Richard P. “Dick” Hazard, longtime composer, arranger and orchestrator, died Dec. 20 of natural causes at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He was 79.
A native of Trenton, N.J., he grew up in Bucks County, Pa., graduated as a chemical engineer from Lehigh U. and was brought out to California during WWII to work on the war effort’s synthetic rubber projects.
Meanwhile, he started working in nightclubs. After the war he studied music at USC and landed his first professional job, with “The Hoagy Carmichael Radio Show.” He was soon arranging for the likes of Peggy Lee, Herb Jeffries and Jane Morgan.
He composed the music for numerous films including early efforts such as “Disc Jockey” (1951), “Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla” (1952) and “Calypso Joe” (1957).
As an orchestrator, conductor and music adapter, Hazard worked on films including “Xanadu” (1980), “Looker” (1981), “Six Weeks” (1982), “Airplane II: The Sequel” (1982), “Terms of Endearment” (1983), “The Color Purple” (1985) and “The Experts” (1989).
He composed the music for the TV series “The Wild, Wild West” in 1965 and also worked on “Mannix,” “Mission: Impossible” and the theme for “Good Morning America.”
Hazard is survived by his wife of 50 years, singer Jeanne Taylor, and two sons.
Family suggests donations in Hazard’s name be made to the Society of Singers, Suite 250, 8242 Third Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048.