The Jerry Fielding Website

Welcome to the website dedicated to one of the most briliant filmcomposers
 in the history of cinema.
Here you’ll find information about his career
(section “Home & Timeline”)
work for film & television
(section  “Filmography & Unknown Credits" and “TV-Credits”)
soundtrack releases
(section “Soundtracks & Compilations”)
and his work as an arranger / conductor on records
(section “Discography #1 + #2 & 45”)

- in memory of Jerry & Nick - 

Timeline

1922

Born as Joshua Itzhak Feldman on June 17 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA,
son of russian immigrants. Learns to play the trombone, clarinet and piano.

 

1936

While playing in his school band he turned out to be a very gifted musician
and was offered a scholarship at the Carnegie Institute for Instrumentalists
(Carnegie Institute of Technology).

Unfortunately Fielding became very ill and had to spend the next two years in bed.

 

1938

When he was finally fully recovered at the age of 16 he decided not to continue his education but started to work for conductor Max Atkins at the Stanley Theatre in Pittsburgh.

Here he learned from Atkins the art of composing and arranging and soon he was writing for the theatric pit band.

 

1939

When Fielding was 17 he was asked by guitar player Alvino Rey to come with him
to L.A. and starts arranging for his new band which included Frank DeVol on sax
and the King Sisters.

 

1940

Start WWII. Fielding isn’t drafted (turned down on medical  grounds).

The Alvino Ray Orchestra run out of gigs and his works for Alvino Ray
comes to an end eventually.

 

1942

Release of an 78 record [Bluebird B 11501] by the Alvino Rey and his Orchestra.

The B-side contains “Picnic in Purgatory” composed and arranged by Jerry Feldman.

Fielding’s first record.

 

1943

A singing group called The Town Criers (made up of Lucy Ann , Gordon,

Vernon and Elva Polk) hires Fielding as a vocal arranger for them.

By this time he is also an in-demand freelance arranger for people like

Tommy Dorsey, Charlie Barnet, Claude Thornhill and Jimmie Lunceford.

 

1944

The Town Criers join the Kay Kyser band.

George Duning is Kyser’s chief arranger but is called into the armed services.

 

1945

Fielding becomes Kyser’s new chief arranger.

 

1946

Marries Ann Parks (production assitant of Kay Kyser) in Mexico.

 

1947

Begins writing for radio shows starring Bob Crosby, Hoagy Carmichael, Kate Smith
and the Andrews Sisters.

 

1947

Becomes the musical director of “The Jack Paar Show” in 1947.
Soon followed by “The Sweeney and March Show” (1948), “The Hardy Family” (1949)
and “The Life of Riley” (1949).

 

1947

Fielding is forced to change his name (what was considered “too Jewish”) so that he could continue working on live radio. He changes it from Feldman to Fielding.

 

1948

Groucho Marx made his first radio show in 1947. When Billy May the first musical director of the show left Jerry Fielding replaces him.

 

1951

In 1950 NBC developed a tv version (“You bet your Life”) of the radio show with Groucho Marx. The first season used library cues by Alexander Laszlo but the second season (1951–1952) would feature a live band. Fielding was brought in to lead and arrange the orchestra.

 

1952

Takes lessons with veteran composers Ernest Toch and  Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco at USC in Los Angeles. Tedesco already had an impressive list of pupils: Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, Henry Mancini, Andre Previn and Nelson Riddle to name a few.

 

1952

Fielding forms his own band. People like Maurice Harris on trumpet and Joe Howard on trombone will not only play on a lot of his records but also on his film scores for the next 30 years.

 

1952

Gets his own 30-min. music program on TV called “The Jerry Fielding Show”.

 

1953

Scores his first TV show, the comedy “The Life of Riley” a television adaptation of the radio series "The Life of Riley" (1944-1951). Theme composed by Fielding and some episodes.

 

1953

Blacklisted by Joseph McCarthy.

Fielding was a member of a party called the (Independent) Progressive Party which caugth the attention of the FBI thinking it had something to do with the Communist Party. He was called to testify in front of the Hous of Un-American Activities Comittee. Instead of giving them names he took the fifth amendment and was blacklisted as a result.

 

1953

Resignes from the Groucho Marx show after the sponsor of “You bet your Life” already demanded that Fielding would be fired. This also meant the ending of Fielding’s career in Hollywood. Fielding was blacklisted untill 1961.

 

1953

Finds some work as a band leader in Las Vegas (Royal Las Vegas Hotel & Stardust).

He served as musical director for stars like Abbott & Costello, Cesar Romero, Debbie Reynolds, Eddie Fisher, Eve Arden, Edie Adams and Mitzi Gaynor and Betty Hutton

Simutaneously he starts working as an arranger/conductor performing popular songs with his own orchestra for record labels like Trend and Decca.

 

1953

Records his first own album “Jerry Fielding and his Great New Orchestra” for Trend Records.


1955

Starts to arrange and conduct the records of artists like Ruth Oley, Jeri Southern
and Peggy Dietrick.

 

1957

Release of his album “Swingin’ in Hi-Fi” which contain four original compositions by Fielding.

 

1957

Arranges and conducts the albums for artists like Mary Kaye, Kathy Barr, Gloria Wood
and Pat Boone.

 

1958

Release of his own albums “Fielding’s Formula” and “Hollywood Jazztet” (both  featuring a Johnny Williams on piano!). He leaves Decca Records.

 

1959

Arranges and conducts the first of three albums for singer Debbie Reynolds.

Starting with her first solo album called “Debbie”.

 

1959

Arranges and conducts Betty Hutton’s new album “At the Saints & Sinners Ball”.

When Betty Hutton was offered a tv-show of her own in 1959 (“The Betty Hutton Show”)

she insisted that Jerry Fielding would be hired as musical director. 
CBS agreed and Fielding was working in Hollywood again after six long years.

 

1961

Writes music for the TV shows “Peter loves Mary” and “The Tom Ewell Show”. 

 

1961

Arranges and conducts two albums for Time Records “Magnificence in Brass”
and “A Bit of Ireland” .

 

1962

Gets the chance  to score his first feature film “Advise & Consent” after being recommended by Dalton Trumbo to director Otto Preminger.

The score is also released by RCA making it his first soundtrack album.

Unfortunately the ballad  “Heart of Mine” sung by Frank Sinatra and written by Fielding with lyrics by Ned Washington was not on the album. Sinatra wasn’t to “happy” with it after he found out that the song was used in a scene that played in a gay bar.

 

1962

Start of a long collaboration with Lennie Niehaus who would orchestrate for Fielding (together with Greig McRitchie) until his death in 1980.

 

1962

Marriage with Ann Parks ends.

 

1962

Musical Director for the TV show “The Lively Ones” hosted by Vic Damone.

Many great jazz musicians are guests on the show.

 

1963

Marries Camille Williams a dancer whom he’d met in Las Vegas 1957.


1964

Scores “McHale Navy” and “McHale's Navy joins the Air Force” (1965)
for producer Edward H. Feldman.

 

1965

Writes a theme for a new television show called “Hogan’s Heroes”  and scores the pilot episode produced by Edward H. Feldman. The show turns out to be a hit-series.

 

1965

Records for the last time (a 45) with Debbie Reynolds
(“Sweetheart Tree” / “From where I sit”).

 

1966

First time collaboration with producer / writer / director Leonard B. Stern for a tv-series called “Run, Buddy, Run”. They would work together on others shows like “He & She” (1967), “The Good Guys” (1969), “McMillan and Wife” (1971) and “The Snoop Sisters” (1973).

 

1966

First time collaboration with director Sam Peckinpah for a television play called “Noon Wine”.

 

1967 

Scores episodes for hit-series like “Mannix”, “Mission: Impossible” and “Star Trek”.

 

1967

Records his last own (non soundtrack) album “Near East Brass and West Coast Style” which also contains three original Fielding compositions.

 

1967

Writes his first song with lyricist David McKechnie. 
“His Chidren's Parade” for Richard Dawson.

This was also the last time Fielding worked as an arranger / conductor.

 

1969

Scores the “The Wild Bunch” and earns his first Academy Award nomination.

 

1969

Musical Director for a Debbie Reynolds TV special called
“Debbie Reynolds and the Sound of Children”.

 

1970

 Fielding does not score Peckinpah next picture (“The Ballad of Cable Hogue”) although everyone praised Fielding for his work on "The Wild Bunch”. 
Peckinpah thought Fielding’s music had damaged his picture and didn’t want to work with the composer again. Jerry Goldsmith takes over the scoring duties.

 

1971

First time collaboration with director Michael Winner on the western “Lawman”.

Between 1971 and 1973 they would work on five pictures together: “Lawman”,

“Chato’s Land” (both 1971), “The Nightcomers”, “The Mechanic” (both 1972) and “Scorpio” (1973).

 

1971

Writes the theme and scores episodes  for  the successful Rock Hudson tv-series “McMillan and Wife” part of the sunday NBC Mystery Movie (together with “Columbo” and “McCloud”). 

 

1971

Fielding scores Dalton Trumbo’s only picture “Johnny got his Gun”.

 

1971

By the end of 1971 things were settled again between Fielding and Sam Peckinpah. They would do four more pictures together: “Straw Dogs” (1971), “Junior Bonner” (1972), “Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia” (1974) and “The Killer Elite” (1975).

Fielding earns his second Academy Award nominated with the score for “Straw Dogs”.

 

1972

Sees his score for “The Getaway” getting rejected. When the picture was finished the film’s star Steve McQueen didn’t like the score and asked his friend Quincy Jones to write a lighter and jazzier score. Peckinpah protested but couldn’t do anything about it. He apologized  to his friend Fielding by putting an ad in Daily Variety congratulating him for a great job he did. 

 

1973

Was asked to co-write music for Peckinpah’s new western “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid” but left the film because he didn’t want to work with Bob Dylan anymore after a few sessions. Thought Dylan’s music was "a lot of nonsense which is strictly for teenyboppers".

 

1975

Scores “The Killer Elite” which would be his last film for Sam Peckinpah .

 

1976

First time collaboration with actor / director Clint Eastwood on  “The Outlaw Josey Wales”.

Nominated again for an Academy Award. 

The score gets an album release. His first soundtrack album since “The Wild Bunch”! 

 

1976

When Lalo Schifrin was unavailable to continue the Dirty Harry sage Eastwood calls Fielding again to take over the scoring duties. Together they would make two more pictures: “The Gauntlet” (1977) and “Escape from Alcatraz” (1979).

 

1976

Writes the theme and scores some of the episodes for the hit tv-series
“The Bionic Woman”, a spin-off of the “Six Million Dollar Man” show. 

While working on the show he had to endure a series of heart attacks and had to drop out.

Gets replaced by his friend Joe Harnell.

 

1977

Being an American prevents him from scoring Peckinpah’s next European picture
“Cross of Iron”.

 

1977

Writes an  avant-garde scores for “Demon Seed”.

 

1978

Last score for a Michael Winner picture: “The Big Sleep” 

Because of scheduling conflicts Fielding hadn't been able to work with Winner
again on "The Stone Killer" in 1973 and "Death Wish" in 1974.


1978

Was hired to score Peckinpah’s “Convoy”. The (post)production is a mess (with Peckinpah being fired) and Fielding gets replaced like Richard Gillis’ song "Blow the Gates to Heaven" by the studio before he can start to work.

 

1978

Still with almost non of his film scores released Tony Thomas produces two albums for Citadel Records with Fielding’s music in the late 70’s. Elmer Berstein does the same with the music for “Scorpio” on his Film Music Collection label.

 

1980

Begins recording the music for his last picture (“Funeral Home”)
on february 13 in Toronto, Canada. 

He dies in his sleep of heart failure a few days later on february 17, 1980.

 

1980

Posthumously  wins an EMMY for the tv-movie  “High Midnight” (1979)