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October 11, 2008

Composer Neil Hefti Passes

Wrote Batman, Odd Couple Themes

Neil Hefti, a Big Band trumpeter, arranger and composer of themes for the movie The Odd Couple and the Batman television series, died Saturday, October 11. 2008, at his home in Toluca Lake, California. He was 85.

Hefti’s notable achievements include the iconic theme of the 1960s superhero series Batman, which became a Top 40 hit and won a Grammy Award in 1966 for best instrumental theme. He also composed music for The Odd Couple, Barefoot in the Park and Harlow, which featured his song “Girl Talk.”

Neal Paul Hefti was born in Hastings, Nebraska, on Oct. 29, 1922. He received a trumpet as a Christmas present when he was 10 years old. By the time he completed high school, he was arranging and playing for local bands in order to contribute to the household. He saw Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie play when they passed through nearby Omaha before he ever saw them in New York.

As an adult, he worked with, and arranged music for, the greats of the Big Band era, including Count Basie, Woody Herman, Charlie Spivak, Buddy Rich and Harry James. He also worked with Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, Mel Tormé and Tony Bennett. In addition, he led his own bands, and was active as a player until 1960.

Hefti’s wife died in 1978, and a daughter died in 1997. He is survived by a son, brother, sister and three grandchildren.

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