July 08, 2010

Emmy-Winning Composer Allyn Ferguson Passes

Ferguson co-wrote theme songs for such iconic programs as Charlie's Angels and Barney Miller and wrote scores for more than 60 television movies. The former Television Academy music peer group governor was 85.

Allyn Ferguson, an Emmy-winning composer with many well known television credits, died June 23, 2010, at his home in Westlake Village, near Los Angeles. He was 85.

A prolific and widely respected composer, Ferguson wrote scores for numerous television episodes during the 1970s and ’80s. Perhaps his best-known pieces were the themes for the popular series Charlie’s Angels and Barney Miller, which he co-wrote with Jack Elliott. The two men also contributed music to such series as The Rookies, S.W.A.T., Starsky & Hutch, Police Story, Banacek and Fish.

On his own, Ferguson wrote scores for more than 60 television movies, including several adaptations of classic literature produced by Norman Rosemont, among them The Count of Monte Cristo, The Man in the Iron Mask, Les Misérables and Camille.

For the latter, a Hallmark Hall of Fame production that aired on CBS, he won a 1985 Primetime Emmy award for Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Limited Series or a Special (Dramatic Underscore). He earned eight Emmy nominations during his career.

Ferguson was also an active member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. In addition to serving multiple terms as a governor of the organization's music peer group, he participated in several committees.

Allyn Malcolm Ferguson Jr. was born on October 18, 1924, in San Jose, California. He began trumpet lessons at age four and began studying piano at age seven. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from San Jose State University and studied music with Nadia Boulanger in Paris and with Aaron Copland at Tanglewood in Massachusetts.

In addition to his work for television, Ferguson conducted and was musical co-director for Academy Award, Emmy and Grammy shows.

He also worked as an arranger or musical director for artists such as Sarah Vaughan, Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis and Julie Andrews, and wrote the arrangements for the Count Basie Orchestra’s 1998 Grammy-winning album, Count Plays Duke.

Ferguson is survived by his wife, two sons, a daughter, a sister and six grandchildren.

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