Nathan Scott, a film and television composer whose credits included “Wake of the Red Witch” and TV’s “Dragnet” and “Lassie,” died of age-related causes Feb. 27 at his home in Sherman Oaks, Calif. He was 94.
The father of Grammy-winning saxophonist Tom Scott, Nathan Scott amassed more than 850 credits as a composer, orchestrator and conductor in television and 100 more in films.
He was born in Salinas, Calif., and graduated with a music degree from UC Berkeley in 1939.
He found work in radio, and in 1942, he was named West Coast music director for the NBC-owned Blue Network; shortly thereafter, he was inducted into the Army, where he conducted and arranged on such Armed Forces Radio Service shows as “Command Performance.”
Scott was hired in 1946 as a staff composer by Republic Pictures, where he composed, orchestrated and/or conducted dozens of scores, including “Wake of the Red Witch” and “Heart of the Rockies.” Later credits for other studios included scores for “Montana Belle” and “X-15.”
Scott spent most of his career working in television. Beginning in 1952, he arranged and orchestrated for original “Dragnet” composer Walter Schumann, later taking over as composer on the Jack Webb series. He scored episodes of “Steve Canyon,” “Wagon Train,” “Rawhide,” “The Untouchables,” “My Three Sons” and other series of the 1950s and 1960s.
He scored two “Twilight Zones,” including the classic 1960 episode “A Stop at Willoughby,” and wrote the theme for the 1964 political drama “Slattery’s People.” He began working on “Lassie” in 1963 and scored nearly all of its episodes through 1973.
He penned choral arrangements for several “Voices of Walter Schumann” LPs on the Capitol and RCA labels. He also arranged choral numbers for Tennessee Ernie Ford’s variety show and for albums by gospel singer George Beverly Shea.
In the 1970s, Scott returned to orchestrating for other composers, including son Tom Scott (“Hanky Panky”), Quincy Jones (“The Color Purple”) and Stu Phillips (“Battlestar Galactica,” “The Fall Guy”).
In addition to son Tom, he is survived by his second wife, Frances McCune Scott; a daughter; a brother; and two grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at a later date.