Composer-orchestrator Arthur Morton, who worked in movie music for more than six decades, died April 15, at his Santa Monica home. He was 91 and had been in deteriorating health since suffering a stroke three years ago.
Morton scored dozens of movies and hundreds of TV shows on his own, but he was best-known as an orchestrator for other composers, including Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, George Duning, David Raksin, Alfred Newman and Hugo Friedhofer.
Born in Duluth, Minn., he studied at the U. of Minnesota and worked his way through school by playing in a jazz band and writing arrangements. He moved to Los Angeles in 1934 and scored his first film, “Night Life of the Gods,” for Universal in 1935.
Morton spent much of the 1940s and ’50s at Fox and Columbia. At Fox, he orchestrated such classics as “Laura” and “The Lodger,” while at Col he orchestrated many more, including “Picnic” and “The Lady From Shanghai.” His Columbia films as composer included 1954’s “Pushover” and 1956’s “He Laughed Last,” the latter including both songs and score.
Shifting into television in the late 1950s, Morton wrote the Copland-style Americana music for the Western “Black Saddle” and the lyrical theme for Fox’s TV version of “Bus Stop.”
From 1964-69, he scored more than 400 episodes of the nighttime soap “Peyton Place.” His other series as composer included “Shirley Temple’s Storybook,” “Medical Center,” “The Waltons,” “Apple’s Way” and “Medical Story.”
Morton also wrote several concert works in the ’30s and early ’40s, including “Variations on a Theme of Vittoria,” “Tango” and a ballet, “The New Deal.”
In recent years, Morton worked mostly for Goldsmith, orchestrating nearly all of his films beginning with “Take Her, She’s Mine” in 1963 and continuing through “Star Trek: First Contact” in 1996.
Survivors include four children, six grandchildren, a great-grandson and a brother.