Frank DeVol, 88, a Composer for Movies and TV Sitcoms


By Wolfgang Saxon

Frank DeVol, the composer of more than 50 film scores along with such familiar television tunes as "The Brady Bunch" song, died on Wednesday at a nursing home in Lafayette, Calif. He was 88.   Churning out catchy scores and ditties, from "Pillow Talk" to "The Brady Bunch."

Mr. DeVol was one of Hollywood's most prodigious composer-arranger-conductors, winning recognition with nominations for five Academy Awards and five Emmys, among them a nomination for the "Brady Bunch" theme, written for that sitcom of the 1970's. The nominated movie scores were for "Hush ... Hush, Sweet Charlotte," "Pillow Talk" and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner."

He also composed the music for the television series "My Three Sons" and "Family Affair."

Mr. DeVol occasionally appeared on screen as a character actor. In the late 1970's he played "Happy Kyne," the band leader in the offbeat Norman Lear lampoon of a small-town talk-variety show, "Fernwood 2-night".

Born in Moundsville, W.Va., he grew up in Canton, Ohio, and joined the musicians' union at age 14. He was playing violin and piano with his father's band in a vaudeville theater where silent movies were shown.

He also played at a Chinese restaurant in Cleveland and saved his money to buy a saxophone, which he taught himself to play. By the late 1930's he played and arranged for the Horace Heidt Orchestra.

Moving to California, he took a night job at Lockheed, but a Mutual Network radio station asked him to lead the band for one of its music programs.

Through radio he advanced to engagements as musical director for such luminaries as Rudi Vallee, Dinah Shaw and Jack Carson.

It was the era of the big bands, and Mr. DeVol next found himself at Capitol Records doing arrangements for Doris Day, Kay Starr, Tony Bennett, Vic Damone and the like.

He broke into pictures and television in 1954 when he worked on a low-budget Robert Aldrich film, "World for Ransom." It gained him his first Oscar nomination and a reputation as a Hollywood composer. He went on to write the music for several more Aldrich films, including "The Dirty Dozen," a hit at the box office in 1967.

Twice widowed, Mr. DeVol is survived by two daughters, Linda Morehouse of Lafayette and Donna Copeland of Denver; and two grandsons. 

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