skip navigation
Overview for Alfred Newman
Alfred Newman

Alfred Newman



TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here


TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)

Recent DVDs

Made for Each... Carole Lombard and James Stewart star in a classic comedy-drama about a young... more info $4.95was $8.99 Buy Now

Also Known As: Pappy Died: February 17, 1970
Born: March 17, 1901 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New Haven, Connecticut, USA Profession: Music ... composer conductor concert pianist


One of Classic Hollywood's leading score composers and orchestra conductors, Alfred Newman was meticulous, professional and passionate about music. (A knack for film music ran in the Newman family: Alfred's brother Lionel and nephew Randy were also renowned composers.) Whether Alfred was scoring music for Broadway plays, epic dramas or light-hearted comedies, he delivered the best in the business. Astonishingly, he was nominated for an Oscar for a record-setting twenty consecutive years, including quite a few wins.

Born in 1901 to a poor family in New Haven, CT, Alfred Newman's early musical abilities were such that his mother insisted on paying for his piano lessons even when getting food on the table was difficult. As a result, Newman was able to help support his family at the age of thirteen by working as a piano soloist at the famed Strand Theater in New York City. By seventeen, he was conducting for musical theater and soon came to the attention of the iconic songwriter Irving Berlin, who invited him to Hollywood to work on his film ?Reaching for the Moon? (1930). Newman went on to work with Charlie Chaplin as conductor for the classic ?Modern Times? (1936) as well being musical director for both John Ford's ?How Green is My Valley? (1941) and Walter Lang's ?Tin Pan Alley? (1941).

In Hollywood's golden era, Newman worked on over a dozen films each year, garnering Oscar nominations the way a collector might gather up new art. When he began his career, sound pictures were a relatively new art form and writing music for film was still being invented. As the industry matured, so too did Al, as his friends called him. But it was while conducting music that he truly came into his own, for Alfred Newman always commented that writing music was too solitary a profession for an outgoing personality like his. He compared composing to ?sitting in a room wearing out pencils.? But put him in front of an orchestra such as the stellar one he collected for his work with Twentieth Century Fox and he shone like a star.

From 1938 until 1957, Newman worked on over 250 films and was nominated every year for at least one Oscar. That twenty years of unbroken nominations includes six wins and an amazing 29 nominations. In the 1960s, he turned his talents to television and worked as composer for the anthology drama series ?Hong Kong? (ABC 1960-61), as well as conducting the orchestra for the 35th Annual Academy Awards in 1963. His role as music supervisor and conductor for the 1962 remake of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical ?State Fair? made him the only composer to work on two versions of the same musical film: he had been nominated for an Oscar for his work on the original 1945 version. Although his work load slowed somewhat in the 1960s, Newman continued composing and conducting. He was nominated for his final Oscar for his work on the pioneering disaster movie ?Airport? (1970), which was released the same year that he died at the age of 68.

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute