Prolific film and television composer Fred Karlin was born in Chicago in 1936. He began playing trumpet while in his teens and later studied jazz composition with William Russo, graduating cum laude from Amherst College in 1956 on the strength of his honors thesis, "String Quartet No. 2." In 1958 Karlin relocated to New York City, working as a composer and arranger for a series of jazz acts, most notably Benny Goodman, for whom he arranged the Benny Goodman Plays "The Sound of Music" LP; he also wrote for film documentaries and television commercial jingles, and from 1960 to 1964 taught the jazz program at the summer Arrangers Workshop at the Eastman School of Music. In 1962 Karlin signed on as musical director of the Meg Welles Quintet, which recorded three albums for Columbia; in 1963, he and Welles also wed. Karlin wrote his first feature film score for Alan J. Pakula's 1967 effort Up the Down Staircase -- he and his family relocated to Hollywood around the time he began work on the score for 1969's The Sterile Cuckoo, for which he earned his first Academy Award nomination with the song "Come Saturday Morning," later a pop hit for the Sandpipers.
Karlin won the Oscar for 1971's "For All We Know," from the film Lovers and Other Strangers -- a pop smash for the Carpenters, the song has since emerged as a modern standard. He earned his final Oscar nomination for "Come Follow Me," from 1972's The Little Ark. The next year generated perhaps his most popular film score, for the cult sci-fi classic Westworld. In 1974, he earned television's Emmy for Best Score for his work on The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. In all, Karlin scored over 30 features and in excess of 100 television movies and miniseries -- he also penned the occasional TV theme song, including the theme for 1977's The Man from Atlantis, and earned 11 Emmy nominations in addition to his four Oscar bids. With friend and mentor Rayburn Wright, Karlin co-wrote the 1990 book On the Track: A Guide to Contemporary Film Scoring, followed four years later by Listening to Movies: The Film Lover's Guide to Film Music. He and wife Meg also founded the nonprofit Historical Institute of American Music. Karlin died of cancer on March 26, 2004, at the age of 67.
~ Jason Ankeny