After a decades-long career in television — and nearly a century on this planet — composer Gerald Fried has died at age 95.
Fried died of pneumonia on Friday, February 17, at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Bridgeport, Connecticut, according to Variety.
After getting his start in the early 1950s, Fried scored some 40 films, episodes of 40 TV shows, and three dozen TV movies and miniseries. Fried earned an Emmy Award in 1977 for his music composition for the landmark TV miniseries Roots, 10 hours of which he scored after Quincy Jones provided music for the first two hours.
His other TV work includes music for Gilligan’s Island, Mission: Impossible, Lost in Space, Gunsmoke, and Dynasty.
Fried also scored five episodes of the original Star Trek TV series, and his music for the episode “Amok Time” has turned up everywhere from The Simpsons to The Cable Guy.
In a 2013 interview with StarTrek.com, Fried said he was “shocked, but not altogether surprised” that his music for the series took on a life of its own.
“There were two shows that I did in television that had reverberations far beyond what you’d expect from the venue and the possibilities. One was Star Trek and the other was Roots,” he said. “There was an atmosphere, doing both shows, that these were a little special and certainly more important than most shows. So I’m not totally surprised, but the enormity of Star Trek is a little bit startling and wonderful. I love it.”
The Bronx native also shared at the time how a chance encounter started his showbiz career.
“I was an oboe major at Juilliard, and I used to hang around Greenwich Village trying to pretend I was a smart intellectual, which I was not,” he said. “One of the nerds down there saved his money and made a little 18-minute short film and said, ‘Gerry, you go to Juilliard. You know how to compose and conduct a film score?’ I said, ‘Suuuuure! Nothing to it.’ But this guy, he actually paid for it. He got a studio and hired the best engineer in New York. So he was serious. And I had about two or three months to learn what the hell to do. … The punchline is that that nerd was Stanley Kubrick.”
Fried ended up scoring five of Kubrick’s projects, the documentary Day of the Fight and the films Fear and Desire, Killer’s Kiss, The Killing, and Paths of Glory.
He also became the first and only composer to earn a Best Original Score Academy Award nomination for a documentary with his work on 1974’s Birds Do It, Bees Do It.
After the AIDS-related death of his son Zack at age 5 in 1987, Fried became a fundraiser for the Pediatric AIDS Foundation.
Fried is survived by his wife, Anita; four children; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.