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Biography

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Overview (3)

Born in New York City, New York, USA
Died in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico
Birth NameFrederick Steiner

Mini Bio (1)

Of Hungarian ancestry, the son of film composer George Steiner followed in his father's footsteps. A child prodigy, he played the piano by the age of six and cello at thirteen. Growing up in Manhattan, Fred immersed himself in his father's vast collection of records, which included a great deal of orchestral and chamber music. Highly motivated to study composition and playing two instruments, he soon earned himself a scholarship. By the age of twenty, he graduated with a degree from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio, and, in later years, added a PhD from USC to his resume for writing a dissertation on the legendary film composer Alfred Newman. Straight out of college, Fred began writing and arranging scores for several New York-based radio broadcasts, including "Suspense" and "CBS Radio Workshop". He also scored wartime propaganda shorts, selling war bonds. Another popular show, for which he composed and conducted, was "This Is Your FBI", a semi-documentary production based on actual case files and often narrated by movie personalities, like Richard Widmark, Jack Lemmon and Jeff Chandler.

From 1947, Steiner (who was not related to the legendary Max) spent time in Hollywood, working as arranger, conductor and (often uncredited) composer. His first solo motion picture effort and personal favourite among his scores, Run for the Sun (1956), came about via a recommendation from his good friend Bernard Herrmann. Though he later shared an Academy Award nomination for adaptation/orchestration of The Color Purple (1985), Fred reserved his best work for the small screen. One of the most prolific of television composers, he contributed to numerous episodes of popular series, ranging across diverse genres, from Gunsmoke (1955) to Hogan's Heroes (1965); from The Twilight Zone (1959) to Hawaii Five-O (1968). He was singularly adept at suiting his music to a particular dramatic situation or conveying specific emotions to a certain scene, as, for example, in his use of violins and harp in the Rachmaninoff-inspired score for the "Twilight Zone" episode "The Passersby".

One of Steiner's most fondly remembered compositions is the jazzy "Park Avenue Beat", which served as the theme for the long-running courtroom drama series Perry Mason (1957), conceived to represent a combination of 'sophistication and toughness'. In stark contrast, he provided a more light-hearted musical approach to his score of the animated cult favorite Rocky and His Friends (1959). His affinity for animation can be traced back to his father, who wrote music for many of the early classic cartoons, such as the "Betty Boop" series and Terrytoons productions, almost always working from home.

Fred Steiner also made a lasting impact on fans of Star Trek (1966), composing music for several episodes, of which "The Corbomite Maneuver" and "Balance of Terror" are often considered among the best of the original series. In an interview (recorded in Santa Fe on June 25, 2003), he recalled that Gene Roddenberry had made it clear to him from the beginning, that he didn't want "poops and peeps music", but "Captain Blood in space"!

Between 1958 and 1960, Steiner worked in Mexico, compiling and archiving Latin American music for government-sponsored television documentaries. He grew to admire the local traditional culture and was in later years drawn back to spend his twilight years there. He also continued his life-long interest in musicology, co-founding the Film Music Society, lecturing in composition at USC and regularly contributing to a number of musical publications (authoring analyses of classic film scores, such as King Kong (1933) and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: I.S.Mowis

Spouse (1)

Shirley Lipkin (1946 - 23 June 2011) ( his death) ( 2 children)

Trivia (4)

Steiner was in charge of music on ABC Radio's "This is Your FBI" (1945-1953).
Graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.
Father of Wendy Waldman.

See also

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