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John Morris (1926 – 2018), composer for Mel Brooks’s films

Wikimedia Commons/ Cerys Handschumacher

By: kfox

Published: 10 months ago

John Morris, composer for Mel Brooks’s films including “Blazing Saddles,” has died at the age of 91, according to multiple news sources. 

Morris started working with Brooks on the score for his 1968 movie “The Producers.” He also composed the music for the director’s classic movies, “Blazing Saddles,” “Young Frankenstein,” and “High Anxiety.” He worked on all but two of his films. 

He was nominated for an Oscar for co-writing with Mel Brooks the theme song for “Blazing Saddles.” The parody of western movie theme songs was sung by crooner Frankie Laine. 

Morris was also nominated for an Oscar for scoring the movie “The Elephant Man” in 1980. Brooks was one of the producers of the film. 

Morris studied at the Julliard School in New York City. He composed music and dance numbers for a number of Broadway productions. 


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One of Morris’s most well-known movie scores was for 1974’s “Young Frankenstein.” He composed the violin theme song titled “Transylvanian Lullaby,” which has been performed by many top classical artists including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. 

In 2006, Morris gave credit to Brooks for the idea behind the song. Brooks told him, “This is about the monster’s childhood. Write the most beautiful Middle European lullaby.” “So I wrote this tune, and it was perfect for violin. It’s that kind of melody.” 

Morris composed film scores for the movies of Gene Wilder, including “The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother,” and “The World’s Greatest Lover.” 

He also worked on scores for the movies “Dirty Dancing,” “Ironweed,” and “Clue.” He composed the theme song for the popular sitcom “Coach.” 

Mel Brooks told the New York Times in a phone interview, "He (Morris) was my emotional right arm. Music tells you what to feel and he knew what I wanted you to feel. He composed it and made it happen." 

Survivors include his wife, a daughter, five grandchildren and two great- grandchildren.

We invite you to share condolences for John Morris in his Guest Book.