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Tony Thomas 1927-1997

My friends, I bring very sad news. Tony Thomas, a name film music fans everywhere will recognize from countless books, albums, TV documentaries and other productions, has passed away. He was only 69 years old.

There are a lot of people who brand themselves as "film music historians." Tony actually was one. He had an amazing knowledge of films and film music from Hollywood's Golden Age and was one of the key people who, in the early 1970s, started to bring recognition to the art form. His name is on countless LPs and CDs, from the '70s to the present day—just look at the fine print of your collection. He was very close to such film composers as Hans Salter and Miklos Rozsa, and now he too is gone.

Tony was a genuinely helpful and warm person who is sorely missed by his friends and associates. A memorial service is being scheduled for this coming Saturday. I did not know him very well—we saw each other at events, and on many occasions he contributed articles to Film Score Monthly—but many people with whom I am close did. They are, understandably, deeply going to miss Tony not just as the fixture of film music he was, but as a friend. Tony was a class act, he had an amazing body of knowledge and unmistakable broadcaster's voice, and furthermore he was nice.

This is a very sudden and sad turn of events indeed, and the August issue of Film Score Monthly will have proper remembrances of Tony and his legacy. Following below is the official obituary which is being circulated to the mainstream press, such as Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and more. -Lukas Kendall


Tony Thomas

Obituary by Jon Burlingame

Author, producer and broadcaster Tony Thomas died at 3 PM Tuesday, July 8, at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, Burbank, of complications from pneumonia. He was 69.

One of Hollywood's preeminent film historians, Thomas was the author of 30 books, produced more than 50 albums of music, and produced many documentaries for television. His distinguished voice was among the best-known in the industry, heard annually as the announcer on the televised "The Kennedy Center Honors" and "American Film Institute Salutes."

Thomas was born July 31, 1927 near Portsmouth, England, the son of a bandmaster in the Royal Marines, and moved to Canada at the age of 18.

He became an announcer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1948. Eventually he became a writer- producers for CBC radio, specializing in programs about his first love: Hollywood and the movie business. He later served as writer and host of the CBC television series "As Time Goes By" and as a panelist on the series "Flashback."

Thomas moved to Los Angeles in 1966. His many books included Music for the Movies, The Films of 20th Century-Fox, The Hollywood Musical, The Busby Berkeley Book, biographies of Errol Flynn and Joel McCrea, and a number of entries in Citadel's "Films of" series, including chronicles of the film careers of Marlon Brando, Gene Kelly, Henry Fonda and James Stewart.

An expert on movie music, Thomas produced dozens of albums of classic film scores by all of the great composers of Hollywood history, including Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Alfred Newman and Miklos Rozsa, as well as records of many of their compositions for the concert hall.

Thomas was one of the founders of the Society for the Preservation of Film Music and served for many years on its advisory board. His widely acclaimed Music for the Movies, published in 1973, was the first serious appraisal of the history of film music. A revised and updated edition is scheduled for paperback release this fall.

He was a writer for the Academy Awards shows in 1979 and 1984 and has served as a segment producer for the Oscar show since the late '70s. As an independent writer-producer, his films included Hollywood and the American Image, Back to the Stage Door Canteen and The West That Never Was, all for PBS; Film Score: The Music of the Movies and Wild Westerns for the Discovery Channel; and, most recently, The Hollywood Soundtrack Story and Michael Feinstein: Sing a Song of Hollywood for American Movie Classics.

Thomas was a writer for the ABC special "The Fifty Years of Warner Bros.", a writer on the Steve Allen series "Meeting of Minds," and a writer-producer for three years on the syndicated series "That's Hollywood."

Surviving are a son, David of Burbank, and daughter, Andrea, of Oakland; brother Graham, in Moorpark; brother Ross and sister Christine, both in England; and his companion Lorna Grenadier.

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