Filed in: Postproduction

Tribute to Jerry Goldsmith

December 1, 2004 12:00 | By

By Eric Green
Jerry Goldsmith’s stellar career spanned over a half century, encompassing a staggering 17 Academy Award nominations—though only one win, for The Omen in 1976. He scored over 300 films, including Alien, Planet of the Apes, Chinatown, Poltergeist, Total Recall, Basic Instinct and L.A. Confidential.
Goldsmith was an innovator and traditionalist, true to his classical roots yet always willing to experiment with new technology. By 15 he had become aware of film music and a year later, in 1945, he became enthralled with the work of Miklos Rosza, composer of the score to Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound.
Goldsmith started as a composer for radio shows at CBS, and while there, moved into scoring for TV. He scored The Twilight Zone, and in 1962 he scored John Huston’s Freud. Though the movie was poorly received, it earned Goldsmith his first Oscar nomination.
Renowned film composer Alfred Newman was supportive of Goldsmith’s talent at an early stage. The elder Newman was instrumental in getting him the assignment of Lonely Are the Brave at Universal Pictures in 1963. Afterward Goldsmith became a contract composer at 20th Century Fox, a position he held throughout.
Goldsmith progressed at a breakneck pace, scoring for both film and television. During this era he wrote the epic Emmy-winning score for QB VII, the theme to The Waltons and the classic scores for Papillion, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Chinatown and The Wind and the Lion. He later gained status with science fiction and horror fans with scores for Logan’s Run, the chilling and trend-setting score to The Omen, the ominous Alien, and, probably his most popular and long-lasting, the score to Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
During the ’80s Goldsmith continued his work in the sci-fi and horror genres with Poltergeist, Gremlins, Psycho 2 and Ridley Scott’s cult fantasy Legend. He was one of the few composers of his age and stature to use electronic instrumentation in film composing. In 1990 he scored action epic Total Recall, beginning an ongoing collaboration with the film’s director Paul Verhoeven, for whom he also scored Basic Instinct. He worked on films with directors Joe Dante, Stuart Baird and Richard Donner
Near the end of his life, Goldsmith put up a strong fight against cancer, refusing to let it interfere with his workload. He continued to score, conduct and perform up until the end. A limited edition six-CD box set Jerry Goldsmith at 20th Century Fox was released to coincide with his 75th birthday. It meant a great deal to him that his fans continued to appreciate him.
Goldsmith died in his sleep on July 22, 2004.