Wednesday, May 28, 2008

RIP Earl Hagen

In September of 1981, I had just transferred to Eastern Illinois University. I had just become friends with my lifelong friend Crazy Horse, a friend I mentioned in a post yesterday (he's also the friend who served a year in Iraq). We had heard about a party and decided to go.

To get into the party, we heard, there were conditions. First, you had to be wearing a hat. Secondly, you had to be carrying a rock. Third, and most important, you had to whistle the theme to the Andy Griffith Show in order to get in.

We entered the party with no problem. To our amazement, the next guy to come to the door had no idea what the whistled theme song to the Andy Griffith Show was. We thought pretty much everybody in the United States knew it.

The composer of that song, Earl Hagen, passed away recently. His obit is in today's New York Times.

Most people would be content to have written one popular, let alone iconic television theme song. Mr. Hagen wrote many, including:

  • The Dick Van Dyke Show

  • I Spy

  • Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.

  • That Girl

  • Mod Squad

  • Make Room For Daddy

  • Eight Is Enough

  • The Dukes of Hazzard

In 1939, according to the New York Times Obit, while on the road with the Noble band, he penned "Harlem Nocturne," which has become a jazz standard. Decades later, that song was used in the "Mike Hammer" series that Stacy Keach starred in.

Hagen had a longtime association with television producer Sheldon Leonard, who many of you might remember as Nick the bartender in the holiday classic It's a Wonderful Life. After decades of playing bit parts, he became an influential television producer, Leonard produced many hit television shows, but continued to take bit parts in movies and television shows nearly to the end of his long life.

Just in case you're one of the eight people in the United States who don't know it, here's a Youtube clip with the Andy Griffith theme song.

You'll have to get the hat and the rock yourself.


Mnmom said...

Long live the Andy Griffith Show!!

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

The dude will be missed.

Erik Donald France said...

Mod Squad theme is cool. I wonder if he was buds with Nelson Riddle?

Viva Earl Hagen!

SkylersDad said...

I just heard about this last night JY! Sheldon Leonard also was the guy who took a big risk at the time by casting Bill Cosby in I Spy.

sexy said...