Two For Tuesday: Earle Hagen

For the next few weeks, we’re going to look at the people who compose TV themes and incidental music. A lot of TV shows have all but done away with music; I guess it’s too expensive.

We’ll start with one of my favorites, Earle Hagen, who wrote “The Fishin’ Hole” that was the theme song for The Andy Griffith Show, “Keep Your Fingers Crossed” for The Dick Van Dyke Show, and theme songs for The Mod Squad, I Spy, and Gomer Pyle, USMC. Earle was born in Chicago in 1919, and when he was a young boy he and his family moved to Los Angeles. He learned to play the trombone, and went on the road at 16 after graduating Hollywood High School, playing with Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman and Ray Noble. While with Noble, he wrote “Harlem Nocturne” in 1939. He has written two textbooks on scoring films and TV shows as well as a memoir, Memoirs of a Famous Composer-Nobody Ever Heard of. He died of natural causes in 2008.

One of his most memorable compositions was the theme for The Andy Griffith Show, “The Fishin’ Hole,” with Herbert Spencer. Lyrics were written by Everett Sloane and sung by Andy Griffith but not used in the show. Earle whistled the theme for the opening and closing credits.

Earle won an Emmy for his work on the music for I Spy in 1968. Show producer Sheldon Leonard bucked the trend of canned music for the show and instead wanted individual scores for each episode. Hagen rose to the task.

Earle Hagen, your Two for Tuesday, September 3, 2019.

12 thoughts on “Two For Tuesday: Earle Hagen

  1. I like your new Tuesday theme – I adored Andy Griffith show – I always wanted to whistle like that, but still, to this day, can’t. Even though I think I am, my Mr. reminds me that I sound like one long note, never changing, never in tune. Sigh. Fun post, thanks for your research and for sharing!


  2. I love the Andy Griffith Show and we still watch it. I often wondered who whistled the theme and now I know. I like this series, already!


  3. I remember the Andy Griffith one very well but I had forgotten the ISpy, even though I watched the show. I had a crush on Robert Culp. 🙂


  4. I took a few days off…very dizzy and tired. Something is not right I have to the dr. And now going for an ultrasound. When I read blogs, the words go murky and I get a slight headache so I will see the eye dr also. Anyhoo, I love the first of this series. He was a great whistler which I never could so well. I Spy is one series, along with that other one with Robert Vaughn( concentration sucks) that was never really replayed in my area when I was young. I never could stand Bill Cosby because I found his humbleness so false but I will still like to watch this show. Is that the reason for no more opening songs? I miss that.


    1. You’re thinking of “The Man From UNCLE,” which starred Robert Vaughan, David McCallum, and the fine old actor Leo G. Carroll. MeTV had it for a while, and if you get Decades (which is also owned by Weigel out of Chicago) it’ll show up on occasion on “The Decades Binge,” where they show as many episodes of a series as they can from late Friday until 7 AM on Monday.

      “I Spy” is one of those series that I think a lot of people would like to see again. Knowing that Earle Hagen wrote a separate score for each show has piqued my curiosity.

      Take care of yourself, and I pray they find whatever it is and are able to solve it with a minimum of hassle.


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