Composer Ken Thorne dies at 90
TV Movie and Oscar Winning Composer

July 12, 2014

By LA Times


Ken Thorne, 90, a television and film composer who won an Oscar for scoring the 1966 musical comedy "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," died of natural causes Wednesday at West Hills Hospital & Medical Center, said his wife, Linda.

Thorne arranged and directed incidental music for "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," the movie about a conniving slave in ancient Rome that starred Zero Mostel and Phil Silvers.

My orders were to only use Beatles music and use their themes and snippets of themes, and I did that.

It was one of several films he worked on with director Richard Lester. He began his Hollywood career writing the incidental score for the Lester-directed Beatles comedy "Help!" (1965), which brought Thorne a Grammy nomination.

"My orders were to only use Beatles music and use their themes and snippets of themes, and I did that," Thorne told the Daily Breeze in 2013.

Lester later hired him to handle the music for "Superman II" (1980) and "Superman III" (1983). For those films, Thorne rearranged the John Williams themes composed for the original "Superman" in 1978.

His other credits include "Inspector Clouseau" (1968), the Monkees' comedy "Head" (1968) and "The Magic Christian" (1969), which starred Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr.

Thorne was born in Norfolk, England, on Jan. 26, 1924. He began to study piano when he was 5 and played professionally starting at 15.

He moved permanently to the United States when he started work on the "Superman" films.

In later years, he worked mostly in television, where his credits include the TV movies "The Return of Sherlock Holmes," "Diana: Her True Story" and "Liz: The Elizabeth Taylor Story."


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