George Wyle, who directed and arranged music for singers such as Andy Williams and wrote the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song, died of leukemia Friday May 2 in Tarzana, Calif. He was 87.
Wyle also wrote the Christmas classic “`The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and dozens of other songs.
“The Ballad of Gilligan’s Island,” which he wrote in one sitting with show creator-producer Sherwood Schwartz, is one of the most recognizable TV theme songs. The tale of seven castaways debuted on CBS in 1964 and became one of the most successful syndicated series in TV history.
In recent years, Wyle wrote music and lyrics and directed choirs for community groups and schools in Thousand Oaks, just north of Los Angeles.
He was born Bernard Weissman in New York City and began playing piano at clubs in the Catskill Mountains. He moved to Los Angeles in 1946 to write and conduct music for the “Alan Young Radio Show,” where producers insisted he change his name.
Wyle also worked as choral director for TV shows such as “The Dinah Shore Show,” “The Jerry Lewis Show” and “The Andy Williams Show.”
He also handled music for specials by magician David Copperfield and Carol Channing and for the People’s Choice Awards presentations.
Widowed, he is survived by a son, daughter, four grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, a sister and a brother.
Services were held Monday in Mission Hills, Calif.
Donations may be sent to the Help Youth Foundation, P.O. Box 571763, Tarzana, CA 91357.