Composer Walker dies

Emmy winner scored more feature films than any other American woman

Shirley Walker, an Emmy-winning composer who also scored more major-studio feature films than any other American woman, died of complications from a stroke early Thursday at Washoe Medical Center in Reno, Nev. She was 61.

Walker won a 2001 music-composition Emmy for “Batman Beyond,” one of several animated series she scored including “Batman,” “Superman,” “The Zeta Project” and “Spawn.” She won another Emmy in 1996 as music director on “The Adventures of Batman & Robin.”

Her feature-film credits include all three “Final Destination” films, “Escape From L.A.” (with director John Carpenter), “Turbulence,” “Willard,” “Memoirs of an Invisible Man,” “Born to Ride” and “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.” Her final feature film, “Black Christmas,” will be released by Dimension on Dec. 25.

Walker was well known in the industry as a mentor to young composers. As supervising composer on the Warner Bros. animated series, she launched the careers of several musicians who went on to their own successes in the field.

She worked extensively in television, scoring episodes of “Lou Grant,” “Falcon Crest,” “Knots Landing,” “China Beach” and “The Others.” She scored all 22 episodes of “Space: Above and Beyond,” which earned her a 1995 Emmy nomination for original series score, and all 22 episodes of “The Flash” in 1990-91. Her TV-movie scores included those for “Asteroid,” “Majority Rule” and “Disappearance.”

Walker orchestrated and conducted several of Danny Elfman’s early scores, including “Batman,” “Dick Tracy,” “Nightbreed” and “Darkman,” and did the same for several of Hans Zimmer’s early scores, including “Days of Thunder,” “Backdraft,” “A League of Their Own” and “Toys.”

She was born in Napa, Calif., in 1945, attended San Francisco State College and performed as a pianist with the San Francisco Symphony and Oakland Symphony Orchestra.

Her film career began on Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now,” on which she played synthesizers; she later collaborated on the score of Coppola’s “The Black Stallion.”

Walker’s husband Don died in March. She is survived by two sons; her mother; two brothers; and a sister.

Plans for a memorial service are under way, with a date to be announced.

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