Gained fame at Universal for sci-fi, horror classics

Herman Stein, who composed music for many of Universal’s 1950s science-fiction and horror films, died of congestive heart failure March 15 in Los Angeles. He was 91.

As a staff composer at Universal, Stein contributed music to nearly 200 films, but was most famous for his contributions to such genre classics as “It Came From Outer Space,” “This Island Earth,” “Creature From the Black Lagoon,” “The Mole People,” “The Incredible Shrinking Man” and “Tarantula.”

He was born in Philadelphia, began playing piano at the age of 3 and gave his first public recital at 6. He taught himself orchestration and was arranging professionally by the age of 15.

During the 1930s and ’40s he composed and arranged for radio programs and jazz orchestras, including work for Count Basie, Bob Crosby, Red Norvo, Fred Waring and others. He moved to Los Angeles in 1948, studied composition with Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and joined Universal in 1951.

Stein’s other films included “City Beneath the Sea,” “The Glass Web,” “The Black Shield of Falworth,” “The Great Man,” “Backlash,” “No Name on the Bullet” and Roger Corman’s anti-racism film “The Intruder.”

Stein composed for television from the late 1950s through the mid-1960s, including scores for “M Squad,” “Wagon Train,” “Daniel Boone,” “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” and “Lost in Space.”

He also composed for cartoons and commercials. His concert work included the “Mock March” for brass quintet and “Sour Suite” for woodwind quintet.

His wife Anita, a violist for many years with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, died in 2001. There are no survivors.

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