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Oscar-Nominated Songwriter Rod McKuen Dies at 81

Poet, songwriter, composer and singer Rod McKuen died Thursday in Beverly Hills after suffering from pneumonia, friend and producer Jim Pierson told the L.A. Times. McKuen was 81.

McKuen was twice-nominated for Oscars, first for the song “Jean” from the film “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” in 1970, which won him a Golden Globe, and then again in 1971 for his work on the animated film “A Boy Named Charlie Brown”; he also received a Grammy nomination for his work with the team that included Vince Guaraldi.

Born in Oakland, McKuen moved to Paris in the 1960s, where he wrote poetry before returning to the U.S. where he worked as a poet, singer and film composer in the late ’60s and throughout the 1970s. His hit songs “If You Go Away” and “Seasons in the Sun” (performed by Terry Jacks) were based on Jacques Brel works and he also translated other French songwriters into English.

His film composing work also included “Joanna,” “Scandalous John,” “Emily” and the TV movies “Lisa, Bright and Dark” and “The Borrowers.” His work continued to be used through the years in major productions, appearing in film and television series including “Cheers,” “Better Off Dead…” and “Zodiac.”

McKuen was also a prolific songwriter, working with artists including Johnny Cash, Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra; Sinatra recorded an album of McKuen’s songs and poems in 1969, “A Man Alone: The Words and Music of Rod McKuen,” which included one McKuen’s most popular hits, “Love’s Been Good to Me.”

He published 30 books of poetry including “Listen to the Warm,” which sold millions of copies and won a spoken word Grammy for “Lonesome Cities.”

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