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:
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
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.