Richard Markowitz

Active - 1958 - 1986  |   Born - Jan 1, 1926   |   Died - Dec 6, 1994   |   Genres - Drama, Crime, Western

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California-born composer Richard Markowitz came to film scoring at a most inopportune time, when motion picture production in Hollywood was starting to implode during the mid-1950s. Thus, his earliest credits were for low-budget, independent productions, including the cult movie Stakeout on Dope Street (1958), The Hot Angel (1958), and Operation Dames (1959). He moved into television work soon after and scored a major success with his theme for The Rebel, a western drama series starring Nick Adams as ex-Confederate soldier Johnny Yuma looking for a place for himself in the post-Civil War west. Not only was the 1960 series a success, but Markowitz's theme song became a hit for Johnny Cash ("Johnny Yuma was a rebel/he wandered alone...."). With that credit behind him, he got better television assignments from that point on, as well as occasional film work, such as the score for The Magic Sword (1962). He got to do a lot of westerns, understandably, given the nature of his most famous composition, including Hondo. But he also composed for science fiction (The Invaders) and straight drama (Bus Riley's Back in Town), crime (The FBI), and suspense vehicles (Mission: Impossible). Markowitz's biggest television success came in 1966 when the producers of The Wild Wild West rejected the theme music written by Dimitri Tiomkin and, instead, chose his music for the series, which ended up running for four seasons. Additionally, he wrote the music for more than two-dozen episodes of the series. Markowitz wrote music for a few feature films, but spent most of the rest of his career working in television on such series as Mannix, Joe Forrester, Quincy, Police Story, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Columbo, and Murder, She Wrote, and television films such as The Stranger (1973) and The Hanged Man (1974).

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