Tuesday, October 20, 2009

He wrote the greatest TV themes of all time

Vic Mizzy has died at home in Bel Air at 93. Amid the glut of celebrity and pop culture deaths in 2009, we've of late been relegating notable passings to our Death of The Day section at the right of the page, but Vic Mizzy deserves special mention.

He wrote the theme songs to Green Acres and The Addams Family.

The LA Times:

"Then came an offbeat assignment: 'The Addams Family,' the 1964-66 TV series based on Charles Addams' macabre magazine cartoons and starring John Astin as Gomez Addams and Carolyn Jones as his wife, Morticia. For his theme song, Mizzy played a harpsichord, which gives the theme its unique flavor. And because the production company, Filmways, refused to pay for singers, Mizzy sang it himself and overdubbed it three times. The song, memorably punctuated by finger-snapping, begins with: 'They're creepy and they're kooky, mysterious and spooky, they're altogether ooky: the Addams family.'

"In the 1996 book 'TV's Biggest Hits: The Story of Television Themes From Dragnet to Friends,' author Jon Burlingame writes that Mizzy's 'musical conception was so specific that he became deeply involved with the filming of the main-title sequence, which involved all seven actors snapping their fingers in carefully timed rhythm to Mizzy's music.'

"For Mizzy, who owned the publishing rights to The Addams Family theme, it was an easy payday.

"'I sat down; I went "buh-buh-buh-bump [snap-snap], buh-buh-buh-bump," he recalled in a 2008 interview on CBS' Sunday Morning show. 'That's why I'm living in Bel-Air: Two finger snaps and you live in Bel-Air.'

"The season after The Addams Family made its debut, Mizzy composed the title song for Green Acres, the 1965-71 rural comedy starring Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor.

"For Green Acres, Burlingame observed in his book, Mizzy 'again conceived the title song as intertwined with the visuals' of the show's title sequence and telling the story of wealthy Oliver and Lisa Douglas moving from New York to a farm in the country."

Both tunes are brilliant work of hipster pop, still memorable and singable today, and as influential to and ingrained in a generation as any rock'n'roll of the Sixties.

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