Herman Stein


Herman Stein

LOS ANGELES--Herman Stein, a composer whose work in the 1950s and '60s was included in dozens of movies--but who, due to studio rules, was often uncredited--died of congestive heart failure at his home here March 15. He was 91. Though he is uncredited, MSTies can hear his music in the movies in episode 801- REVENGE OF THE CREATURE, episode 803- THE MOLE PEOPLE, episode 805- THE THING THAT COULDN'T DIE and THIS ISLAND EARTH, featured in MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: THE MOVIE.

As a staff composer at Universal Studios, Stein collaborated with Henry Mancini and others to create music for nearly 200 movies and shorts including "It Came From Outer Space," "Tarantula," "Creature from the Black Lagoon" and "The Incredible Shrinking Man," as well as a number of other films, from Westerns to comedies to dramas. In fact, Stein was already working in the Universal music department when Mancini arrived, and Stein was responsible for "showing him the ropes."

However, longtime studio policy was that a composer who wrote less than 80 percent of the score would not be credited, which meant Stein's name seldom appeared on movie screens.

He also composed music for such television shows as "Gunsmoke," "Lost in Space," and "Daniel Boone," "Wagon Train" and "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea." He also composed for cartoons, commercials and concert work. He also worked with jazz great Billy Eckstein.

Born in Philadelphia in 1915, Stein began playing piano at the age of 3 and gave his first public recital at 6. In his teens he was performing professionally in bars and restaurants. He taught himself orchestration and he was arranging professionally by the age of 15. He wrote and arranged for radio programs and jazz orchestras throughout the 1930s and 40s, including work for Fred Waring, Count Basie and Bob Crosby.

He served in the Army in World War II, after which he moved to Hollywood. In 1950 Stein was hired as an arranger by Universal-International, becoming a staff composer in 1951. One of his good friends was TV producer-writer Rod Serling and the two were among a group that was often seen at jazz nightclubs in Los Angeles. At the end of the 1960s he retired from the movie business but continued to compose music.

He has no survivors: His wife Anita, a violist for many years with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, died in 2001.