Born February 8, 1932 in Floral Park, New York, John Towner Williams is an American composer, conductor and pianist with a career spanning over six decades. He has composed some of the most popular and recognizable film scores in cinematic history, most recognably "Jaws," all seven of the "Star Wars" films, "Superman - The Motion Picture," the Indiana Jones series, "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial," "Jurassic Park" and three of the Harry Potter films. He has also been associated with director Steven Spielberg since 1974, composing music in many of Spielberg's feature films.
Williams was born on February 8, 1932 in Floral Park, New York. His parents were Jonathan Williams, a jazz percussionist with the Raymond Scott Quintet, and Esther Towner-Williams. His brothers, Donald and Jerry, are percussionists as well.
Moving to Los Angeles with his family in 1948, John attended North Hollywood High School, graduating in 1950 and attended UCLA, where he studied privately with the Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. In 1952, he was drafted into the U.S. Air Force, where he conducted and arranged music for The U.S. Air Force Band as part of his assignments. After his service ended in 1955, he moved to New York City and entered The Juilliard School, where he studied piano with Rosina Lhévinne while working as a jazz pianist in New York's many clubs and studios, most notably for composer Henry Mancini. He also served as music arranger and bandleader for a series of popular music albums with singer Frankie Laine.
After his studies at Juilliard and the Eastman School of Music, Williams returned to Los Angeles, where he began working as an orchestrator at film studios under other composers, such as Franz Waxman, Bernard Herrmann of "Psycho" fame and Alfred Newman. He performed on film scores by composers such as Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein, and Henry Mancini and helped record the film scores of the movies "Peter Gunn," "Days of Wine and Roses" and "Charade" in the 60s. Williams's first film composition was for the 1958 B-movie "Daddy-O," known for it's appeareance on "Mystery Science Theater 3000," His first screen credit came two years later in "Because They're Young." He soon gained notice in Hollywood for his versatility in composing jazz, piano, and symphonic music. Often credited as "Johnny Williams," he also composed the music for various TV programs in the 1960s, such as "Bachelor Father," "The Kraft Suspense Theatre," "Lost in Space," "The Time Tunnel," "Land of the Giants" and the original calypso theme and incidental music on "Gilligan's Island."
Williams received his first Academy Award nomination for his film score in "Valley of the Dolls" in 1967. He was nominated again for his score for "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" in 1969. Williams broke through to win his first Academy Award for his film score in "Fiddler on the Roof." In 1972, he earned another nomination in the category Best Music Original Dramatic Score at the 1973 Academy Awards for the Robert Altman–directed psychological thriller "Images."
During the early 1970s, Williams' prominence grew through his work on producer Irwin Allen's disaster films, such as "The Poseidon Adventure" and "The Towering Inferno." Williams and Speilberg came together on the movie, "The Sugarland Express," followed up by "Jaws," which earned Williams his second Academy Award, and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." Spielberg also recommended Williams to George Lucas, to score the ambitious and now music for "Star Wars" and its sequels and prequels, earning him more Academy Award nominations.
Williams also produced the music for the movies, "Empire of the Sun," "Jurassic Park," "Schindler's List," "Memoirs of a Geisha," "Saving Private Ryan," "The Adventures of TinTin" and Steven Speilberg's "Lincoln." Segments of William's score for "Superman" were reused in "Superman Returns" in 2006 and in the TV series, "Smallville."
From 1980 to 1993, Williams succeeded Arthur Fiedler as the conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra, afterward becoming the Pops' Laureate Conductor. He has written many concert pieces and makes annual appearances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has won five Academy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, seven British Academy Film Awards, and twenty-two Grammy Awards. With 49 Academy Award nominations, Williams is the second most-nominated individual, after Walt Disney. In 2005, the American Film Institute selected Williams's score to 1977's Star Wars as the greatest American film score of all time. He was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame in 2000 and was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2004. He will receive the 2016 AFI Life Achievement Award.
John Williams is married to actress Barbara Ruick. They have three children named Jennifer, Joseph, who is the lead singer of Toto, and Mark Towner Williams. They were married until Barbera's death in 1974. In 1980, Williams married photographer Samantha Winslow.
Episode(s)[edit | edit source]
- Marooned (opening theme)