Five-time Oscar nominee George Duning, a film and TV music arranger and scorer from Hollywood’s Golden Age, died Sunday in a San Diego hospital of cardiovascular disease. He was 92.
Duning’s first Academy Award nomination for best score was for the 1949 box office champ “Jolson Sings Again.” Succeeding Oscar noms were “No Sad Songs for Me” (1950), “From Here to Eternity” (1952), “Picnic” (1954) and “The Eddy Duchin Story” (1956).
Duning achieved his greatest success while ensconced at Columbia Pictures where he worked with that studio’s musical director Morris Stoloff. Beginning in 1947, Duning wrote an average of six scores a year until he left the studio in 1962. Some of his other memorable scores included “That Touch of Mink,” “Bell, Book and Candle,” “Pal Joey,” “Gidget” and “The World of Suzie Wong.”
Following Columbia, Duning wrote extensively for television series including “The Farmer’s Daughter” and “Naked City.”
Born in Richmond, Ind., to musical parents (his father was an oratorio singer and conductor), Duning studied theory at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and composition under Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.
He began his musical career as a trumpet player for various jazz, marching and concert bands. Duning’s first real break came when he landed the position of musical director/supervisor of the NBC Lucky Strike radio show, “Kay Kyser’s Kollege of Musical Knowledge,” during the late 1930s. When Kyser left the show to star in Hollywood films, Duning was signed as a musical arranger.
During World War II, Duning served in the U.S. Navy and spent three years conducting and arranging for the Armed Forces Radio Service. Following the war, he joined Columbia Pictures.
Active in the music industry, Duning served on the ASCAP board of directors from 1972 to 1985 and as ASCAP vice president from 1978 to 1979. He was also a board member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and other industry organizations.
Duning is survived by his wife, Lois, two daughters, five grandchildren and a brother.