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Victor Mizzy and His Orchestra and Chorus

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If you're not a soundtrack aficionado, you may not know who Vic Mizzy is, but you almost certainly know his two most-famous compositions: the theme songs to the TV sitcoms The Addams Family and Green Acres. While none of Mizzy's other work ever achieved quite the same notoriety, his melodic sensibility and good-humored playfulness earned him steady work in the TV and film world during the '60s, most notably scoring a raft of film comedies starring Don Knotts. Victor Mizzy was born January 9, 1922, in Brooklyn, NY, where he grew up. Mizzy began his musical education early on, starting piano lessons at age four; despite his exclusively classical training, Mizzy was more attracted to popular songs, and tried his hand at composing them as a teenager. Eventually, Mizzy met lyricist (and future comedy writer) Irving Taylor, and the pair began collaborating on songs. Their big break came with a successful audition for the radio contest show Major Bowes' Amateur Hour, and their victory on the program led to a week-long engagement at the Roxy Theater, plus a bevy of interest in their compositions. The duo landed a major number one hit with "My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time," but their promising career was interrupted by World War II. Fortunately for Mizzy, he ended up with an assignment as an organist at a training center for Navy chaplains, which allowed him to continue to writing songs. After the war, Mizzy married singer Mary Small and returned to the New York songwriting market, but it proved to be far less lucrative than before the war. However, through a stroke of good fortune, Mizzy landed a gig working on the Hollywood musical Easy to Love with Johnny Green. That project led to several other Hollywood assignments, but for the time being, Mizzy found the majority of his work in New York radio and television. He and Small divorced after a downturn in her career, and since Mizzy's own career was on thin ice, he eventually moved to Los Angeles to pursue more television work. Mizzy's studio contacts finally paid off when NBC executive David Levy tapped him to place stock music in the pilot of what became The Addams Family. Instead, Mizzy wrote a complete original score for the series, and told Levy he'd do so free of charge, as long as he kept the publishing rights to his music -- which turned into a major financial windfall for Mizzy, as his opening title theme became one of the most popular in television history. The Addams Family led to further work for NBC on several other series, including Mizzy's second signature theme song, that of Green Acres; additionally, Mizzy's use of a theremin on his theme for The 13th Gate led Gene Roddenberry to approach him about scoring a new science fiction series called Star Trek -- an assignment Mizzy turned down because he was too busy. In addition to his TV work, Mizzy also scored a number of wacky Hollywood comedies, including vehicles for Phyllis Diller (Did You Hear the One About the Traveling Saleslady?) and Jerry Lewis (The Busybody); however, his primary association was with Don Knotts, most prominently on The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, but also on films like The Reluctant Astronaut, The Shakiest Gun in the West, The Love God?, and How to Frame a Figg. Mizzy scored several TV movies over the course of the '70s, and in a bit of irony was chosen to score the 1981 TV movie reunion of the Munsters (The Munsters' Revenge). He retired to Bel Air shortly thereafter, financially secure thanks to his Addams Family deal. Thus far, Mizzy's work is only sporadically available on CD, due in large part to the light-hearted disposability of many of the comedies he was involved in. RCA released a compilation of Mizzy's music for The Addams Family in 1991; additionally, Mizzy's 1967 score for the beach flick Don't Make Waves appeared on a 2000 two-fer (along with John Williams' -- yes, that John Williams) -- score for Penelope. In November 2000, the Percepto label released an excellent two-disc compilation of Mizzy's most memorable film and TV music, including nearly all of his main-title themes, plus extensive liner notes; titled Suites and Themes, its release was unfortunately limited to just 1,000 copies. ~ Steve Huey