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John Morris, ‘Blazing Saddles’ and ‘Young Frankenstein’ Composer, Dies at 91

Morris was a longtime collaborator with Mel Brooks

Last Updated: January 30, 2018 @ 4:13 PM

John Morris, who provided the score for many of Mel Brooks’ films including “Blazing Saddles” and “Young Frankenstein,” died Thursday at age 91, according to his daughter, Bronwen Morris.

Morris’ partnership with Brooks dates back to 1967, when he wrote the score for Brooks’ film, “The Producers,” as well as the original arrangement for the musical’s showstopping number “Springtime for Hitler.” Morris received Oscar nominations for the title song from “Blazing Saddles” and another for the score for the 1980 drama “The Elephant Man,” which Brooks produced. He also received a Grammy nomination for his “Elephant Man” score.

Morris’ other credits on Brooks films include the score for “Spaceballs,” “The Twelve Chairs,” “History of the World, Part I” and, most famously, “Young Frankenstein,” where the recurring motif for the Frankenstein monster’s childhood became one of the most recognizable themes in modern movie history.

Beyond his work with Brooks, Morris’ works include scores for “Dirty Dancing,” “Clue” and “The Woman in Red.” He also won an Emmy in 1978 for his score on the after-school special “The Tap Dance Kid,” highlighting a TV career that included the themes for Julia Child’s long-running cooking show “The French Chef” and the Craig T. Nelson comedy “Coach.”

Morris died at his home in Red Hook, New York, and is survived by his wife, a daughter, five grandchildren and two great- grandchildren.