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Morton Stevens

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Morton Stevens
Birth nameMorton Aaron Suckno
Born(1929-01-30)January 30, 1929
Newark, New Jersey
United States
DiedNovember 11, 1991(1991-11-11) (aged 62)
Encino, California
United States

Morton Stevens (January 30, 1929 – November 11, 1991) was an American film score composer. In 1965, he became director of music for CBS West Coast operations. He is probably best known for composing the theme music for Hawaii Five-O, a television series for which he won two Emmy Awards (in 1970 and 1974), and was nominated seven other times for work on television programs including Gunsmoke and Police Woman.[1] He was taught by Oscar-winning composer Jerry Goldsmith, with whom he frequently collaborated on other projects.


Stevens graduated from the Juilliard School in 1950, and within a few years began working as an arranger/conductor for Sammy Davis Jr.[2] After Davis's longtime conductor, George Rhodes, died in 1985, Stevens was among those who filled that role again sporadically until Davis' death in 1990. In his later years, Stevens worked as conductor for other Vegas legends, including Jerry Lewis, and was musical director for the "Rat Pack" tour featuring Davis, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and—after Martin quit—Liza Minnelli. His classic theme for Hawaii Five-O was re-recorded for the 2010 remake of the television series.

His film work included scores for films and TV movies such as Wild and Wonderful (1964), The Spy with My Face (1965), Deadly Harvest (1972), The Strangers in 7A (1972), The Horror at 37,000 Feet (1973), The Disappearance of Flight 412 (1974), Code Name: Diamond Head (1977), Wheels (1978), The One Man Jury (1978), Women in White (1979), They Still Call Me Bruce (1987), Act of Piracy (1988) and the Jerry Lewis films Hardly Working (1980), Slapstick of Another Kind (1982) and Cracking Up (1983). In addition to "Hawaii Five-O", he also worked on the earlier smash 1960s CBS Television series dealing with an island, of a different kind: "Gilligan's Island", 1964-1967, as one of a handful of composers with his above-mentioned, frequent coworker, Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, Gerald Fried, Billy May, and other composers. Stevens also composed "So Old, So Young," used as the theme music (in two separate arrangements) for CBS' primetime (from 1966 to 1978) and late night (from 1972 to 1985) movie broadcasts.

Stevens died of pancreatic cancer in Encino, California at the age of 62.[2]


  1. ^ "Morton Stevens Television Composer, 62". The New York Times. 16 November 1991.
  2. ^ a b "Emmy-Winning Composer Morton Stevens Dies". Los Angeles Times. 12 November 1991.
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