Will H. Schaefer, a composer whose music accompanied hit television shows such as “I Dream of Jeannie” and “The Flintstones,” has died in California, a family friend said Wednesday. He was 78.
Schaefer died of cancer Saturday in a nursing home in Cathedral City near Palm Springs, Calif., said Danny Flahive.
The Wisconsin-native wrote background music, which is different from theme songs, for such TV shows as “The Flying Nun,” “Hogan’s Heroes,” “The AristoCats,” “The Jetsons,” “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie” and “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson.
He also composed and recorded music for more than 700 commercials, including ads for companies such as Ford, Chevrolet and Pillsbury. He also reworked the song “It’s a Small World” for Disney to give it an international flavor corresponding to different rooms in the theme park ride.
His professional accolades included three Clio Awards for his work on commercials. He also was nominated for an Emmy Award for his score to the Walt Disney TV movie “The Skytrap,” and for a Pulitzer Prize for his concert piece “The Sound of America,” commissioned for the 1976 bicentennial celebration.
“He was brilliant. Even toward the end of his life, he was writing for a 100-piece orchestra of the Budapest symphony,” Flahive said.
During the Korean War, Schaefer was the arranger and assistant conductor with The U.S. Fifth Army Band stationed at Fort Sheri-dan, Ill., where he wrote music for “Radio Free Europe” and “The Voice of America.”
Schaefer was born in Kenosha, Wis., and had lived in Rancho Mirage, Calif. He divorced in 1984 after a 20-year marriage and did not have children.