John Morris 101: Successful Film Composer
Zatrun Published at September 19, 2023

In this article, titled “John Morris 101: Who is the Successful Film Composer?” we will delve into everything you need to know about John Morris, the accomplished film composer that our readers at are curious about.

Who is John Morris?

John Leonard Morris (October 18, 1926 – January 25, 2018) was an American film, television, and Broadway composer, dance arranger, conductor, and trained concert pianist. He collaborated on films with notable figures such as Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder. Morris was born to engineer Thomas Morris, who designed revolving doors for the Tiffany & Co. flagship store, and homemaker Helen Sherratt in Elizabeth, New Jersey. At the age of three, while visiting friends with his parents in The Bronx, he became interested in playing the piano.

John Morris

When he was still young, his family moved to Independence, Kansas and Morris continued his piano studies. In the late 1940s, he returned to New York City and received education from both the Juilliard School and The New School for Social Research.

Career Life

From the 1950s to the 1970s, Morris helped compose interstitial music and dance numbers for Broadway productions, including Wildcat (1960), Hot Spot (1963), Baker Street (1965), Dear World (1969), Mack & Mabel (1974), and Hamlet (1975). In 1966, he wrote and produced his own musical, A Time for Singing. Morris began working with Mel Brooks, and continued with Brooks’ first film, The Producers. Prior to this, the two had collaborated on two musicals, Shinbone Alley (1957) and All-American (1962). Morris arranged the original score for The Producers’ Springtime for Hitler and composed the rest of the film’s music.

Morris continued to work with Brooks on twenty films, including Blazing Saddles (for which he and Brooks received an Oscar nomination for the theme song), Young Frankenstein (for which he composed the famous “Transylvanian Lullaby”), and The Elephant Man (for which he received Grammy and Oscar nominations for the music). Only two of Brooks’ films, Robin Hood: Men in Tights and Dracula: Dead and Loving It, were scored by Hummie Mann. Brooks explained in an interview with Film Score Monthly that Morris was too busy with other projects to compose music for Men in Tights or Dead and Loving It.

John Morris also assisted in the scoring of films by actors who worked with Brooks, including Gene Wilder’s The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, The World’s Greatest Lover, The Woman in Red, and Haunted Honeymoon, as well as Marty Feldman’s The Last Remake of Beau Geste and In God We Tru$t. Morris composed music for several films and a few television shows, and created theme music for The French Chef and Coach. He won a Daytime Emmy for his music for the TV miniseries The Tap Dance Kid.

Personal Life and Death

John Morris was married to Francesca Bosetti and had a son named Evan and a daughter named Bronwen. Evan passed away in 2014. Morris passed away on January 25, 2018 at the age of 91 at his home in Red Hook, New York due to complications related to a respiratory infection. He is survived by his wife, daughter, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Brooks said of Morris’s death, “He was my emotional right arm. Music tells you what to feel, and he knew what I wanted you to feel. He composed and realized it.”

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