Nelson Riddle is dead at 64; Television Composer-Arranger for Stars
''The Frank Sinatra Show'', ''Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour'', ''Rowan & Martin's Laugh-in'', ''The Leslie Uggams Show'', ''The Tim Conway Show'', ''The Julie Andrews Hour'' and ''The Helen Reddy Show''.

Oct. 7, 1985


Nelson Riddle, the Oscar-winning composer and arranger who was famed for his work with such stars as Frank Sinatra and Linda Ronstadt died today. He was 64 years old.

Mr. Riddle, a resident of Los Angeles, died at 6:54 P.M. at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center of cardiac and kidney failure, Ron Wise, a hospital spokesman said.

In recent years the composer had made a comeback with Miss Ronstadt in her ''What's New?'' and ''Lush Life'' albums of richly orchestrated old standards, He won an Oscar in 1975 for music adaptation for the score of ''The Great Gatsby,'' based on the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, and a Grammy award in 1958 for ''Cross-Country Suite.''

His 1962 composition, ''Theme from Route 66'' made it to 30th on Billboard magazine's pop charts that year, and was one of the first television show themes to be recorded and commercially released.

Mr. Riddle had been taken to the hospital Monday and slipped into a coma at 7:30 today, his son Christopher said.

The composer's six children and second wife, Naomi, spent today with him, , the son said.

''We were with him all day long,'' he said.

Mr. Riddle, who was born June 1, 1921 in Oradell, N.J., had suffered liver problems for years, his son said. ''He had been getting weaker in the last six months,'' Christopher Riddle added.

Started as a Trombonist

Nelson Riddle began his career as a trombonist-arranger with the Charlie Spivak Band in 1941 and worked as an arranger with the bandleader Tommy Dorsey in 1947.

In 1983, the ''What's New?'' album became the third-best selling album in the nation, with more than 3.5 million copies sold.

The ''Lush Life'' album in 1984 sold more than 1.5 million copies, and a recently completed third album with Miss Ronstadt has yet to be named, Christopher Riddle said. It is to be released later this year.

The composer's first big hit came in 1956 with ''Lisbon Antigua,'' a crisp piano solo backed by one of Mr. Riddle's deeply chorded arrangements. It made it to No. 1 on the charts for three weeks and was followed a month later by his ''Port au Prince.''

He also composed the theme from ''The Proud Ones,'' which made it to No. 4 in 1956.

Known for Television Work

But it was for his work with Frank Sinatra that brought Mr. Riddle his greatest fame, both on records and on television, where he provided the music for ''The Frank Sinatra Show'' from 1950-52 on the CBS network and from 1957-58 on ABC.

Later, Mr. Riddle and his orchestra provided the music for the long-running hit ''Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour'' on CBS from 1967 to 1975, ''Rowan & Martin's Laugh-in'' on NBC from 1968-1973, ''The Leslie Uggams Show'' on CBS in 1969, ''The Tim Conway Show'' in 1970, ''The Julie Andrews Hour'' on ABC in 1972 and 1973 and ''The Helen Reddy Show'' on NBC in 1973.

Besides his wife, Naomi, and son Christopher, survivors included his eldest son, Nelson Riddle III, his daughters Rosemary Ann Acerra, Bettina Marie Bellini, Cecily Jean Finnegan and Maureen Alicia Riddle. The children's mother, Doreen Moran Riddle, died in 1980 of cancer.

Funeral arrangements were pending.