Pianist and arranger wrote 'Martian' theme

Pianist and arranger George Greeley, who composed the theme for “My Favorite Martian,” died of emphysema May 26 in Sherman Oaks, Calif. He was 89.

A memorial service will be held Friday, June 1 at 3 p.m. in the Faith Chapel at Forest Lawn Cemetery, 6300 Forest Lawn Dr., Los Angeles.

Born in Westerly, R.I., Greeley served during WWII conducting the Air Force band and entertaining the troops. He attended Juilliard School of Music, and entered the music biz after meeting Sy Oliver, Duke Ellington’s arranger. Oliver taught him the art of arranging for big bands and he joined the Tommy Dorsey band in Indianapolis, the same day Frank Sinatra became the band’s new vocalist. 

His career as a performing artist, arranger and conductor was launched when he was signed by Warner Brothers Records for a series of 15 albums based on the popular piano concertos.

Greeley played piano on the musical scores of hundreds of movies at Columbia Pictures, including “Picnic” and “The Eddy Duchin Story” (his hands were used when Tyrone Power sat at the piano in the movie).

As a musician on staff at Columbia, he wrote original music that appeared in such films as “Hellcats of the Navy,” “Good Day for a Hanging” and “Comanche Station.”

In the 1960s, he segued into television when he created the background music and theme for “My Favorite Martian” starring Ray Walston and Bill Bixby. The Martian theme, punctuated by the sound of the theremin, a high-pitched instrument, established an immediate recognition of the show and created almost a cult following of Martian fans. 

He is survived by two sons; his long time companion, Teri York; a brother and a sister.

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