You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Lyle ‘Spud’ Murphy


Lyle “Spud” Murphy, prolific Hollywood composer-arranger best known for developing a composing system widely used by professional musicians, died Aug. 5 at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital of complications from recent surgery. He was 96.

Murphy, who contributed music to more than 50 films, arranged two of bandleader Benny Goodman’s biggest hits, “Get Happy” and “Jingle Bells,” and transformed the children’s song “Three Blind Mice” into the theme for the Three Stooges shorts.

In his later years, Murphy kept active by spreading his method of composing, arranging and orchestration, which he began teaching decades ago.

Berlin native moved to the U.S. at age 4 with his mother and grew up in Utah. He showed early talent for music, eventually mastering the trumpet, all the saxophones and other woodwinds. He got his first music job at 16 and landed in New York City in 1933. There he became well known for his arrangements for bandleaders, including Goodman.

He moved to California in the late 1930s, where he worked at Columbia Pictures, but left to serve in the merchant marine during WWII, resuming film work after the war.

By the late 1940s, arrangers had become fascinated with his writing techniques. One student persuaded Murphy to teach him his method, and Murphy went on to train hundreds of students in his composing and arranging process called the Equal Interval System.

He was a renaissance man who spoke several languages, was a student of boxing and an expert in astronomy, geography and the Titanic.

He is survived by two daughters and two grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. Monday at Forest Lawn in Glendale.

More Scene

  • Nicole KidmanWarner Bros. Pictures World Premiere

    How James Wan Convinced Nicole Kidman to Star in 'Aquaman'

    While some actors dream of playing a superhero, that wasn’t the case for the cast of “Aquaman.” “I knew nothing about this,” Amber Heard, who plays Mera in the James Wan-directed action film, told Variety at the movie’s Los Angeles premiere. “I knew nothing about comic books in general. I didn’t know anything about this [...]

  • Hugh Jackman'To Kill a Mockingbird' Broadway

    'To Kill a Mockingbird's' Starry Opening: Oprah, Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway and More

    The Shubert Theatre in New York City last was filled on Thursday night with Oscar winners, media titans, and, of course, Broadway legends who came out for the opening of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The starry guest list included Oprah Winfrey, Barry Diller, “Les Misérables” co-stars Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Gayle King, [...]

  • Clint Eastwood and Alison Eastwood'The Mule'

    Clint Eastwood: Why Alison Eastwood Came Out of Acting Retirement for Her Dad

    Clint Eastwood’s daughter Alison Eastwood was done with acting after appearing in 2014’s “Finding Harmony.” Or so she thought. It was a Friday night and she and her husband were heading to dinner when her father’s producer Sam Moore called. “He [says], ‘You know, your dad wants you to do this film,” Alison recalls. “I [...]

  • John CenaSports Illustrated Sportsperson of the

    John Cena on WWE's Acceptance by Hollywood and the Professional Sports World

    John Cena says the WWE is finally getting the attention it deserves by Hollywood and the professional sports world. “I’m just glad that no longer are we looked down upon, not only by the sport industry, but by the performing arts industry,” Cena told Variety on Tuesday night in Beverly Hills at Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of [...]

  • Steve Carell Welcome to Marwen

    Steve Carell on New Film 'Welcome to Marwen' and Reprising His 'Anchorman' Character

    In 2000, Mark Hogancamp was nearly beaten to death by five men outside of a bar. Left with brain damage and little money to afford therapy, Hogancamp began creating miniature doll versions of himself, his friends, and his attackers as a way to cope. This true story inspired the 2010 documentary “Marwencol” and the upcoming [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content