Oscar- and Emmy-winning composer
Fred Karlin, the Oscar- and Emmy-winning composer who in recent years became an author, educator and filmmaker, died of cancer March 26 in Culver City. He was 67.
Karlin won a 1970 Oscar for the song “For All We Know” from “Lovers and Other Strangers.” It became a top-10 hit for the Carpenters. He won a 1974 Emmy for scoring the landmark TV movie “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” and was nominated for its theme song.
Karlin received Oscar and Grammy noms for his song “Come Saturday Morning” from “The Sterile Cuckoo” (1969), a top-20 hit for the Sandpipers. His other Oscar noms were for original song score, for “The Baby Maker,” and song, for “The Little Ark.”
He scored numerous films, including “Up the Down Staircase,” “Yours, Mine and Ours,” “The Stalking Moon,” “Westworld,” “Leadbelly,” “Futureworld” and “Loving Couples.”
He worked extensively in television, earning a total of 12 Emmy nominations. Among his credits were miniseries “The Awakening Land,” “Inside the Third Reich,” “Dream West” and “Dadah Is Death”; the telepics “Minstrel Man” (which won him an NAACP Image Award), “Vampire,” “Bridge to Silence” and “Survive the Savage Sea”; and approximately 100 other credits.
Karlin scored the Patrick Duffy sci-fi series “The Man From Atlantis” (1977), Ron Leibman’s “Kaz” (1978) and the James Earl Jones drama “Paris” (1979).
Born in Chicago in 1936, Karlin began playing trumpet in 1950. He studied jazz composition with arranger Bill Russo and graduated cum laude from Amherst College in 1956.
From 1958 through 1966 he worked in New York City, composing and arranging for the bands of Benny Goodman, Harry James and others. He also began scoring documentaries and TV commercials.
After he became music director for Meg Welles’ chamber jazz quintet, the two were married in 1963. They moved to Los Angeles in 1969 to pursue film work.
In 1988, Karlin designed and began teaching the ASCAP/Fred Karlin Film Scoring Workshop, which he continued for the next decade. He also taught periodically at the University of California at Santa Barbara, at USC and in other seminars and workshops around the world.
In 1990, Karlin — with his orchestration teacher, Rayburn Wright of the Eastman School of Music — wrote “On the Track: A Guide to Contemporary Film Scoring,” now considered the definitive textbook for aspiring film and TV composers. A second, revised edition has just been published by Routledge.
In 1994, he followed that with a film music book for laymen, “Listening to Movies: The Film Lover’s Guide to Film Music.” His third book, “Great Film Scores,” is slated for publication next year.
Karlin produced, directed and co-edited “Film Music Masters: Jerry Goldsmith,” a 70-minute documentary about the composer; it was released on video in 1995.
He continued to compose and perform. His large-scale concert works, which combined jazz and classical influences, included the 20-minute “Reflections” (1993) and the 40-minute “The Peace Seeker” (1998). He released two collections of jazz-oriented film themes, including his own, on CD in 1995 and ’97.
Survivors include his wife, a son, two daughters, a brother and four grandchilden. A memorial service will be announced.
Memorial donations may be made to the American Heritage Center, U. of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071.