. (2006-12-26). "OBITUARIES; Shirley Walker, 61; won Emmys for film scores". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-09-12.
  7. ^ Doyle, Jim (2006-12-10). "Shirley Walker -- film score composer". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-09-12.
  8. ^ a b c d Burlingame, Jon (2006-12-04). "Composer Walker dies". Variety. Retrieved 2008-09-12.
  9. ^ a b Ball, Ryan (2006-12-01). "Cartoon Composer Shirley Walker Dies". Animation Magazine. Retrieved 2008-09-13.
  10. ^ "In Memoriam: Shirley Walker". The Society of Composers & Lyricists. Retrieved 2008-09-13.
  11. ^ Goldwasser, Dan. "Shirley Walker to be overlooked at the Oscars". SoundtrackNet. Retrieved 2008-09-12.
  12. ^ Burlingame, Jon (2007-03-14). "Shirley Walker Memorial". The Film Music Society. Retrieved 2008-09-12.
  13. ^ "ASCAP to Honor Wendy Melvoin & Lisa Coleman with Inaugural Shirley Walker Award at 29th Film & TV Awards" (Press release). New York, New York: ASCAP. Bobbi Marcus PR & Events, Inc. June 2, 2014. Retrieved August 17, 2018.

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