Monday, March 26, 2007
Century Birthday - Leigh Harline
BORN 100 YEARS AGO TODAY
Leigh Adrian Harline, the youngest of Carl and Matilda Harline's thirteen children, was born March 26, 1907 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He received music training from J. Spencer Cornwall, conductor of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and following his graduation from the University of Utah, he began working for a string of radio stations.
His radio work sent him to San Francisco and, by 1929, to Los Angeles where he was music director and announcer at KHJ radio. He went to work at the Walt Disney Studio in 1932 arranging and scoring animated shorts. As Disney began production of his features, Harline was enlisted to write songs along with Frank Churchill and Paul J. Smith. His most famous composition, When You Wish Upon a Star, was written for Pinocchio and the following year he received an Academy Award for it and another for the film's memorable score.
By this point Leigh had started also working for Columbia Pictures, scoring several features a year, among them the films of the "Blondie" series with Penny Singleton and Arthur Lake. He did his last work for Disney in 1941 with his music for the Pluto short, The Sleepwalker. Over the next twenty years Harline was recognized by the Academy with five more nominations for the Best Music Oscar. In 1947 he was commissioned to write an orchestral work for the centennial of the settlement of Utah. He later wrote the musical scores for two well-known films for the Church, Man's Search for Happiness, and In This Holy Place.
From the late 1940s he worked almost exclusively for 20th Century Fox but he also composed for Paramount and later MGM. In the mid 1960s he worked on several television shows and he even was involved with music for a New York World's Fair film.
Leigh Harline passed away on December 10, 1969 from complications of throat cancer.