JAMES HORNER, FILM COMPOSER; HIT SCORE FOR ‘TITANIC’ WAS A HIT, TOO
Late Tuesday, Mr. Horner’s spokesman, the Gorfaine/Schwartz Agency, confirmed that he was the pilot of the EMB 312 Tucano that crashed in northern Ventura County. He lived in Calabasas, near the Santa Monica Mountains.
Mr. Horner, a music scholar who taught at the University of California, Los Angeles, may be best remembered for his “Titanic” score and the megahit song from the soundtrack, “My Heart Will Go On.” But “Titanic” was just one of more than 100 films that featured his music, including some of the biggest box-office hits of recent decades: “Cocoon,” “Field of Dreams,” “Glory,” “Legends of the Fall,” “Braveheart,” “Apollo 13,” “A Beautiful Mind,” two installments of the “Star Trek” franchise and, besides “Titanic,” two other blockbusters by the director James Cameron, “Aliens” and “Avatar.”
He also scored a dozen television shows and the theme music for an eclectic series of projects, including Michael Jackson’s “Captain EO” attraction at Disneyland and Katie Couric’s debut on the CBS “Evening News.” He won six Grammy Awards (including one for his work as a producer).
He had just completed scores for two unreleased movies, “33” and “Southpaw,” and for a documentary film, “Living in the Age of Airplanes.”
“The music’s job is to get the audience so involved that they forget how the movie turns out,” Mr. Horner said in an interview on the James Horner Film Music website last November.
Mr. Horner’s refrains were soaring, though some called them soupy; he was credited with elevating movie orchestration to new heights, though a few critics complained that he would sometimes recycle his own works (or other composers’). His productivity, without dispute, was staggering.
A serious student of classical music, he also learned to accommodate Hollywood’s demands.
“I tend to write it and then let go emotionally,” he said in the Horner website interview. “I’ve learned that over the years I used to hang on to things, and it’s so dangerous because you’re in love with your bride, and then once it leaves your hands it goes through sound effects and mixing, and all the stuff you worked so hard on now is pushed down.
“Sometimes it ends up sounding great, and that’s what movies are about, but sometimes you work so hard on something, it gets so beat up by a film director about making every atom perfect and you hear it in the final mix, and you can’t hear any of that stuff,” he continued. “What was the point of getting beat up for a week to get that sequence perfect? It’s covered up by car crashes. It’s insane!”
James Roy Horner was born in Los Angeles on Aug. 14, 1953, the son of Harry Horner and the former Joan Frankel. His father was a set designer and art director who won Academy Awards for “The Heiress” in 1949 and “The Hustler” in 1961.
Raised in London, James started piano lessons when he was 5 and trained at the Royal College of Music. After moving back to California in the 1970s, he received a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Southern California and a master’s and a doctorate, in music composition and theory, from U.C.L.A.
“My tastes went all over the place, from Strauss to Mahler,” he recalled in the website interview. “I was never a big Wagner or Tchaikovsky fan. Benjamin Britten, Tallis, all the early English Medieval music, Prokofiev, some Russian composers, mostly the people that were the colorists, the French.”
He is survived by his wife, Sara, and their daughters, Emily and Becky.
Mr. Horner began scoring student projects for the American Film Institute in the late 1970s. That led to work on low-budget movies for the producer and director Roger Corman and on “The Lady in Red,” a 1979 gangster film set in the 1930s. His breakthrough was “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” (1982), after its director, Nicholas Meyer, said the studio could no longer afford Jerry Goldsmith, who had scored the first “Star Trek” film. Mr. Horner went on to score “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” as well.
He received his first Academy Award nominations in 1986 — for best original score, for “Aliens,” and, with two co-writers, for best original song, “Somewhere Out There,” from the animated feature “An American Tail.”
Nominated 10 times, he won two Oscars, both in 1997, for his work on “Titanic” — for best original dramatic score and, with Will Jennings, who wrote the lyrics, for best original song, “My Heart Will Go On.”
Mr. Horner and Mr. Jennings also won three Grammy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards for the soundtrack and the song, sung by Celine Dion, whose recording of it became a huge hit and earned her a Grammy as well.
“Steep yourself in the footage,” Mr. Cameron suggested to Mr. Horner during the making of “Titanic.” “Crack the melody, and it doesn’t matter whether you play it on solo piano, it’ll work.”
In the book “Titanic and the Making of James Cameron,” Paula Parisi wrote that three weeks later, having decided on Celtic instrumentation to reflect the ship’s origin and manifest — it was built in Belfast and carried hundreds of Irish people, mostly in steerage — Mr. Horner “invited Cameron out to his studio and with no preamble launched into the ‘Titanic’ theme on his piano.”
“Cameron’s eyes were tearing up by the time Horner finished,” Ms. Parisi wrote. “The music was everything he had hoped and prayed it would be, gliding from intimacy to grandeur to heart-wringing sadness. Effortless, the music seemed to bridge the 85 years between then and now.”
In the 2000 interview with The Times, Mr. Horner singled out his score for the animated film “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” in discussing some of his compositional methods.
“If the music is too emphatic and emotional, it might drown the comedy,” he said. “But if the music is toned down too much, the scene might not give the audience the emotional catharsis it wants from the climax.
“It’s like being a tightrope walker with one foot in the air at all times,” he added.
“When it makes me cry, then I know I’ve nailed it,” he said. “I can’t do any better.”
An obituary in some editions on Wednesday about the composer James Horner misstated the number of Grammy Awards he won. It was six, not five.SOURCE
PATRICK MACNEE, DAPPER AND UNFLAPPABLE IN ‘THE AVENGERS’
His son, Rupert, confirmed his death.
Mr. Macnee faced off against an assortment of evildoers, armed with understated wit and a traditionalist British fashion sense that made him look less like a spy in the Bond mold than “a junior cabinet minister,” as he once put it, although his tightly rolled umbrella concealed a sword and other crime-fighting gadgets, and his bowler hat, lined with a steel plate, could stop bullets and, when thrown, fell an opponent.
He was paired with a comely female sidekick, initially Honor Blackman (who left the series to play Pussy Galore in the James Bond film “Goldfinger”) but most famously Diana Rigg, stylish in a leather cat suit and every bit his equal in the wit and hand-to-hand-combat departments.
In many scenes he was content to observe, an eyebrow cocked, as Emma — whom he always referred to as Mrs. Peel — unleashed her martial arts expertise on a hapless foe. He would often summon her to action with the words “Mrs. Peel, we’re needed.” Steed carried no gun. Aplomb and sang-froid were his weapons. In one episode, his back to the wall and facing a firing squad, he was asked if he had a last request. “Would you cancel my milk?” he said.
Daniel Patrick Macnee was born on Feb. 6, 1922, in London and grew up in Lambourn. At Summer Fields preparatory school, he acted in a production of “Henry V,” with his classmate Christopher Lee, who died this month, playing the Dauphin.
Mr. Macnee’s father, Daniel, known as Shrimp, was a horse trainer, and he claimed that his mother, the former Dorothea Hastings, was a direct descendant of Robin Hood. After Dorothea divorced Mr. Macnee’s father for another woman, Patrick moved in with the two women. “Uncle Evelyn,” as Macnee referred to his mother’s lover in his memoir, “Blind in One Ear,” helped pay for his schooling.
After being expelled from Eton College for running a sports book and selling pornography, he attended the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, where he met his first wife, Barbara Douglas. He appeared in a few London stage productions and films before joining the coastal forces of the Royal Navy in 1941. He was commissioned as a lieutenant and would ultimately receive the Atlantic Star.
He then spent the next 15 years bouncing between England and Canada, appearing in various plays and films — he was the young Marley in the Alastair Sim version of “A Christmas Carol” in 1951 — before settling in the United States, where he became an American citizen in 1959.
In the first season of “The Avengers,” broadcast in 1961 in Britain, Steed was a bare-knuckled, trench-coat-wearing subordinate to David Keel, a doctor played by Ian Hendry. In the first two episodes, the men set about avenging the murder of Keel’s fiancée, hence the title of the series. They went on to tackle various criminal cases, with Steed’s character looming larger with each episode. Katherine Woodville, who played the fiancée, later became Mr. Macnee’s second wife.
Mr. Macnee’s first two marriages ended in divorce. His third wife, Baba Majos de Nagyzsenye, died in 2007. In addition to his son, from his first marriage, he is survived by a daughter, Jenny, also from his first marriage, and a grandson.
When Mr. Hendry left after the first season to pursue a film career, Steed was elevated to the primary role. The creators then experimented with a flurry of actors before settling on the formula of juxtaposing the newly buttoned-down Steed with a series of assertive and alluring women.
The formula was hugely successful. “The Avengers” ran for 161 episodes before winding up in 1969. It made its debut on American television in 1966, with Ms. Rigg firmly installed as Mr. Macnee’s partner.
In all its time on the air, it was never entirely clear whom Steed worked for.
Mr. Macnee returned to the role of John Steed in 1976 with the British series “The New Avengers,” with Steed occupying a more supervisory role in British intelligence. The show, which made its way to American television in 1978, was not nearly as successful as the original.
Mr. Macnee appeared with the familiar suit and umbrella (but no bowler) in a video for the Oasis song “Don’t Look Back in Anger” in 1996 and contributed an off-screen voice in the poorly received 1998 film of “The Avengers,” in which Ralph Fiennes played Steed and Uma Thurman played Mrs. Peel.
Mr. Macnee ultimately joined forces with his peer in dapper British espionage: He played a fellow Secret Service agent in “A View to a Kill,” starring Roger Moore as James Bond, and narrated more than a dozen making-of documentaries about the Bond films.
He and Mr. Moore also appeared together as British crime-fighters of an earlier vintage: Mr. Macnee played Dr. Watson to Mr. Moore’s Sherlock Holmes in a TV movie before eventually moving up to the main role himself in the 1993 TV movie “The Hound of London.”
His stage credits include several West End productions and a long-running stint in “Sleuth” on Broadway, a role he would revisit on several American tours. He appeared in such cult films as “This Is Spinal Tap” (as the British entrepreneur Sir Denis Eton-Hogg) and “The Howling,” and narrated a number of audiobooks by the likes of Peter Mayle and Jack Higgins.
In addition to his memoir, he wrote an insider’s account, “The Avengers and Me.”
“I’m not surprised ‘The Avengers’ has such enduring popularity, because it was a groundbreaking series that changed television,” he told The Daily Express in 2010. “It was the first show that put its leading man and leading lady on an equal footing, and showed a woman fighting and kicking and throwing men around. That was a radical departure in its time.”
An earlier version of this obituary misstated the timing of Mr. Macnee’s appearance in the film “A Christmas Carol,” starring Alastair Sim. It was in 1951, after he left the Royal Navy — not before he joined, in 1941.SOURCE
DICK VAN PATTEN, HARRIED FATHER ON ‘EIGHT IS ENOUGH’
The cause was complications of diabetes, said a spokesman, Jeffrey Ballard.
“Eight Is Enough,” based on a memoir by Tom Braden, starred Mr. Van Patten as Tom Bradford, the patriarch of a family of eight children. It was among the top-rated shows on television during its four-year run on ABC, from 1977 to 1981.
Some of the show’s young actors, including Willie Aames and Grant Goodeve, became stars, but its serene center was Mr. Van Patten, whose Tom Bradford dealt genially with the various small family dramas that arose week after week, only to be neatly solved by the closing credits.
While it was reminiscent of another California-based family comedy with lots of kids, “The Brady Bunch,” the hourlong “Eight Is Enough” was more serious; it sought to deal with some of life’s larger issues, at least in passing. That goal was brought to the fore when Diana Hyland, who played Mr. Van Patten’s wife, died of cancer after four episodes. Her death was written into the show, something that would have been hard to imagine in the candy-coated world of the Bradys, and Mr. Van Patten’s character later married a schoolteacher, played by Betty Buckley.
Mr. Van Patten, who had three children of his own — Nels, Jimmy and Vincent, who all followed him into acting — was a father figure on the set, helping to calm some of the more outrageous instincts of young actors and actresses suddenly thrust into the spotlight. A profile in People magazine said that Mr. Van Patten’s only vices were twice-weekly poker games and regular visits to the racetrack.
“I’m not certain myself who is really mine and who I borrowed from the show,” he said of his brood of real and fictional children. The well-publicized misbehavior of some of his young co-stars, as well as declining ratings, led ABC to cancel “Eight Is Enough” in 1981. Mr. Van Patten said he learned of the cancellation by reading about it in the newspaper.
Mr. Van Patten’s other main claim to fame was his presence in comedies by Mel Brooks. He first worked with Mr. Brooks on television, playing Friar Tuck in “When Things Were Rotten,” an ill-fated (and perhaps ill-conceived) 1975 sitcom based on the legend of Robin Hood. He went on to play small but memorable roles in Mr. Brooks’s “High Anxiety” (1977), “Spaceballs” (1987) and, completing the circle, “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” (1993) — although as an abbot this time, and not as Friar Tuck; Mr. Brooks renamed that character Rabbi Tuckman and played it himself.
While the Bradford and Brooks roles may have thrust him into the public eye, Mr. Van Patten had been a working actor for decades before they came along. Indeed, like his young co-stars in “Eight Is Enough,” he had started acting as a child.
Richard Vincent Van Patten was born on Dec. 9, 1928, in Kew Gardens, Queens, to Richard Van Patten and the former Josephine Acerno. He grew up in Brooklyn. His father was an interior decorator, and his mother worked in advertising. Every Friday night, his parents would take him to see a Broadway show, which he later said inspired his lifelong love of acting.
His mother encouraged him and his younger sister, Joyce, to go into acting, setting up meetings with agents and producers and sending them to the Professional Children’s School in Manhattan. (Joyce Van Patten, who survives him, is still acting professionally.)
His career began at the age of 7, when he landed a role as the son of Melvyn Douglas in “Tapestry in Gray” on Broadway. Billed as Dickie Van Patten well into his teens, he went on to appear in more than a dozen Broadway productions between 1937 and 1951, among them “The Skin of Our Teeth,” with Fredric March and Tallulah Bankhead, and “Mister Roberts,” with Henry Fonda, in which he replaced David Wayne as Ensign Pulver.
Mr. Van Patten continued to appear occasionally on Broadway until 1975 (his last role was in the comedy “Thieves”), but television became his focus once he landed a role on one of the first family drama series,“Mama” (1949-56). He was rarely absent from the small screen after that.
Among the many other shows on which he appeared were “Happy Days,” “Love, American Style,” “The Streets of San Francisco” and, most recently, “Hot in Cleveland.” Before landing “Eight Is Enough,” he played Captain Stubing in the pilot for “The Love Boat,” a role that eventually went to Gavin MacLeod. (Perhaps as a consolation prize, Mr. Van Patten was cast in various roles in later episodes.)
His movies also included “Charly” (1968), “Joe Kidd” (1972), “Westworld” (1973), “Soylent Green” (1973) and “Freaky Friday” (1976).
An animal enthusiast, Mr. Van Patten founded a pet food company, Natural Balance, in 1989 and helped establish National Guide Dog Month in 2008.
In addition to his sons and his sister, Mr. Van Patten’s survivors include his wife, the former Patricia Poole, and a half brother, Timothy Van Patten, a television director.