Fred Steiner (February 24, 1923 - June 23, 2011) was an American composer, conductor, orchestrator, film historian and arranger for television, radio and film. Steiner wrote the theme music for The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, Perry Mason and The Bullwinkle Show. In film, Steiner was one of the team of composers for the 1985 film, The Color Purple, which received an Oscar nomination and was an uncredited composer for Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.
Steiner was most active in television series during the 1950s and 1960s. His numerous composition credits included music for Hogan's Heroes, Have Gun-Will Travel, The Twilight Zone, Gunsmoke, Star Trek and Rawhide.
Steiner was born in New York City.
He received a degree in music composition from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in 1943. He was awarded an honorary doctor of music degree from Oberlin College in 2007.
As a composer for radio, Steiner's credits include the dramatic anthology series On Stage, CBS Radio Workshop, Suspense, and This is Your FBI.
Steiner wrote for a number of television series, including the many episodes of the original Star Trek series to which he contributed scores, more than any other composer. An article he wrote for the Library of Congress, "Music for Star Trek: Scoring a Television Show in the Sixties", outlines and defines the contributions of all the original underscore composers of this series.
Another of Steiner's works, "Park Avenue Beat", was used from 1957 to 1966 as the theme song to Perry Mason and was re-recorded by Dick DeBenedictis for the subsequent made-for-TV movies in 1985; The theme was covered by The Blues Brothers for the soundtrack of the 1998 film Blues Brothers 2000. Steiner also composed the main theme to The Bullwinkle Show and Follow That Man and contributed music to episodes of Lost in Space, The Twilight Zone, and Amazing Stories.
Feature film work:
His feature film work included original music (Run for the Sun, The St. Valentine's Day Massacre) and orchestration/adaptation (sometimes uncredited) for other composers (among them are Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), and The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965).
His Academy Award nomination for "Best Music, Original Score" was for The Color Purple (1985). It was a shared nomination with Quincy Jones, Jeremy Lubbock, Rod Temperton, Caiphus Semenya, Andraé Crouch, Chris Boardman, Jorge Calandrelli, Joel Rosenbaum, Jack Hayes, Jerry Hey, and Randy Kerber. 1
Steiner held a doctorate in Musicology from the University of Southern California (1981). His thesis was about the early career of film composer Alfred Newman. Scholarly articles on film music appear in The Cue Sheet, Film Music Quarterly and the Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress.
Fred Steiner died on June 23, 2011, at his home in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico, after suffering a stroke at the age of 88. He was survived by his wife of 64 years, Shirley Steiner; two daughters, singer-songwriter Wendy Waldman and Jillian Sandrock of Ajijic, Mexico; his sister, Kay Gellert; 2 nieces Willa and Robin; 1 nephew Adam; 2 great-nieces Samantha and Rebecca; 3 great-nephews Lorenzo, Max and Ezra; two grandchildren Saida and Abe; and two great-grandchildren Hannah and Otto.