Film music legend Jerry Goldsmith finally received a long overdue star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, albeit posthumously.
Goldsmith, whose career spanned almost 50 years and covered TV, film and concert works, sadly passed away due to cancer in 2004, never really getting the mainstream recognition he deserved and others like John Williams and Hans Zimmer achieved.
He was nominated on several occasions and received a few awards here and there, but I don’t think his star really shone the way it should be despite working on so many memorable movies and creating so many beautiful musical pieces. Often times, his scores would be a lot better than the movies they accompanied.
On May 9, Goldsmith got his well-deserved star from the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce in the category of Recording at 6752 Hollywood Boulevard. The ceremony attended by her widow Carol, his son Aaron, composer David Newman and songwriter Paul Williams.
Born on February 10, 1929 in Los Angeles, California, Jerry Goldsmith started playing piano at the age of six. When he was sixteen and inspired by Miklós Rózsa he decided to pursue a career in music. His first work was to write scores for radio shows at CBS before moving to television in shows such as The Twilight Zone and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
He first achieved recognition in the film industry with his score for Freud, following that with the experimental Planet of the Apes. With Chinatown he managed to not only write and record a complete score in only 10 days, but turn it into an instant classic. For The Omen he experimented with the use of a choir resulting in a chilling, nightmare-evoking score. He continued to experiment with that idea in different ways in the sequels that followed.
Always trying to push the envelope, he continued to experiment with instruments and the way they’re used with Alien creating an out-of-this-world sound. His score for the film though was heavily edited and he was asked to re-score parts of it, and even parts of Freud were used for a couple of scenes of the film to his dismay. Despite all those issues, something that Goldsmith would face many times throughout his career, Alien is considered one of his best works.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture followed, and he delivered a heavily thematic and majestic score that would rival John Williams’ work on the Star Wars movies. Goldsmith would return to the franchise four more times with Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection and Star Trek: Nemesis. He also wrote the theme for the TV show Star Trek: Voyager and his theme for The Motion Picture was used on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Then in the 80s came Poltergeist and its first sequel in which he mixed lullabies and horror sounds. With First Blood he displayed his unique style for bombastic action, while also introducing a touching melodramatic theme for the central character’s struggle. He returned to score the first two sequels, Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rambo III, each sequel with its own unique action style and new themes, though Rambo III replaced much of his original music with cues from the second film.
He showed his talent for comedy with Gremlins movie for director Joe Dante. He went specially and appropriately over the top with the delightful sequel Gremlins 2: The New Batch. He continued his collaboration with the director with Small Soldiers and later Looney Tunes Back in Action.
The 90s started with the highly energetic Total Recall for director Paul Verhoeven. He would collaborate with the filmmaker again in the erotic thriller Basic Instinct.
Again in race against time, he was tasked with providing a new score for Air Force One in only twelve days with the collaboration of Joel McNeely. He followed that with the acclaimed L.A. Confidential. More action and adventure came with 1999’s remake of The Mummy and The 13th Warrior.
His last score was for Richard Donner’s Timeline, which was sadly rejected and he was replaced by Brian Tyler. Varèse Sarabande released the score posthumously shortly after his passing.
Even if the mainstream public didn’t know Jerry Goldmith’s name, they sure listened to his music, and he remains a legend within the film music community over a decade after his passing. Every time I listen to his music I’m in awe at his unique ability to create such different and beautiful pieces in every film he scored, something not a lot of composers are able to do, specially today. As time goes on, his star will only shine brighter.