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William Olvis, Film and Television Composer, Dies at 56

William Patrick Olvis, whose musical compositions underscored over 19 movies and numerous television shows, died of throat cancer May 6 at his home in Malibu. He was 56.

Olvis, whose father William Edward Olvis was a renowned opera singer, won several awards in his own field, including four from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Olvis began his professional career in 1988 composing the score for telepic “Evil in Clear River.”

Among Olvis’ credits was the 1993 film “Red Rock West.” Olvis tailored a rich, textured score that enhanced the tone of the genre-bending film that had elements of a Western, a film noir and a black comedy.

For television, Olvis composed the music for 31 episodes of the television show “Life Goes On” from 1989-93, and he composed the theme and 116 episodes of “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.” In a one-minute theme, Olvis conveyed the tone that would come to define the entire series.

Olvis also composed for the movies “Steal Big Steal Little,” “Separate Lives,” “A Part of the Family,” “The Woman Who Loved Elvis,” “The Comrades of Summer,” “In Sickness and in Health,” “Empire City,” “29th Street,” “To Save a Child,” “Fourth Story,” “Teach 109,” “The Secret Life of Archie’s Wife,” “El Diablo,” “Framed,” “Kill Me Again,” “Babycakes,” “Finish Line,” and “Evil in Clear River,” as well as for the television show “Gabriel’s Fire.”

Olvis is survived by a brother and two sisters as well as former wife Cathleen Young, now head of the Humanitas org, who was his music agent and partner.



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