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 Fuller Up The Dead Musician Directory 
 
Frank DeVol
Frank DeVol
October 27, 1999
Age 88
 
 congestive heart failure 
 
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OBITUARY 
        
 
 
     
  Studio Composer Frank DeVol Dies Hollywood: Despite many Emmy and Oscar nominations, he was best known for 'Brady Bunch' theme  

                                            By ELAINE WOO, Times Staff Writer 
 

                                                 Frank DeVol did not invent the microwave oven. He did not 
                                            climb the world's tallest mountain. Nor did he write a computer 
                                            program that people cannot live without. He did more.  

                                                 DeVol wrote theme songs, winsome, bouncing, haunting ditties 
                                            for television and the movies that invaded Americans' psyches and 
                                            lodged there--like it or not--for years.  

                                                 Here's the story of a lovely lady  
                                                 Who was bringing up three very lovely girls . . .  

                                                 DeVol wrote the music for those lyrics that have burrowed into 
                                            pop culture history as the theme song for "The Brady Bunch," the 
                                            kitschy 1970s sitcom enjoying perpetual life in rerun heaven.  

                                            One of Hollywood's most popular musical 
                                            arranger-composer-conductors, DeVol died Wednesday at age 88 
                                            in a nursing home in Lafayette, Calif.  

                                                 His compositions include classic TV themes for "My Three 
                                            Sons" and "Family Affair," as well as songs for such movies as 
                                            "Pillow Talk," "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?", "Hush, Hush, 
                                            Sweet Charlotte," "The Dirty Dozen" and "Guess Who's Coming to 
                                            Dinner."  

                                                 He began to write music for TV and film after a successful 
                                            career in radio during the big band era, when he also arranged and 
                                            conducted recording sessions for such stars as Doris Day, Tony 
                                            Bennett, Jaye P. Morgan and Ella Fitzgerald.  
 
                                                 During his seven-decade career, he received five Academy 
                                            Award and five Emmy nominations. The latter included a 
                                            nomination for the "Brady Bunch" song, which never failed to elicit 
                                            the most rousing reaction whenever he mentioned or played his 
                                            compositions.  

                                                 "People gave him tremendous ovations when they found out 
                                            what he did," said Bob Weiss, DeVol's former publicist and 
                                            longtime family friend. "They'd say, 'Oh, you're 'The Brady Bunch,' 
                                            you're 'My Three Sons.' "  

                                                 DeVol was born in Moundsville, W.Va., but was raised in 
                                            Canton, Ohio, where his father was bandleader for the local 
                                            vaudeville theater. DeVol joined the musicians union when he was 
                                            14 and played violin and piano for his father's band. Saving his 
                                            earnings from $35-a-week appearances at a Chinese restaurant in 
                                            Cleveland, he bought a saxophone next, learning to play it by 
                                            watching other musicians.  

                                                 By the late 1930s, he was playing and arranging for the Horace 
                                            Heidt orchestra. When guitarist Alvino Rey left that band, DeVol 
                                            began to arrange for him.  

                                                 By the early 1940s, DeVol was living in California and working 
                                            the graveyard shift for Lockheed when he received a phone call 
                                            from KHJ, then a Mutual Network radio station, inviting him to be 
                                            the bandleader for a musical program. Before long, he was musical
                                            director for a host of radio personalities, including Ginny Simms, 
                                            Rudi Vallee, Jack Smith, Dinah Shore and Jack Carson. That led to 
                                            DeVol reading parts in comedies and becoming a radio personality
                                            himself.  

                                                 Decades later, he married another figure from the big band era, 
                                            vocalist Helen O'Connell. That marriage occurred in 1991, after the 
                                            death of DeVol's first wife, Grayce. O'Connell died in 1993.  

                                                 DeVol's break into movies and television came in 1954, when a 
                                            friend got him a job on a low-budget Robert Aldrich film called 
                                            "World for Ransom." The entire music budget was only $3,500, but 
                                            DeVol took it because "I never turn anything down," he said. That 
                                           movie earned him his first Oscar nomination and established him as 
                                           a Hollywood composer. He wrote music for 16 Aldrich movies 
                                           alone, including the 1967 box office hit "The Dirty Dozen."  

                                                 By the early 1960s, DeVol had movie composing down to a 
                                            science. "I make a chart," he told The Times in 1965. "If I'm scoring 
                                            a picture and I know I've got to write 85 minutes of music and I've 
                                            got 15 days to do it, that means I've got to produce five to six 
                                            minutes of music a day. This way I don't dawdle along."  

                                                 All together, DeVol wrote music for 47 movies and seven 
                                            television series.  

                                               He also acted, making appearances on the Jack Benny television 
                                            show, the original "Parent Trap" movie and "Fernwood 2-Night," 
                                            the 1977 sitcom about a talk show on which DeVol played a studio 
                                            orchestra leader who ran a dental office on the side.  

                                                 Overshadowing all those accomplishments over a seven-decade 
                                            career, however, was that 21-line song about a "lovely lady" and "a 
                                            man named Brady" whose notes DeVol wrote in a day.  

                                                 Although never a ratings hit, "The Brady Bunch" has provided 
                                            much grist for analysis in the pop culture mill. Its depiction of a 
                                            family happily solving mundane disputes over who does the dishes 
                                            or gets to use the phone was so far removed from Vietnam era 
                                            woes that it generated a camp following.  

                                                 Whenever DeVol, who was popular on the cruise circuit in his 
                                            later years, spoke of his work to audiences, he found it was always 
                                            the "Brady Bunch" tune that stirred them most.  

                                                 "When I mention 'Brady Bunch,' " he said a few years ago, 
                                            "that's when the audience really applauds."  

                                                 DeVol, a longtime resident of Toluca Lake before moving to 
                                            San Juan Capistrano and Laguna Hills, is survived by two 
                                            daughters, Linda Morehouse of Lafayette and Donna Copeland of 
                                            Denver, and two grandsons.  

                                                 A memorial service will be held Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Forest 
                                            Lawn Memorial-Park in Hollywood Hills. Donations may be sent to 
                                            the Musicians Relief Fund, 817 N. Vine St., Hollywood CA 
                                            90038. 

                               Steve Gorman  
                          10/31/99  

                          LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Film and TV composer Frank 
                          DeVol, whose classic themes for ``The Brady Bunch'' and ``My 
                          Three Sons'' became fixtures of America's pop culture, has 
                          died at age 88, his family said Friday.  

                          DeVol, who also wrote music to about 50 movies and earned 
                          four Academy Award nominations for film scores, died 
                          Wednesday at a nursing home in Lafayette, California, his 
                          daughter, Linda Morehouse, said. He had been in declining 
                          health, suffering from congestive heart failure and other 
                          illnesses, she said.  

                          DeVol began his career at age 14, playing violin in his father's 
                          orchestra in Ohio, and went on to become an arranger and 
                          musical director for radio shows during the 1930s and 40s 
                          before graduating to film scores in the 1950s. He also served 
                          as an arranger for several star singers and was the arranger 
                          and conductor for Nat ``King'' Cole's classic hit ``Nature Boy'' 
                          on Capitol Records. 

                          DeVol scored music for 16 films directed by Robert Aldrich 
                          alone, including the 1967 box office hit ``The Dirty Dozen.'' But 
                          it was in TV during the 1960s and 70s that DeVol left his most 
                          indelible mark, writing the winsome title songs to the family 
                          sitcoms ``My Three Sons,'' ``Family Affair'' and ``The Brady 
                          Bunch.'' 

                          ``The Brady Bunch'' theme, a catchy 21-line ditty about a 
                          ''lovely lady'' and ``a man named Brady,'' earned DeVol one of 
                          his five Emmy nominations and is his best-known work. It is a 
                          piece of music instantly recognizable to a generation of TV 
                          viewers who remember the show from its original 1969-1974 
                          run as well as fans the series has cultivated in its syndicated 
                          afterlife. 

                          Taking to the lecture circuit during his later years, DeVol 
                          always ``found there was a very loud appreciation for 'The 
                          Brady Bunch''' among his audiences, said longtime friend and 
                          former publicist Bob Weiss. 

                          He received Oscar nominations for the music he scored for 
                          ''Pillow Talk'' (1959), ``Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte'' (1964), 
                          ''Cat Ballou'' (1965) and ``Guess Who's Coming to Dinner'' 
                          (1967). His film music credits also include ``The Flight of the 
                          Phoenix'' (1965) and ``McLintock!'' (1963). 

                          Born in Moundsville, West Virginia, and raised in Canton, 
                          Ohio, DeVol got his showbiz start playing in his father's 
                          orchestra pit for silent films and vaudeville acts. 

                          After marrying dancer Grayce Agnes McGinty and moving to 
                          California in the 1930s, he became an arranger and musical 
                          director for a number of radio stars. During the 1940s and 50s, 
                          he arranged music and conducted orchestras backing such 
                          vocalists as Doris Day, Margaret Whiting, Rosemary Clooney, 
                          Tony Bennett, Vic Damone and Ella Fitzgerald. 

                          DeVol also landed several acting jobs, including guest 
                          appearances on the Jack Benny show and several sitcoms, 
                          including the role of Happy Kyne in the 1977 comedy 
                          ``Fernwood 2-Night'' and a role in the 1961 film ``The Parent 
                          Trap.''

 
 

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BIOGRAPHY
 
 
From Space Age Pop Music
 
 Born: 20 September 1911, Moundsville, West Virginia 
 Died: 27 October 1999, Lafayette, California 
After years of seeing "Music by DeVol" flash by on the opening credits of countless TV shows and movies, I had come to assume that "DeVol" was some faceless business, the musical equivalent of "Color by Deluxe."     To the contrary, Frank DeVol was a real person who proved more than willing on occasion to put his face in front of the camera--and did so, in fact, playing the bandleader Happy Kyne on Martin Mull's talk-show parody sitcom, "Fernwood 2 Nite" (later "America 2 Nite"). Unlike his character, who was often the brunt of host Barth Gimble's sarcasm, DeVol was a shrewd and able professional, a mainstay of the studio system. 

     DeVol was raised in Canton, Ohio, where his father was bandleader for the local vaudeville theater. DeVol
     joined his father's band when he was 14, and was a full-time professional musician before he was twenty.
     After a variety of gigs, he was hired by Horace Heidt to play and arrange, but when guitarist Alvino Rey left
     that band, DeVol went with him. By the early 1940s, DeVol was leading his own band on Mutural Network
     station KHJ in Los Angeles. He soon became musical director for the network, working with Rudi Vallee,
     Dinah Shore, Jack Carson, and others, and was appearing himself in some of the on-air skits. 

     DeVol worked in radio until the early 1950s, when director Robert Aldrich hired him to score a low-budget
     movie, "World for Ransom." Other studio jobs followed, and by the early 1960s, most of his time was spent
     writing and conducting music for series such as "My Three Sons" and "The Brady Bunch" and movies like
     "Pillow Talk," "Good Neighbor Sam," "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," and "Krakatoa: East of Java." He
     won five Oscar nominations for his scores and five Emmys for his television themes and scores. He was in
   steady demand as an arranger for vocalists such as Tony Bennett, Doris Day, Vic Damone, June Christy, and
     Peggy Lee. And in his spare moments, he did occasional acting bits, appearing in movies such as "The
     Parent Trap" before his "Fernwood/America 2 Nite" stint. 

     But DeVol was also a recording artist with Capitol, Columbia, and finally, ABC, and released over a dozen
     albums of fairly standard--although not so hackneyed as Mantovani's--string-laden easy listening music. The
     most noteworthy of these for space age pop fans is Bacchanale, a suite of compositions by Albert Harris
     centered on the theme of the gods of Greek mythology. 

     In the mid-1980s, after the death of his first wife, DeVol married the big band-era singer Helen O'Connell,
     and together the couple performed on cruise ships for several years until O'Connell's death in 1997. 

 
 
  
 
 

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