Jack Elliott, an arranger, composer and conductor who worked on numerous hit television shows and movies, died Saturday of a brain tumor at UCLA Medical Center. He was 74.
He had been diagnosed with the tumor three weeks ago while working as musical director of the Henry Mancini Institute, which brings talented young musicians from around the world to Los Angeles for a summer training program.
Mancini Musicale, a tribute to Quincy Jones as part of the institute’s fifth anniversary, was held Saturday night in front of the Paramount Studios gate. Jones paid tribute to Elliott at the event, crediting him as one of those responsible for Jones’ arrival and success in Hollywood.
Elliott was born Irwin Elliott Zucker in Hartford, Conn., and graduated from the Hartt School of Music at the U. of Hartford.
He worked as a jazz pianist in New York at the Stork Club, among other places, and lived in Paris in the 1950s, where he developed friendships with other expatriate musicians, including Jones.
Elliott came to Los Angeles in the 1960s to work as a musical arranger on Judy Garland’s CBS television series, and also worked as musical director for Andy Williams on his NBC program.
He later gained a reputation as one of the top composers and arrangers in Hollywood. If a TV show was popular in the 1970s, it most likely featured the music of Elliott and his frequent collaborator, Allyn Ferguson. Those shows included “Police Story,” “Barney Miller,” “Starsky and Hutch,” “Charlie’s Angels” and “The Love Boat.”
Teamed with Reiner
He also worked in films and teamed with director Carl Reiner on several projects, including “The Comic,” “Where’s Poppa?” “The Jerk” and “Oh God.”
Elliott served as music director for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, writing the music for the opening and closing ceremonies as well as conducting the orchestra. In addition, he became the musical director of choice for big TV events, such as the Academy Awards, Emmys and Kennedy Center Honors.
In the 1970s he founded the New American Orchestra, which commissioned and performed new compositions, mainly from American jazz composers. A 1993 release by the orchestra, under its new name, the American Jazz Philharmonic, was nominated for a Grammy in the category of jazz instrumental solo.
“Music and musicians were his passion,” said Elliott’s wife of 39 years, Bobbi.
In addition to his wife, Elliott is survived by sons Alan, a composer and musician, and Jon, a commercial agent; and a daughter, Joanna, who works for the Music Center’s Fraternity of Friends.
Family requests that any donations be made to the Henry Mancini Institute, P.O. Box 34575, Los Angeles, CA 90034-0575.
A memorial service will be held Tuesday at 6 p.m. on the CBS Television City lot.