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‘Electric Company’ Songwriter Elaine Laron Dies at 83

Scribe got her start on 'Captain Kangaroo

Elaine Laron, a TV writer and lyricist who worked on “Captain Kangaroo,” “The Electric Company” and “Free To Be You And Me,” died June 6 in Los Angeles of pneumonia. She was 83.

Born in the Bronx in 1930, Laron began her career as a greeting card writer and soon moved into writing lyrics. Her first recorded release was “Those Are The Breaks” by cabaret performer Arthur Siegal in 1954 followed by “Look But Do Not Touch-Cha-Cha” by Isobel Robins featured on the comedy album “The Saint And The Sinner,” also featuring comedian Henry Morgan. Her other recorded works include “The Loving Song” by Nana Mouskouri and the anti-war song “Hell No I Ain’t Gonna Go” by Matt Jones for the song magazine Broadside.

Laron collaborated with composers including Stephen Schwartz (“Godspell”), Charles Strouse (“All In The Family”), Joe Raposo (“Sesame Street”), Ron Dante (“Sugar Sugar”) and Vic Mizzy (“Green Acres,” “The Addams Family”). Her work with Mizzy appears on his album “Songs For The Jogging Crowd.”

Laron’s first TV gig was as a writer for the long-running children’s series “Captain Kangaroo.” Her other TV credits include writing songs and sketches for “The Tony Orlando Show,” Alan King’s “Many Faces Of Comedy” and Don Kirshner’s “Thanksgiving Jamboree.”

Her stint on “Captain Kangaroo” led to her being hired as a writer and as head lyricist for the Emmy Award-winning PBS kids’ series “The Electric Company,” where she wrote more than 30 songs for the program’s first season, performed by cast members including Rita Moreno, Irene Cara, Bill Cosby and Morgan Freeman. Many of the songs were featured on the show’s Grammy-winning soundtrack album. She then contributed to Marlo Thomas’ “Free To Be You and Me,” a record, book and TV special celebrating diversity. Laron wrote several poems for the book and one was set to music for the TV special and recorded by Dionne Warwick. The special won both an Emmy and a Peabody Award.

Laron’s last work, a jingle for Kool Aid recorded by The Monkees in 1969 is due to be released this summer on Rhino’s expanded reissue of the album “The Monkees Present.”

Laron is survived by a sister, Marilyn Funt of New York, a niece Juliet Funt Resnick of Los Angeles and a nephew William Funt of Los Angeles. A memorial concert of her songs is being planned.

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