Jack Elliott (composer)

Irwin Elliott Zucker (August 6, 1927 – August 18, 2001) was an American television and film composer, conductor, music arranger, television producer, and co-founder of the New American Orchestra, later renamed the American Jazz Philharmonic.

Jack Elliott
Birth nameIrwin Elliott Zucker
Born(1927-08-06)August 6, 1927
Hartford, Connecticut
DiedAugust 18, 2001(2001-08-18) (aged 74)
Los Angeles, California
Occupation(s)Composer, conductor, music arranger, songwriter, television producer

Life and careerEdit

Elliott was born Irwin Elliott Zucker in Hartford, Connecticut. He was of Romanian Jewish descent.[1] Elliott graduated from the Hartt School of Music and worked as a jazz pianist in New York and Paris in the 1950s.[2][3] He continued his post-graduate studies in composition with Arnold Franchetti, Isadore Freed, Bohuslav Martinů, and Lukas Foss, but it was Judy Garland who brought Elliott to California to become an arranger for her television show.

Elliott continued his run in television as music director for Andy Williams' long-running series and later produced and conducted the NBC television special Live From Studio 8H: 100 Years of America's Popular Music. He also wrote themes for television shows Night Court, and co-wrote the themes to Barney Miller and Charlie's Angels with Allyn Ferguson. He is listed in New Grove's Dictionary of American Music and was awarded an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, the University of Hartford's Hartt School of Music.

Elliott was co-founder and music director of the American Jazz Philharmonic (formerly the New American Orchestra)[4] and creator of the Henry Mancini Institute.[5] The original name of the Orchestra was "The Big O" and was the largest jazz orchestra of its kind featuring over 92 musicians. Elliott blended the classical European style orchestra with modern American jazz style. His professional repertoire was diverse, highlighted by stints as music director for the Academy Awards, Emmy Awards, Kennedy Center Honors and the 1984 Summer Olympics. In addition, he holds the distinction of serving as music director of the Grammy Awards for 30 consecutive years.

He had an accomplished career in film, scoring numerous hit movies, including Sibling Rivalry, The Jerk, Oh God!, and Where's Poppa?. He also produced the Blade Runner soundtrack album with the New American Orchestra.


Elliott served as music director of the Henry Mancini Institute until his death from a brain tumor on August 18, 2001.[2]

Selected discographyEdit

  • Are You Lonesome Tonight?...Wonderful Melodies of the Sixties (Kapp, 1961)
  • The Orchestra (with Allyn Ferguson) (FNAM, 1979)

Selected filmographyEdit


Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Result Category Film or series
1965 Academy Award Nominated Best Music, Scoring of Music, Adaptation or Treatment The Unsinkable Molly Brown (Shared with Robert Armbruster, Leo Arnaud, Jack Hayes, Calvin Jackson, and Leo Shuken)
1987 BMI Film & TV Awards Won BMI TV Music Award Night Court
1981 Emmy Award Nominated Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction Omnibus (For December 28, 1980 episode
Shared with Alf Clausen and William Goldstein)
1989 Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Irwin Zucker Becomes Jack Elliott".
  2. ^ a b Thurber, Jon (2001-08-19). "Jack Elliott; Composer Led Mancini Institute". The L.A. Times. Retrieved 2009-02-09.
  3. ^ "Jack Elliott -- Composer, 74". The New York Times. 2001-08-24. Retrieved 2009-02-09.
  4. ^ Rusch, Bob (March 1976). Vol. 1, No. 3. Cadence. p. 93. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ Heckman, Don (2002-07-29). "Henry Mancini Institute Pays Tribute to Founder Jack Elliott". The L.A. Times. Retrieved 2009-02-09.

External linksEdit