A look at the composer's accomplishments
1. Chose “Wind Beneath My Wings” for Bette Midler to sing in “Beaches.” The song, which Midler initially pooh-poohed, went to No. 1 in 1989 and became Midler’s most successful single to date.
2. Went by the stage name Skip St. Thomas, pianist and musical director for the cheesy nightclub act the Sweeney Sisters (Nora Dunn and Jan Hooks) during “Saturday Night Live’s” 1986-87 season.
3. Boasts cameos in at least 10 movies, including the excited news theme composer in “Broadcast News,” the mustachioed conductor in “The Addams Family,” as Lucky Zindberg in “Mr. Saturday Night,” and as “piano player” or “pianist” in various movies including “Scenes From a Mall” and “The Wedding Planner.”
4. In addition to scoring and co-writing several songs (including the Oscar-nominated “Blame Canada”) for “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut,” also appeared in animated form on a 2001 episode of the “South Park” TV series.
5. Has Broadway credits dating back to 1979, before he turned 20, and include arranging and/or conducting for Peter Allen, Bette Midler, Harry Connick Jr., Patti LuPone and Martin Short.
6. Came up with “One for My Baby” for Midler to sing to Johnny Carson on his next-to-last “The Tonight Show” on May 21, 1992, modifying the lyrics slightly for the occasion.
7. Met Robin Williams and Whoopi Goldberg, two later collaborators on such films as “Patch Adams” and “Sister Act,” while working for Billy Crystal on the first “Comic Relief” special in 1986.
8. Composed the logo music that opens every Castle Rock film, and co-wrote (with Midler) the upbeat “Nobody Else but You,” the theme for Midler’s short-lived 2000-01 CBS sitcom “Bette.”
9. His song “The Stink Beneath the Ink,” which Williams was to perform at the 2005 Oscars, was dropped by the producers as too controversial (Williams came out with tape over his mouth to protest). “A mock expose of the dark underbelly of cartoonland,” as the New York Times put it, the song featured such lines as “Pinocchio’s had his nose done! Sleeping Beauty is popping pills! The Three Little Pigs ain’t kosher! Betty Boop works Beverly Hills!”
10. He and longtime partner Scott Wittman caused a stir with their live-TV kiss moments after they won the 2002-03 Tony for writing the music and lyrics for “Hairspray.” Variety called it “the smooch seen ’round the world.”