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Randy Newman

Randy Newman

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Also Known As: Randall Stuart Newman Died:
Born: November 28, 1943 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Los Angeles, California, USA Profession: composer, singer, arranger, orchestrator, pianist, conductor, screenwriter

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Once dubbed the "Susan Lucci of the Oscars," singer-songwriter-film composer Randy Newman had been one of the most oft-nominated individuals at the Academy Awards without ever having won â¿¿ that is, till he finally took home the award for his original song, "If I Didn't Have You" from "Monsters, Inc." (2001). Prior to courting the Oscars, Newman had been a popular writer of novelty songs that were both sardonic and catchy throughout the 1960s and 1970s. One of his most infamous was "Short People," which not only became his biggest hit, but also inspired enough contempt that the Maryland state legislature tried to make it illegal for the song to be played on radio. Though he had his start writing songs and themes for television and film, Newman would not be officially associated with scoring movies until he wrote the music for "Ragtime" (1981), which deviated wildly from his sarcastic ditties from a decade prior. Newman would go on to score the music and write songs for some of the biggest movies of the next two decades, including "The Natural" (1984), "Parenthood" (1989), "Toy Story" (1995), "A Bug's Life" (1998) and "Babe: Pig in the City" (1998). While all earned him Academy Award nominations, he...

Once dubbed the "Susan Lucci of the Oscars," singer-songwriter-film composer Randy Newman had been one of the most oft-nominated individuals at the Academy Awards without ever having won â¿¿ that is, till he finally took home the award for his original song, "If I Didn't Have You" from "Monsters, Inc." (2001). Prior to courting the Oscars, Newman had been a popular writer of novelty songs that were both sardonic and catchy throughout the 1960s and 1970s. One of his most infamous was "Short People," which not only became his biggest hit, but also inspired enough contempt that the Maryland state legislature tried to make it illegal for the song to be played on radio. Though he had his start writing songs and themes for television and film, Newman would not be officially associated with scoring movies until he wrote the music for "Ragtime" (1981), which deviated wildly from his sarcastic ditties from a decade prior. Newman would go on to score the music and write songs for some of the biggest movies of the next two decades, including "The Natural" (1984), "Parenthood" (1989), "Toy Story" (1995), "A Bug's Life" (1998) and "Babe: Pig in the City" (1998). While all earned him Academy Award nominations, he became almost as famous for NOT winning as he did for the compositions themselves. But after 16 tries and finally winning the coveted statue, there had never been any doubt within the industry or with movie fans that Newman was one of the most revered and prolific film songwriters of all time.

Born on Nov. 28, 1942 in Los Angeles, CA, Newman was raised by his father, Irving, a musician-turned-doctor, and his mother, Adele, a secretary. Hailing from a family of motion picture composers â¿¿ which included his uncles Alfred Newman, Emil Newman and Lionel Newman â¿¿ he grew up surrounded by both music and Hollywood, which led to piano lessons at age six. Uncle Alfred was the most successful of the three, having scored some of the biggest films in Hollywood history, including "City Lights" (1931), "Wuthering Heights" (1939), "How Green Was My Valley" (1941), "All About Eve" and "Airport" (1970), as well as composing the famous 20th Century Fox fanfare still heard playing over the company logo. After a brief interlude living with his mother's family in New Orleans â¿¿ also a hotbed of music â¿¿ young Newman graduated from University High in Los Angeles. By the time he was 17, he was a contract songwriter for Metro Music, recording his first song, "They Tell Me Its Summer" (1962), for the Fleetwoods. Switching gears, Newman decided to pursue composing and arranging at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he studied music theory. In failing to complete a musical performance requirement, however, Newman did not graduate. But he did continue his success in the professional world, earning his first television credit for penning a saxophone instrumental for a 1962 episode of "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" (CBS, 1959-1963), followed by his first song for a motion picture, "Look At Me," which he co-wrote with Bobby Darin for the action drama "The Lively Set" (1964).

In 1964, Newman began a three year stint working out of the television music library at 20th Century Fox â¿¿ incidentally, the studio that all of his uncles called home at one time or another â¿¿ and where he penned music cues and themes for various series made by the studio, including the primetime drama "Peyton Place" (ABC, 1964-69). After signing with Reprise Records as a recording artist, Newman recorded and released his self-titled debut album, which earned critical praise but failed to break into the Billboard Top 200. Several popular artists, however, covered his songs, including "I Think It's Going to Rain Today," which became an industry standard. Though he composed the music for his first film, "Performance," in 1970, the movie was not released for another two years. In the meantime, he began touring on his own and even penned his first bona fide hit, "Mama Told Me Not to Come" (1970) for Three Dog Night. After contributing an original song to "The Pursuit of Happiness" (1971) and writing the film score for the Norman Lear comedy "Cold Turkey" (1971), Newman released more albums, including Sail Away (1972) and Good Old Boys (1974), which featured one of his all-time favorite songs, "Rednecks."

In 1977, Newman achieved a strong degree of notoriety when he released his next album, Little Criminals, which contained the surprise hit song, "Short People." With lyrics "Short people have no reason to live," Newman generated backlash from those who took the song literally, even as the song climbed the charts to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and despite the fact that the obviously satirical song was written as a condemnation of prejudice. Though he claimed the "Short People" was "one of the least controversial things I've written," the song and its songwriter forever remained infamous. Following the less-successful Born Again, Newman returned to Hollywood to compose the haunting, hypnotic waltz score for "Ragtime" (1981), which earned him his first two Academy Award nominations â¿¿ one for Best Original Score and the other for Best Original Song ("One More Hour"). After another hit single, "I Love L.A.," which was part of hisTrouble in Paradise (1983) album, he earned another Oscar nod for his grand score for Barry Levinson's elegiac look at America's pastime, "The Natural" (1984), for which he won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition.

After pitching in to write the screenplay â¿¿ as well as several songs â¿¿ for "Three Amigos!" (1986), in which he also appeared as a singing bush, Newman suffered a personal setback when he was diagnosed as a sufferer of the physically debilitating Epstein-Barr Syndrome, also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. He bounced back, however, with his Oscar-nominated song, "I Love to See You Smile" for Ron Howard's "Parenthood" (1989) and his Oscar-nominated score for Barry Levinson's "Avalon" (1990), which fellow composer Hans Zimmer declared "the most beautiful American score ever written." Teaming up with Ron Howard once again, he earned yet another Academy Award nod for the song "Make Up Your Mind" for the director's media satire, "The Paper" (1994). Though that year he failed to pick up any further nods for his jaunty Western score for the Mel Gibson vehicle, "Maverick" (1994), Newman did find himself back at the Academy Awards for his song "You've Got a Friend in Me" and score for the first all computer-generated animated film, "Toy Story" (1995). He made his first foray into composing music for the theater when he wrote the music and lyrics for "Faust" (1995), which was inspired by reading G the's adaptation of the famed German legend. However, mixed reviews while performing the musical in Chicago put the project on temporary hold.

Having already been something of an institution, Newman found his niche composing music and songs for several animated films, including Tim Burton's "James and the Giant Peach" (1996), which earned him his ninth Academy Award nomination without a win. In 1998, he pulled off something that was accomplished only once before by Andre Previn in 1960, when he received Oscar nominations in three different categories: Original Musical or Comedy Score, Original Dramatic Score and Original Song for three different films â¿¿ "A Bug's Life," "Pleasantville" and "That'll Do" from "Babe: Pig in the City," respectively. With the increased odds of winning, one might have safely assumed 1998 was Newman's year to finally break through. But as fate would have it, his Oscar glory would have to wait for another time. He had another shot at the title the following year for his song "When She Loved Me," which appeared in "Toy Story 2" (1999), but again he failed to make the grade. Meanwhile, following an 11-year hiatus from recording albums, he made Bad Love (1999), which found Newman returning to the biting satire that had made him famous in the 1970s.

After being nominated a 14th time for "A Fool in Love" from "Meet the Parents" (2000), Newman finally took home the coveted Oscar for his original song, "If I Didn't Have You," from the animated feature "Monsters, Inc." (2001). Beating out Sting and Paul McCartney, the "Susan Lucci of the Oscars" brought the house down when he accepted his long-desired statuette after 16 career nominations, imploring "I don't want y our pity." His total career Oscar nods pushed him ahead of Uncle Lionel's 11, though he was nowhere in the vicinity of Uncle Alfred's 45 nominations and nine wins. He was setting the pace, however, for the second generation of Newman movie composers, which included Alfred's sons David and Thomas. Meanwhile, "If I Didn't Have You" also earned him a Grammy Award, but winning the Oscar was, for him, the greatest satisfaction. Following a song for "Jurassic Park III" (2001), he wrote the music for the Oscar-nominated drama, "Seabiscuit" (2003), though no Academy Award nods came his way for those efforts. Newman settled into a nice creative groove with songs for "Kangaroo Jack" (2003), "Mr. 3000" (2004) and "Meet the Fockers" (2004) before he found himself back in Oscar contention for a 17th time for his song "Our Town," which was featured in Pixar's animated "Cars" (2006).

Following his composing the music for George Clooney's "Leatherheads" (2006), Newman joined forces again with Disney to pen the music and orchestrations for "The Princess and the Frog" (2009). Prior to that film score, he released another album after another decade-long hiatus, Harps and Angels (2008), which garnered strong critical acclaim. Meanwhile, he received yet more Oscar nominations for Best Original Song, this time for "Almost There" and "Down in New Orleans" from "The Princess and the Frog." He also found himself in Emmy contention for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for the song "When I'm Gone" from the long-running series, "Monk" (USA Network, 2001-09). Newman was again at the top of his game after writing the music for "Toy Story 3" (2010), which not only earned him a Grammy Award nomination for Best Score, but also his 20th Oscar nod, this time for his Best Original Song, "We Belong Together."

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1950:
Started taking piano lessons at age six
1959:
Wrote first songs at age 15
1960:
At age 17, became a contract song writer for Metro Music (part of Liberty)
1962:
First recorded song, "They Tell Me It's Summer," a B side sung by the Fleetwoods
1962:
First TV credit, penned an untitled saxophone instrumental for an episode of "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" (CBS)
1964:
Contributed first song "Look at Me" to a Hollywood film "The Lively Set," co-written with Bobby Darin
1964:
Worked at the TV music library at 20th Century Fox; wrote music cues and themes for series produced by the studio
1967:
Joined Reprise Records as a recording artist
1968:
Released self titled debut album, which included the song "I Think It's Gonna Rain Today"
1970:
Conducted music for "Performance" (film released 1972)
1970:
Had first U.S. hit with Three Dog Night's recording of "Mama Told Me Not to Come"
1971:
Contributed an original song to "The Pursuit of Happiness"
1971:
Wrote first film score for Norman Lear's "Cold Turkey"
1977:
Had first commercial success with the song "Short People"; led to first gold record for album <i>Little Criminals</i>
1981:
Composed film score for Milos Forman's "Ragtime"; received first Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for Best Original Score and Best Song ("One More Hour")
1983:
Released <i>Trouble in Paradise</i>, which included the hit single "I Love L.A."; song later used by the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium
1984:
Provided the lush underscore for Barry Levinson's "The Natural"; earned third Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score
1986:
Co-scripted "Three Amigos!" with Steve Martin and Lorne Michaels; also wrote three songs for film and provided voice for the singing bush
1988:
Released the album <i>Land of Dreams</i>
1989:
Wrote the song "I Love to See You Smile" for the Ron Howard film "Parenthood"; earned Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for Best Original Song
1990:
Wrote the dramatic score to "Avalon," directed by Barry Levinson; earned fifth Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe nomination
1994:
Received Best Song Academy Award nomination for "Make Up Your Mind" from the Ron Howard film "The Paper"
1995:
Provided music for first all-computer-generated animated film "Toy Story"; earned an Oscar nomination for Best Original Score and Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for Best Song ("You've Got a Friend")
1995:
First composition for musical theater, "Faust"; project put on hold after second production in Chicago was met with mixed reviews; wrote the book as well as music and lyrics
1996:
Picked up ninth Academy Award nomination for the score to animated film "James and the Giant Peach"
1997:
Fired by director Wolfgang Petersen after completing the score for "Air Force One"; work was replaced by Jerry Goldsmith's score
1998:
Earned tenth Oscar nomination for Best Original Song "That'll Do" from "Babe: Pig in the City"
1998:
Composed the music for "A Bug's Life" and "Pleasantville"; earned Best Original Score Academy Award nominations for both films
1999:
Penned the lively score for animated sequel "Toy Story 2"; also wrote songs including "When She Loved You"; earned Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for Best Original Score
2001:
Earned 14th career Academy Award nomination for the song "A Fool in Love" from "Meet the Parents"
2002:
Won first Academy Award for the song "If I Didn't Have You" from animated film "Monsters, Inc."; also nominated for Best Original Score
2002:
Wrote the theme song of "Monk" (USA Network) titled "It's a Jungle out There"
2003:
Contributed on the soundtrack of "Seabiscuit"
2004:
Wrote music for comedy sequel "Meet the Fockers"
2006:
Scored animated film "Cars" and wrote the song "Our Town"; earned an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song
2009:
Wrote music for Disney animated feature "The Princess and the Frog"; earned two Oscar nominations for Original Song for "Almost There" and "Down in New Orleans"; also earned a Grammy nomination for Best Song for "Down in New Orleans"
2010:
Composed score for "Toy Story 3"; earned Grammy nomination for Best Score Soundtrack
2012:
Announced as an inductee into the 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
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Education

University High School: Los Angeles , California -
University of California, Los Angeles: Los Angeles , California -

Notes

There is a Web site at www.randynewman.com

Because his father was in the US Army between 1944-46, the family moved frequently, living in New Orleans, Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi; and Mobile, Alabama. As a result, Newman's birthplace is often mistakenly said to be New Orleans.

As a child, Newman had four or five operations for crossed eyes.

Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002.

"I prefer making a little noise to being mellowed out. If I had to eliminate easy listening or heavy metal, I'd eliminate easy listening. If one thing had to go, I'd eliminate the sort of nice, mellow music to chew potato chips and talk to your friends by. I don't care for that too much. I like the edge to rock. Mostly, I admire people who say something." --Randy Newman quoted in Playboy, 1987.

"I know it's not the wisest thing to say when one is entering the field, but except for Stephen Sondheim and the occasional show like 'Falsettos', I don't think what's on Broadway today measures up to the past. Most television is better. To me there's no doubt about the fact that for years the best music has been rock-and-roll." --Newman to Stephen Holden in The New York Times, September 24, 1995.

"I always thought I'd do pictures. I had classical training and could do it, I thought. But, yeah, some trepidation because, I mean, they were strict. I'd have lunch at Fox where Lionel [Newman] and Jerry Goldsmith and Johnny Williams would be sitting around. I heard somebody say once, 'Oh, Beethoven's Emperor Concerto is a piece of shit.' It makes a kid a little nervous hearing that. They'd see a concert and be complaining: 'They never took the goddam mutes off.' So I'm listening to all this stuff, and my mouth drops open. It made you afraid to put a note down. Now I know, you know? Fuck it. It's just talk. As great as Johnny and Jerry are and were, there's room for others." --Newman quoted in The Hollywood Reporter Film & TV Music Special Issue, January 15, 1997.

"My uncles were kinda different in the way they dealt with how I didn't go in for their kind of Hollywood music composing careers. Emil was always supportive. Alfred mysteriously kept telling me, 'Whatever you do, keep writing songs.' Lionel was nice but he could also be rough. At a family party in the 80s, he was playing some 1930s songs, and called out to me, 'Rand? Is this song yours?' I told him it wasn't, and he answered, 'I was wondering, because it doesn't have a melody.'" --Newman to Robert Koehler, quoted in Daily Variety, July 15, 1997.

"Randy Newman should be a happy man, but he seems steeped in bitterness. He is bitter because the music he writes for the movies (like the upbeat score for 'Toy Story' and the lush orchestration for 'Ragtime') sells better, and earns more recognition, than the biting songs he writes for himself, songs like 'Short People,' 'Rednecks' and 'Lonely at the Top.'" --From The New York Times, March 22, 2002.

"It was a bigger deal than I'd have thought. I was actually touched when the orchestra stood up and the people stood up. I was surprised at how moved I was." --Newman on the response when he received the Oscar in People^, 04/15/02

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Roswitha Newman. Boutique owner. Married in 1967; divorced in 1989; German; mother of Newman's three oldest sons; after divorce married architect Don Boss.
wife:
Roswitha Newman. Had two; survived him.
wife:
Gretchen Newman. Receptionist. Second wife; born c. 1960; married in October 1990; mother of Newman's two younger children.
wife:
Gretchen Newman. Survived her.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
Irving Newman. Survived her.
father:
Irving Newman. Internist. Musician-turned-doctor; died of cancer in 1990.
mother:
Adele Newman. Died c. 1988.
mother:
Adele Newman. Has two others; survived him.
brother:
Alan Newman.
uncle:
Robert Newman. Divorced when Powell was young; mother raised her as a single parent.
uncle:
Robert Newman. Producer, executive. Born in 1903; died in 1982.
uncle:
Marc Newman. Has two sisters and a brother.
uncle:
Marc Newman. Agent. Born in 1908; died in 1980.
uncle:
Emil Newman. Composer, conductor. Born in 1910; died in 1984; earned one Oscar nomination.
uncle:
Emil Newman. Industrialist. Jewish.
uncle:
Lionel Newman. Composer, conductor. Born in 1916; died in 1989; had 11 Oscar nominations, sharing the 1969 Oscar for Best Score of a Musical Picture ("Hello, Dolly!"); was Mae West's accompaniest during the 1930s.
uncle:
Lionel Newman. Has four other siblings.
cousin:
David Newman. Has two.
cousin:
David Newman. Composer, conductor. Born in 1954; father, Alfred Newman; received 1997 Oscar nomination for the score of "Anastasia".
cousin:
Thomas Newman. Composer. Born in 1955; father, Alfred Newman; as of 1999, has received three Oscar nominations for his music scores.
cousin:
Thomas Newman. Had two; survived him.
cousin:
Maria Newman. Has two adopted daughters and an adopted son; also has served as foster mother to several others.
cousin:
Maria Newman. Composer, musician. Born c. 1962; father, Alfred Newman.
cousin:
Tim Newman. Had two others.
cousin:
Tim Newman. Music video director. Directed video of Newman's popular "I Love Los Angeles"; also directed videos for ZZ Top.
son:
Amos Newman. Record company executive. Born c. 1968; mother, Roswitha Newman.
son:
Amos Newman. Has three siblings.
son:
Erik Newman. Film executive. Born c. 1970; mother, Roswitha Newman.
son:
Erik Newman. Had nine siblings.
son:
John Newman. Briefly married to her first husband.
son:
John Newman. Born c. 1978; mother, Roswitha Newman.
son:
Patrick Newman. Born in 1992; mother, Gretchen Newman.
son:
Patrick Newman. Had three other.
daughter:
Alice Newman. Born c. 1993; mother, Gretchen Newman.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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