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.