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BIOGRAPHY

Mini Biographies collected from the Web, some credited, some not
 

Frank DeVol was born to Herman Frank DeVol and Minnie Emma Humphreys DeVol in Moundsville, West Virginia on September 20, 1911. He grew up in Canton, Ohio. His father had a "pit" orchestra at the local movie house and his mother had a sewing shop in Canton. His father was also an accountant. He graduated from McKinley High School in 1929. He attended Miami of Ohio University for six weeks. His parents wanted him to be a lawyer but he wanted a musical career. He was a member of the musicians' union from the age of 14 and worked for his father in the theatre orchestra. His instruments were violin, saxophone at first. After his stint in college he joined Emerson Gill's orchestra in Ohio and traveled the state. Later he joined Horace Heidt's band and not only was a musician but he became an arranger for the band. Later he traveled with Alvino Rey's band. 

This affiliation led to long time friendships with the King Family. Finally, in 1943 he settled in California and started his own band appearing on KHJ radio and accompaniment to many radio shows, such as Jack Carson and Jack Smith. With the beginning of television he moved to working on The Betty White Show and The Dinah Shore Show among others. In the 1950's he broke into movie composing and composed the score for 50 films. In addition, he composed the music for a number of television shows, such as Family Affair, The Smith Family, My Three Sons, and The Brady Bunch. He was also a character actor and acted in both films and TV. After his first wife, Grayce, died, he married Helen O'Connell. Helen died two years later. Frank left two daughters and four grandchildren when he died October 27, 1999 in Lafayette, California.

 

 

Frank DeVol was never quite a "household name," but for a few years in the 1960's, his name came into millions of American households every week, sometimes more than once each week. As a bandleader and arranger, he was one of the busiest working musicians of the 1950's and 1960's, and as a composer, he wrote more than 50 movie scores--but it was his theme music for series such as My Three Sons and The Brady Bunch by which he came into our homes and pop-culture consciousness for decades. Frank DeVol was born in Moundsville, West Virginia and raised in Canton, Ohio, the son of a band leader. In 1925, at age 14, he was already a paid-up member of the musicians' union, playing violin and piano in a band led by his father at a local theater.

He taught himself the saxophone after saving enough to buy one, and he played professionally. By the end of the 1930's, DeVol was playing in and arranging material for the Horace Heidt Orchestra. He moved into radio work when the Mutual Network hired him as a band leader on one of its shows in California, and he went on to become a band leader and arranger for such renowned figures as Rudy Vallee and Dinah Shore during the 1940's. DeVol also worked as a band leader and arranger on recordings by figures such as Vic Damone, Doris Day, and Tony Bennett. 

In 1954, DeVol made the jump to composer when he was engaged to write the music for a Robert Aldrich movie called World for Ransom. Despite the fact that the movie was produced on a low budget and wasn't very visible to the trade, the score was good enough to get DeVol the first of five Oscar nominations that he would receive throughout his career. Aldrich used him on several subsequent big-budget movies, including The Dirty Dozen (which yielded a hit single), Kiss Me Deadly, Attack, Hush . . . Hush Sweet Charlotte (another Oscar nominee for music), Flight of the Phoenix, Ulzana's Raid, The Longest Yard, and All The Marbles. His other movie scores included Guess Who's Coming To Dinner (another music Oscar nominee), the '50s romantic comedy Pillow Talk (also nominated for an Oscar for music), the western comedy McLintock!, and the western adventure Duel At Diablo

It was in television, however, that DeVol made his biggest impact. His theme from the sitcom My Three Sons remains one of the most familiar of early 1960's television title music, and his title theme for The Brady Bunch earned one of five Emmy nominations that DeVol received. He also wrote the title music for Family Affair, among many other series. DeVol made occasional on-screen appearances as an actor. During the early 1960's, he played Mr. Bannister, the nervous employer of John Astin and Marty Ingles, in the sitcom I'm Dickens, He's Fenster

And in the 1970's, he endeared himself to a new generation of fans of satiric comedy with his portrayal of Happy Kyne, the leader of the studio band (the Mirthmakers) on the fictional talk-show Fernwood 2-night (later America 2-night). The notion of Frank DeVol, whose screen manner could make coffee nervous, playing anyone name "Happy" was funny enough, but DeVol played the role at a deeper and more sophisticated level. When Happy Kyne & the Mirthmakers did a patriotic medley for the Fernwood 2-night July 4th program, the music would shift just as something resembling a familiar march tune manifested itself, or a beat that might get the listener's foot tapping turned up. DeVol also recorded many albums of pop standards and salutes to American songwriters in his capacity as a band leader in the 1950's. 

Bruce Eder

 

 

Frank Denny De Vol (September 20, 1911 - October 27, 1999)
Frank De Vol was born in Moundsville, West Virginia. He attended college at Miami University. He is known as a composer/arranger for radio and TV series (including "
The Brady Bunch"). But his show business career has been much longer and more versatile than most people know.

It began in 1925 with Frank playing violin in silent movie and vaudeville orchestra in Canton, Ohio. He later performed with the Emerson Gill orchestra in Cleveland. Thereafter, he toured the US with the Alvino Ray orchestra.

In the 1940s he began a recording career, first as an arranger for vocalists Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Doris Day, Vic Damone and Nat "King" Cole. His arrangement of "Nature Boy" sung by Nat "King" Cole became a number one hit in 1948. That earned him an executive position at Columbia Records. He recorded quite a few 1950's "mood music albums" with his orchestra for Columbia records, under the moniker "Music By De Vol".

One such notable Columbia concept album is the "Bacchanale" suite composed by Albert Harris, which was recorded by Frank De Vol and his orchestra in 1960. Each track is a melody named for a god or goddess of Greek Mythology.

In the 1950s his own Hollywood orchestra, called "Music of the Century", played frequently at the Hollywood Palladium, and featured vocalists Jaye P. Morgan and Helen O'Connell.

His theme music for "My Three Sons" featured a piano playing a triplet obligato over the melody in 4/4 meter. It became a popular instrumental single in 1961. His also wrote many other TV episode scores, and the familiar Screen Gems Logo Signature, which was heard frequently at the end of many TV shows.

His many motion picture scores included the following which were all nominated for Oscars: the Doris Day/Rock Hudson comedy "Pillow Talk" (1959), "Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte" (1964), "Cat Ballou" (1965), and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" (1967.) He also made guest appearances as a TV character actor in "I Dream of Jeannie", "Bonanza", "Peticoat Junction" and as the bandleader in Martin Mull's "Fernwood Tonight" TV talk show spoof.

He died of natural causes at his home in Lafayette, California (East of Berkeley, CA) in 1999. He was 88.

Recommended arrangements and compositions recorded by Frank De Vol:
Pegasus from "
The Bacchanale Suite", by Albert Harris (1960) 
Mercury from "T
he Bacchanale Suite", by Albert Harris (1960) 
Theme from "
My Three Sons" TV show, by Frank De Vol (1961)

 


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