'Star Trek' Theme Composer Alexander Courage Dies

LOS ANGELES — Alexander "Sandy'' Courage, anEmmy-winning and Academy Award-nominated arranger, orchestrator and composerwho created the otherworldly theme for the classic "Star Trek'' TV show,has died. He was 88.

Courage died May 15 at the Sunrise assisted-living facilityin Pacific Palisades, his stepdaughter Renata Pompelli of Los Angeles, saidThursday. He had been in poor health for three years.

Over a decades-long career, Courage collaborated on dozensof movies and orchestrated some of the greatest musicals of the 1950s and1960s, including "My Fair Lady,'' "Hello, Dolly!'' "Seven Bridesfor Seven Brothers,'' "Gigi,'' "Porgy and Bess'' and "Fiddler onthe Roof.''

But his most famous work is undoubtedly the "Star Trek''theme, which he composed, arranged and conducted in a week in 1965.

"I have to confess to the world that I am not a sciencefiction fan,'' Courage said in an interview for the Academy of Television Arts& Sciences Foundation's Archive of American Television in 2000. "Neverhave been. I think it's just marvelous malarkey. ... So you write some, youhope, marvelous malarkey music that goes with it.''

Courage said the tune, with its ringing fanfare, eeriesoprano part and swooping orchestration, was inspired by an arrangement of thesong "Beyond the Blue Horizon'' he heard as a youngster.

"Little did I know when I wrote that first A-flat forthe flute that it was going to go down in history, somehow,'' Courage said. "It'sa very strange feeling.''

Courage said he also mouthed the "whooshing'' soundheard as the starship Enterprise zooms through the opening credits of the TVshow.

"Star Trek'' creator Gene Roddenberry later wrotelyrics to the tune, which were never sung on the show but entitled him to halfthe royalties, Courage said.

Among the many other projects Courage worked on was the 1987TV special "Julie Andrews: The Sound of Christmas,'' for which he won anEmmy for musical direction.

He and Lionel Newman shared Academy Award nominations fortheir adapted scores for 1964's "The Pleasure Seekers'' and 1967's "DoctorDolittle.''

A friend and colleague of movie composers John Williams andJerry Goldsmith, he also provided the orchestration for such movies as "ThePoseidon Adventure,'' "Jurassic Park,'' "Basic Instinct'' and "TheMummy'' and supplied arrangements for the Boston Pops while Williams wasconductor in the 1980s and early 1990s.

For "Star Trek'' he composed music for only a few episodes,in addition to the theme and the music for the pilot. But that theme wasreprised in the TV sequel "Star Trek: The Next Generation'' and in the "StarTrek'' movies.

Courage was born Dec. 10, 1919, in Philadelphia and raisedin New Jersey. After graduation from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., in 1941, Courage enlisted in the Army Air Corps.

After the war, he became a composer for CBS radio shows andthen became an orchestrator and arranger at MGM.

Beginning in the 1960s he composed musicfor TV shows, including "The Waltons,'' "Lost in Space'' and "Voyageto the Bottom of the Sea,'' although the only themes he created were for "StarTrek'' and "Judd For the Defense.''

 

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