Winston Sharples, ca 1929
|Born||March 1, 1909
Fall River, Massachusetts
|Died||April 3, 1978 (aged 69)
Hilton Head, South Carolina
|Known for||cartoon and film music|
|Spouse(s)||Daisy Josephine Shockley (m 1931)|
Winston Singleton Sharples (March 1, 1909 – April 3, 1978) was an American composer known for his work with animated short subjects, especially those created by the animation department at Paramount Pictures. In his 35-year career Sharples scored more than 700 cartoons for Paramount and Famous Studios, and composed music for two Frank Buck films, Wild Cargo (1934) and Fang and Claw (1935).
Sharples was born in Fall River, Massachusetts to William, a machinist, and Mary Sharples, and was playing piano in vaudeville at the age of eight. Sharples was well educated, with a BA from Harvard University, an M.F.A. in drama from the Carnegie Institute of Technology and continued studies at the Yale University Graduate School of Drama.
Sharples appeared on radio for two years starting in 1930 through 1932, playing the piano on a 15-minute morning program at various stations in Connecticut. He relocated to New York City in 1932, where he played piano and occasionally bass with Vincent Lopez's orchestra.
Film music composer
Sharples replaced Gene Rodemich in scoring cartoons for the Van Beuren Studios in 1932 after Walter Winchell praised his work with Lopez in a column, which was read by studio owner Amadee Van Beuren. Sharples stayed at Van Beuren until 1936, during which time he composed music for two Frank Buck films, Wild Cargo (1934) and Fang and Claw (1935). In 1938 Sharples composed the music for the Max Fleischer full-length animated production of Gulliver's Travels. Several of the songs from that production were used throughout subsequent years in Paramount shorts, with the most notable being "It's A Hap-Hap-Happy Day." He joined ASCAP in 1948. In 1958 Sharples teamed with Joe Oriolo for musical production on the Felix the Cat television series. That series made extensive use of stock music composed for the Paramount shorts as well as Sharples' distinctive theme song.
In the late 1950s Sharples and animation producer Hal Seeger formed a partnership called Scroll Productions that repackaged Sharples' scores from the Paramount cartoons into a stock music library, much like the Capitol Records Hi-Q library. Most of the cues were from late 50's productions, but some dated as far back as the 1952 Popeye cartoon Big Bad Sindbad. Besides the aforementioned Felix the Cat, productions using this stock music included the King Features Syndicate TV cartoons (Popeye, Barney Google, and Beetle Bailey), King Leonardo, and Tennessee Tuxedo. Later Sharples cues were recycled into episodes of Seeger's Batfink. Sharples also composed the theme song for Seeger's Milton the Monster television series in 1965, in addition to using the stock music package for part of the underscore.
Sharples continued at the Paramount cartoon studio, successfully adapting his style to smaller groups and even incorporating jazz and rock and roll styles for the edgier works of Ralph Bakshi, until it closed in 1967.
Among other better-known compositions were Puppets; When You Left Me and What Has She Got That I Haven't Got.
Sharples married Daisy Shockley in 1931 and had a son, Winston Sharples Jr., who worked with his father as a music editor and eventually became a musical director himself on The Mighty Hercules.
- Winston Sharples: Cat and Mouse Melodies and Haunting Refrains, edited by Jerry Beck (1997).
- http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0789301/bio Winston Sharples at Imdb.com