Composer Richard Stone, who won seven Emmys for his work on “Animaniacs” and other animated TV shows, died Friday at his West Hills home after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 47.
Stone was widely considered the modern-day successor to Carl Stalling, whose wild musical scores accompanied many of the classic Warner Bros. cartoons of the ’40s and ’50s.
Since 1994, he had won Daytime Emmy Awards for his theme music for “Animaniacs” and “Freakazoid” and five others for music direction and composition on “Animaniacs” and “Histeria!”
He also scored many episodes of “Pinky and the Brain” and “Tazmania,” including the title themes for both, and penned the themes for “Road Rovers” and “The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries.”
Stone scored well over 100 cartoons since beginning his animation-music career on the Steven Spielberg-produced “Tiny Toon Adventures” in 1991. He helped to revive the Stalling tradition of fully orchestrated scores for animation, synchronizing music to character movement and incorporating a sly musical sense of humor.
He was drawn to the music in theatrical cartoons, particularly the Stalling scores for Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck and company. The Philadelphia native was exposed to music through his father’s piano playing and his maternal grandfather’s job as music critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Stone studied cello and music theory at the Curtis Institute and Indiana U. He moved to California in 1980 and spent his first several years in the business as a music editor for such composers as Georges Delerue (on “Platoon” and other films) and Maurice Jarre (on “Witness”).
He went on to write music for various feature films and television projects, including the cult classics “Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat” and “Pumpkinhead,” as well as “North Shore” and the miniseries “In a Child’s Name.”
Stone is survived by two sons, a brother and sister, his mother, and two former wives.
A memorial service will be scheduled within the next few weeks. Donations may be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, PO Box 1010, Torrance, CA 90505.